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Journal Article

Archaeometric studies on the petroglyphs and rock varnish at Kilwa and Sakaka, northern Saudi Arabia


Guagnin,  Maria
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Andreae, M. O., Al-Amri, A., Andreae, C. M., Guagnin, M., Jochum, K. P., Stoll, B., et al. (2020). Archaeometric studies on the petroglyphs and rock varnish at Kilwa and Sakaka, northern Saudi Arabia. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 31(2): 12167, pp. 219-244. doi:10.1111/aae.12167.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-5371-C
Abstract We conducted rock varnish measurements at four rock art sites in north-western Saudi Arabia, including Kilwa and the Camel Site near Sakaka. We determined the areal densities of Mn and Fe in rock varnish that had accumulated on petroglyph surfaces since their creation, complemented by a detailed analysis of varnish samples. We inferred varnish accumulation rates by relating the Mn areal density on inscriptions to their ages estimated based on the type of script used. Applying these rates to the varnish densities on the rock art indicated that the art was produced during two distinct periods, corresponding to the Pre-Pottery/Late Neolithic and the Bronze/Iron Age, respectively, with different artistic traditions, reflecting distinct socioeconomic and ecological conditions. Our dating approach, while admittedly burdened with substantial uncertainties, yields ages consistent with archaeological and historical evidence and it provides a unique quantitative tool to obtain at least rough ages for otherwise undatable rock art.