06 January 2022

Camal Rock

Around a dozen humped sculptures, some of them damaged from erosion and vandalism, can be found and are chiselled on three rocky spurs. The sculptures that depict equids, or hoofed mammals, show a level of artistic skill unseen in other rock art forms in the Saudi desert. The three dimensional carvings show great skill in their level of naturalism and their sheer size with some featuring only part of a camel's body such as the hooves, differ from those discovered at other Saudi sites with other showing donkeys. Many are perched high on the outcrops and would have required ropes or scaffolding. There is little information on who created the carvings, what date they are from or the tools they used, although the closest may be the Nabateans, a nomadic Arab tribe known for founding the city of Petra in modern-day Jordan as well as Hegra in Al Ula, carved out of sandstone desert cliffs. Also visible alongside the engravings were painted art forms, which showed human and mythological beings and an object that appeared to look like a chariot. The carvings have different styles, which suggests there was more than one artist behind them with the site possibly one of veneration or on a caravan route. These animal carvings are now thought to be the oldest large scale animal carvings in the world.