Last Updated: Mon Nov 08, 2010 20:14 pm (KSA) 17:14 pm (GMT)

Saudis unearth first-ever Pharaoh-culture antiquity

The inscription was found on a rock and carries the royal signature of Ramses III
The inscription was found on a rock and carries the royal signature of Ramses III

Saudi officials on Sunday announced the discovery of the country's first-ever artifact from Pharaonic culture -- a 3,100-year-old inscription carrying the signature of King Ramses III.

The inscription was found near the northwestern Saudi oasis town of Tayma, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of Tabuk, a key stop on ancient trade routes, said Ali al-Ghabban, a senior museums and antiquities official.

The inscription was found on a rock and carries the royal signature of Ramses III with a double cartouche, Ghabban said in a statement.

Ramses reigned between 1192 and 1160 BC, according to Ghabban, though the dates vary slightly according to different archaeological sources.

The inscription was unearthed four months ago near Tayma, an area which has given up many pre-Islam archaeological discoveries from regional cultures.

An ancient trade route linked the Nile Valley to the oasis, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities said in statement on its website.

Egyptian trading caravans carried luxury goods, like incense, gold, silver and copper, from Taima, which is one of the kingdom's largest archeological sites, it said.

The tourism commission is promoting its Red Sea coastline and historical sites, including Madain Saleh and Souq Okaz, as destinations for visitors, according to information on its website. Saudi tourism revenue will reach 66 billion riyals ($17.6 billion) in 2010 and rise to 118 billion riyals in 2015, the Saudi Press Agency reported in June.

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