Saudi Arabia’s Heritage Commission Monday announced the start of the archaeological excavation of the site of Zubala; south of Rafha Governorate in the Saudi Northern Border Region, as part of the commission’s excavation projects across the Kingdom.
The project is the first to excavate one of the historical Zubayda Trail’s stations; following the announcement of Prince Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Farhan, minister of culture and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Heritage Commission; of the commission’s intent to preserve the cultural heritage of the trail; and also the launch of the Zubayda Trail Program in the month of Ramadan.
The program sets out to study, research and publish its findings; surrounding the historical sites, and is currently working to launch new projects to explore the trail.
Principal way station for trade caravans and pilgrims
Zubala is mentioned in several historical sources; having been a principal way station for trade caravans and pilgrims on the Kufic pilgrimage route; known as the Zubayda Trail. The way station reached the height of its fame and prosperity during the Abbasid era; with early Arab sources citing its various markets, a fortress protecting the city, and a mosque.
The Zubala site has been subject to archaeological excavations since 2015; when works uncovered several findings, including a rectangular mosque and artifacts; including pottery, porcelain, soapstone and precision tools made of metal and glass.
The findings indicate the methods of manufacture and decoration as well as the creativity of early craftsmen, and the existence of a commercial relationship between Zubala and the surrounding cities of the Islamic world.
Current work aims to complete excavation of new parts of the site utilizing a new methodology that aligns with the objectives of the Zubayda Trail Program; following important discoveries in the excavated areas of the northwestern side of the site. Besides, having identified prominent aspects of the development of the city and the cultural role it played in the expansion of the trail’s crossing services.
The objectives of the Heritage Commission for the Zubala excavation project are to reveal and document the features of the site; preserve it as part of its responsibilities in the safeguarding and care of Saudi cultural heritage. Besides, highlighting the civilizational role of the Kingdom through various eras and historical periods.