Famed Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass is to lead an excavation project in Saudi Arabia following several discoveries which suggest the Pharaoh Ramses III had a presence in the Arabian Peninsula.
The former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs said during a press statement late last month that he had a meeting in Riyadh with the head of the Heritage Authority of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, Jasir Al-Harbash. The project is expected to launch in November with substantial support from the Saudis.
Hawass revealed that papyrus records have confirmed that Ramses III sent trade missions to extract copper from what is present-day Saudi Arabia. He also pointed out that there are many other regions found along the ancient trade route that linked the two countries more than 3,000 years ago. An important group of scarabs found in Saudi Arabia came from Egypt, he said.
The excavations are expected to focus on an established archaeological site at the kingdom's northwest in an oasis called Tayma, considered the oldest human settlement in the country.
In 2010 the Saudi Supreme Commission for Tourism and Antiquities announced the discovery of a rock near the settlement, described as the first confirmed hieroglyphic inscriptions in the peninsula.
Hawass, who was then Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities, called for "the two countries to cooperate to uncover the Pharaonic presence in the Arabian Peninsula."
In 2019 archaeologists discovered a hieroglyphic inscription containing the signature of Ramses III. The significant find, according to scholars suggests that the pharaoh was present in the region, as it is customary that such inscriptions are engraved only in the presence of the pharaoh himself.