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Deadly Findings: New Studies Reveal Deadly Truth About AlUla’s ‘Desert Kite’ Animal Traps

JEDDAH: New research has shed new light on the origins and evolution of a series of ancient stone animal traps, known as desert kites, in AlUla.

Sponsored by the Royal Commission for AlUla, the studies reveal fascinating evidence of the innovative and collaborative methods local people used thousands of years ago to hunt wild animals.

According to a report published by the Journal of Archaeological Science, the stone traps got their name from pilots who flew over the area in the 1920s and saw a resemblance in their shape to a child’s kite with streamers.

According to Dr. Remy Crassard, an expert on desert kites, the traps are among the largest structures of their time, with the oldest examples, in southern Jordan, dating back to 7000 BC.

He said that while the exact age of the kites recently discovered in northwest Arabia was still being calculated, they appeared to overlap the transition from the Late Neolithic to the Bronze Age (5000-2000 BCE). JC).

Crassard — who is affiliated with the National Center for Scientific Research and co-director of the long-running Khaybar Archaeological Project, which is sponsored by the RCU and its strategic partner Afalula (the French agency for the development of AlUla) — believes he There are about 6,500 kites in the area, up from 700-800 known sites 20 years ago, and the number is still growing.

During their research in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Armenia, and Kazakhstan, Crassard and his team determined that kites were specifically used for hunting wild animals, rather than herding.

The development of mass traps had a dramatic impact on the landscape, he said, as they would have forced migratory animals, such as gazelles, to change course and could even have been responsible for the extinction of some species. .

In Saudi Arabia, research by a team from the University of Western Australia and sponsored by the RCU found 207 kites in AlUla and the nearby region of the extinct Harrat Uwayrid volcano.

Most kites in the region are formed from low stone walls designed to channel prey towards a trap, such as a pit or a precipice. Although they come in different shapes, those found by the Australian team, led by Rebecca Repper, were mostly V-shaped.

AlUla kite lines are around 200 meters long, but similar constructions elsewhere stretch for miles. The researchers say their location suggests the hunters had a thorough understanding of the animals’ movements.

Dr Rebecca Foote, director of archeology and cultural heritage research at the RCU, said the studies added to the growing understanding of the rich cultural heritage of the people of northwest Arabia.

“Recent studies extend our earlier findings from the Neolithic period in the region, including the construction of large-scale ritual structures,” she said.

“Under the sponsorship of RCU, and as we enter the fall season, we look forward to many more insightful discoveries in cooperation with international teams from Saudi Arabia, France, Australia, Germany and other countries.”

The collaborations are part of the RCU’s plan to create a global hub for archaeological research and conservation at AlUla. At its heart is the Institute of Kingdoms, located among the ruins of the ancient North Arabian kingdom of Dadan and dedicated to the study of the history and prehistory of the Arabian Peninsula.

Dr Ingrid Périssé Valéro, Director of Archeology and Heritage at Afalula, said the recently discovered kites at AlUla and Khaybar have opened up important insights into their origins and development, marking a milestone in the story of human evolution and mankind’s relationship with the natural environment. .

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