Asharq Alawsat runs an interview with Michael Petraglia about the archeological potential of Saudi Arabia. I had the pleasure of hosting Professor Petragli during his 2001 visit to the Kingdom as part of the Fulbright Exchange Program. His study includes not only human habitation patterns in the Middle Paleolithic period, but also how climate change affected them. Using satellite imagery, it’s been determined that vast rivers and lakes were found in Arabia in the prehistoric past. How humans reacted to the frequent wet and dry periods, which are currently in a dry span, may have bearing on how we adapt to the changes we are now experiencing.

Archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia are world-clas
Mohammed Al-Shafey

London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Professor Michael Petraglia is Co-Director of the Centre for Asian Art, Archaeology and Culture and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. He specializes in Palaeolithic archaeology and the evolution of human behavior and cognition. His primary geographic areas of interest are the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent and Eastern North America.

Professior Petraglia is currently leading the 5-year long “Paleodeserts Project” (2012-2016) in collaboration with multiple universities and institutions in Saudi Arabia, the UK and Europe, as well as with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities. The project will study the effects of environmental change in the Arabian Peninsula over the last two million years. In particular, it will focus on how long-term climate change affected early humans and animals who settled or passed through the region, and what responses determined whether they were able to survive.

Asharq Al-Awsat spoke with Professor Petraglia to discuss his current research project. He revealed why the Arabian Peninsula is such an archaeological source of interest, and why there have been so few studies before in this area. Professor Petraglia also outlined his initial findings, as well as the significance of this research with regards to the issue of climate change in general.

The following is the text of the interview:

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