World Archaeology Summit – Al Ula, Saudi Arabia – 13-15 September 2023

I have been invited to participate in the World Archaeology Summit due to be held at Maraya, Ashar Valley, Al Ula, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 13-15 September 2023.

For more information about the World Archaeology Summit, visit

The Summit

The World Archaeology Summit will be a platform for advancing the field of archaeology, cultural heritage management and other disciplines. This new gathering of leaders from academia, government, non-government organizations, industry, and young people representing the next generation of archaeologists will not only enrich the archaeological community and help protect our shared history but also open up to a larger reflection of what and how archaeology, and more broadly cultural heritage, can contribute to transformational changes in society. Together, we will explore the value of understanding the past, of using that knowledge to inform the present, as we build a resilient future.

It is a global platform promoting archaeology and cultural heritage to wider audiences, and thereby broadening the impact of archaeology and archaeological discoveries on global relationships and society. As such, the Summit will inspire people to co-create visionary, heritage-based solutions to contemporary problems across sectors.

The international and national guests from different backgrounds will include leading practitioners and innovators in the field of archaeology, and the industries that could engage in its potential step change.

The World Archaeology Summit is a recurring event, with year-round engagement and a focus on partnerships, outcomes, and initiatives. It goes beyond traditional intellectual pursuits, focusing on innovative solutions that will have a long-lasting impact on the world.

The Setting

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is home to a rich cultural heritage, with a legacy created by various peoples that thrived within its diverse and dramatic landscapes.

Located in northwest Arabia, the region of AlUla has been a natural crossroads for millennia, attracting people due to its plentiful water resources, making it a precious palimpsest, home to a wealth of material culture, from lower Palaeolithic artefact scatters to late prehistoric stone structures to oasis cities such as Dadan, Hegra, Qurh, and Old Town.

Nabataean Hegra, a sister city of Petra and Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, may be AlUla’s most well-known place, but life in the valley flourished long before and after the height of the Nabataean Kingdom.

Dadan, located on the ancient Incense Route, which extended from Southern Arabia to Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia and beyond, became a hub of commercial and cultural exchange while ruled by the kings of Dadan and Lihyan in the 1st millennium BCE; Qurh became Arabia’s second largest city after Mecca, rising to prominence as a primary stop for pilgrims on the Hajj after Islam’s rapid expansion in the 7th and 8th centuries CE; later ‘Old Town’ emerged as a significant centre in the 12th century, acting as AlUla’s main hub and sustaining life in the region for centuries thereafter.

Join Us to Explore

How archaeology can be a vector for solving the challenges of communities across the world and affect transformational changes

A broad conversation and an open dialogue across disciplines
The impact of archaeology on humans and society
The cross-fertilization value for archaeology of insights from other disciplines

Focusing on not just what is practiced, but what can happen next – exploring new frontiers, and setting the frame for future changes in the sector – the Summit is curated to engage attendees in the inspiring surroundings of AlUla with excursions to archaeological sites in addition to the dialogues inside Maraya, one of the most stunning venues in the world.

The programme for the Summit is co-crafted by a diverse Advisory Board of authoritative voices that combines know-how from different sectors, fields of expertise, and cultures, making the Summit a truly global amalgam of knowledge.

Finally, the Summit will provide a platform for young people to engage in meaningful dialogue and debate about the future of archaeology. It will offer a space for them to develop their own perspectives and ideas and contribute to the conversation in fundamental ways.

Join us along with the many attendees from different sectors and geographic backgrounds all coming together to contribute meaningful interdisciplinary dialogue at the first World Archaeology Summit this September, 2023.

4 Key Themes, 60+ Speakers & Panelists – Parallel Youth Forum – Panels, Keynotes, Informal Dialogues and Excursions




Exploring the intricate relationship we have with our heritage and connection to the past, and how archaeology shapes our personal and shared identities in an increasingly globalized world.


Exploring archaeological paradoxes, practices, and dilemmas.


Exploring wisdom of the past which has much to teach us, and highlighting challenges that need to be overcome.


Exploring the past as a universal right by traversing topics of diversity, disability, and financial access to heritage.

Attendees of the 2023 World Archaeology Summit will include:
  • Academics
  • Anthropologists
  • Archaeologists
  • Architects
  • Commercial Sector Leaders
  • Engineers
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Government Officials
  • Heritage Specialists
  • Historians
  • IGO Leaders
  • International Organization Representatives
  • Legal Experts
  • NGO Heads
  • Philologists
  • Philosophers
  • Scientists
  • Small Business Owners
  • Storytellers
  • Students
  • Technology Innovators

Letters of Light Talks @ Louvre Abu Dhabi – 12 September 2023

Letters of Light Talks

12.09.23 | English | Free | Auditorium
Louvre Abu Dhabi presents two captivating talks that look into the profound themes of our new Letters of Light exhibition.

