Aynuna (Saudi Arabia)
Dates of work: 12 November–15 December 2014
Co-directors: Prof. Michał Gawlikowski (PCMA UW), Dr. Abdullah al-Zahrani (Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage)
Deputy director: Dr. Karol Juchniewicz (PCMA UW)
Archaeologists: Abdullah al-Mutairi (Saudi Commission of Tourism and National Heritage), Walid al Badaywi (National Museum, Riyadh)
Topographers: Jakub Kaniszewski (freelance)
Glass specialist: Krystyna Gawlikowska, art historian (independent)
(Joint description of seasons 2014 and 2015)
The Aynuna Project is a new initiative of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology in collaboration with the Saudi Commission of Tourism and National Heritage. The site is located in the province of Tabuk in northwestern Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea coast. The fieldwork, carried out over the course of 2015, concerned an inland site, located on a rocky terrace overlooking the dry bed of Wadi Aynuna, about 3 km away from the coastline. A large rectangular structure, most probably a khan, was excavated and three other similar structures, interpreted as caravanserais, were tested. The excavations uncovered storage facilities as well as other buildings connected with trade, dated from the 1st century AD through the 8th century AD.
Aynuna is regarded by some scholars as the site of the Nabatean port of Leuke Kome, known from the historical record. The Nabatean Kingdom, with its capital in Petra, lasted from the 3rd century BC until AD 106 and its merchants were intermediaries in the trade exchange between Southern Arabia (present-day Yemen) and the Mediterranean basin.
The Aynuna Project, which is dedicated to the study of the infrastructure of international trade in the Red Sea area in the Roman period, is financed from a Harmonia 6 grant from the Polish National Science Centre (UMO-2014/14/M/HS3/00795).
[Text: Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 25]