PARIS (Rahnuma): Few spots in today’s world have remained mysterious to today’s archaeologists and scientists, armed with the latest, hi-tech tools that enable them to visualise and recreate the world as it may have been thousands, or even millions, of years earlier.
Yet, AlUla, located on an important route with links to Damascus, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, continues to remain hidden in a veil of mystery even as teams experts try to pry open the diverse region to understand its origins and history.
Lying on the route that connected Aden in the south to Damascus in the north, and from there onwards to Europe, AlUla is believed to have been on the crossroads of several civilizations and multiple cultures. It was an important resting place on the trade route, with its abundant water supply feeding several oases and lush green farms.
Since the emergence of Islam, it has also been an important site on the route connecting most of northern Middle East and Africa with Makkah and Madinah.
A dedicated team of French and Saudi archaeologists, historians and researchers, assisted by a host of experts from around the world, has been trying to rebuild the story of AlUla since prehistoric times right up to today. Dr Laila Nehmé, a French historian and archeologist, has been involved in uncovering the mysteries of AlUla for nearly 30 years. She and her colleagues have been able to fill in many holes in the site’s timeline and reconstruct, using a clutch of modern tools and computer software, a fairly comprehensive story of a site that appears to have been continuously inhabited by humans for more than 200,000 years.