Discovering the ritual history of an ancient Saudi stone monument

A far-reaching examination of an archeological site in Saudi Arabia reveals new insight into mustatils — stone landmarks from the Late Neolithic time frame remembered to have been utilized for ceremonial purposes. Melissa Kennedy of the College of Western Australia, Perth, and associates, related to the Imperial Commission for Al-Ula, present these discoveries in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on Walk 15, 2023.

Worked around a long time ago, mustatils are rectangular, low-walled, stone designs that reach from 20 to 600 meters long. Analysts originally found them during the 1970s, and more than 1,600 mustatils have now been found, essentially amassing in northern Saudi Arabia.

Ongoing unearthings in the city of AlUla recommend that mustatils were utilized for ceremonial purposes, including situations involving creature contributions. Presently, Kennedy and partners have led a broad exhumation at a grave found 55 miles east of Al-Ula. This mustatil is 140 meters in length and is developed from neighborhood sandstone.

The specialists’ examination included the ID of 260 sections of creature skulls and horns, essentially from homegrown steers, as well as from homegrown goats, gazelles, and little ruminants. Virtually all of these remaining parts were grouped around a huge, upright stone, deciphered to be a betyl. Radiocarbon dating has recommended that the betyl is one of the most seasoned bones recognized in the Middle Eastern Landmass, and the bones give the absolute earliest proof for the taming of dairy cattle in northern Arabia.

This concentrate additionally uncovered proof for a few periods of contributions at the mustached, as well as the interment of a grown-up male human, proposing that the site might have been the objective of rehashed journeys.

Thinking about every one of the new details, the specialists recommend that ceremonial conviction and financial variables were all the more firmly entwined for Neolithic individuals in northwest Arabia than recently suspected, and that this entrapment was shared over an expansive geographic region.

Credit: Kennedy et al., 2023, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0 (

Spatial connections between the fundamental and optional chambers.

The creators add, “The customary statement of creature horns and an upper cranial component inside the mustatil recommends a significant crossing point of conviction and financial life-routes in the late Neolithic of Northern Arabia. The consolidation of these two features proposes a well-established philosophical entrapment, one that was shared over a tremendous geographic distance, demonstrating a definitely more interconnected scene and culture than had recently been assumed for the Neolithic time frame in north-west Arabia.”

More information: Cult, herding, and ‘pilgrimage’ in the Late Neolithic of north-west Arabia: Excavations at a mustatil east of AlUla, PLOS ONE (2023). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0281904

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