Talk 1: Letters of Light Curators Talk
Time: 17:00 – 18:00

Explore the exhibition’s artistic heritage as curators Laurent Héricher and Souraya Noujaim, alongside moderator Mariam AlDhaheri, take you on a captivating journey. Gain fresh insights into the living traditions, thoughts, and practices resonating with scriptural legacies in our world.


Talk 2: Archaeology and Architecture
Time: 18:30 – 19:30

Join Dr. Timothy Power, Dr. Mark Jonathan Beech, Manal Ataya, as they uncover the interconnectedness of cultures through the lens of archaeology, architecture, and the enduring power of foundational texts, images, and stories.

Join us in contemplating the lasting impact these legacies have on humanity.

Reservation is required. Please book separately for each talk.


New paper published about 6500 BCE structure on Ghagha Island

A new paper has just been published concerning the discovery of a remarkable 6500 BCE structure on Ghagha Island:

Noura Hamad Al Hameli, Richard Thorburn Cuttler, Mark Jonathan Beech, Rémy Crassard, Ahmed Abdalla Elfaki, Peter Magee & Kevin Lidour. 2023. New light on the Neolithic fertile coast: recent excavations on Ghagha Island (Abu Dhabi Emirate, UAE) and the emergence of domestic architecture in ancient Arabia.  Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 52: 139–155.


Ghagha island is located at the westernmost extent of Abu Dhabi emirate, c.1 km from the UAE mainland. Survey and excavation by the Department of Culture and Tourism: Abu Dhabi has identified two previously unknown Neolithic sites on the island (GHG0014 and GHG0063). GHG0014 comprises a cluster of stone-built rooms, preserved to nearly 1 m in height. GHG0063 is still under excavation but comprises ash lenses and stone features. Finds from both sites include bifacial barbed and tanged arrowheads, fragments of plaster vessels, and other stone implements.

Radiocarbon dates from GHG0014 indicate that it was occupied by 6500 cal BC. This is considerably earlier than any known domestic architecture in the region. A single assay from GHG0063 is in broad agreement with this chronology.

In this paper we explore the implications of these discoveries for Neolithic coastal life in the Arabian Gulf, especially considering our growing understanding of the Flandrian Transgression. In addition, we position these discoveries against the normative framework which sees trade with Ubaid period Mesopotamia as a catalyst for economic change. Lastly, we explore how both sites, in combination with the discoveries from Marawah Island, can disarticulate the linear narrative of the Neolithic revolution in the ancient Near East.

Keywords: Neolithic, stone architecture, settlement, Arabian Gulf, Bronze Age

New paper published about Iron Age and Late Islamic Lime Production

A new paper has just been published concerning Iron Age and Late Islamic period lime production on Jubail Island:

Aurore Lambert, Corentin Biets, Benjamin Durand, Célia Casado, Élodie Lassalle, Paloma Lorente-Sebastián, Thibaut Peres, Jan Veron, Samara Broglia de Moura, Mark Jonathan Beech, Richard Thorburn Howard Cuttler & Peter Magee. 2023. Characterizing techniques and marine resource exploitation for Iron Age and late Islamic lime production on Jubail Island (Abu Dhabi): the 2021 archaeological investigations. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 52: 221–235.


As part of Jubail Island’s development process, an archaeological investigation was undertaken by Eveha International in 2021, monitored by the Historic Environment Department at the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT), Abu Dhabi. The scientific goals were to identify and characterize the archaeological settlements on Jubail Island and to define the site’s environmental context. Both Iron Age and late Islamic lime production were discovered through heap-burning kilns and constructed kilns, using coral and shells as raw material. The island was used for lime production over a long period. No permanent settlements have been identified to date and artefacts are few. The production seems to be opportunistic and intermittent in scale. Further research is needed to relate the late Islamic period production to the lifestyle shift of the nomadic population as they shed light on an unsuspected and underrated kind of lime production. That is part of a much larger occupation of the island and of the intricate socio-cultural history of Abu Dhabi’s development. Considering the surrounding surveys and Abu Dhabi historical development, it merits further investigation and promotion to the general public.

Keywords: lime, mangrove, late Islamic period, Iron Age, kiln