Oxford archeologists find new hunting sites in Arabian desert dating back to 8000 BCE

What do the recent discoveries tell us?

Oxford archeologists find new hunting sites in Arabian desert dating back to 8000 BCE

Distribution Map

The existence of the kites suggests a connection across northern Arabia that likely occurred through the present-day Nafud desert rather than around it. This also means that the during the times the structures were built, the area offered better climate conditions that supported wildlife as well as human habitation. The kites were likely built between the years 9000 BCE and 4000 BCE, which archaeologists refer to as the Holocene Humid Period.

The largest number of kites were built on the Al Labbah plateau, which shows no evidence of the Bronze Age. This would mean that the climate in the region became drier, leading to the shifting of the communities and even wildlife from the region.

A large number of questions still remain unanswered, such as who built these structures, who invested in building them, how many people these structures would feed, and whether the construction sites demonstrate the movement of people or ideas over a period of time.

The answers to other questions can be found in the journal The Holocene.


Remote-sensing analysis of open-source satellite imagery has identified a major, new distribution of undocumented hunting kite structures in northern Arabia. This new data has important implications on the environmental viability of hunting and on possible settlement patterns during the early and middle Holocene. Running across the eastern side of the Nafud Desert in Saudi Arabia, this research has identified star-shaped kites in a distribution that continues on to southern Iraq. From a broader perspective, this new distribution appears to represent a continuation of the well-known arc of kites recorded running principally through southern Syria and eastern Jordan. As well as representing an important archaeological identification in its own right, this new distribution also has important implications in terms of the paleoenvironment of the region, faunal dispersals and human cultural connections.

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