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Around 10,0000 BCE, a significant climate change occurred, altering environments, flora, and fauna in most parts of the world.Following the Pleistocene, the Holocene or Recent epoch, witnessed a marked global warming that we still experience today.In this case, a rock art panel may be judged to be younger, older or basically contemporaneous with another petroglyph, a site, an artifact, or other evidence of known antiquity.Relative dating, although somewhat less satisfying than absolute dating in terms of precision, is considerably more successful for petroglyphs.Given the current status of direct chronometric dating methods for Arabian petroglyphs, it is rare that the precise age of a rock art panel can be determined.

Many of the rock outcrops bearing Neolithic images never developed dark desert varnish at all.

The Holocene Wet Phase, as it is called, fluctuated greatly between humid and dry periods and then reverted to a more consistent arid condition around 3800 BCE, as the rain belt retreated southward (Parker et al. The oldest known petroglyphs in Saudi Arabia are believed to date to the Neolithic period or Early Arabian Pastoral, which appears to coincide with at least part of the Holocene Wet Phase.

These images are typically carved or pecked deeply into the rock surface.

This is not typical of the rock art in Saudi Arabia, however, which tends to be exposed and lacking any settlement or camp next to the cliff face.

A palimpsest of animals from different ages at Shuwaymis: Faint images of Neolithic aurochsen (wild cattle), more recent camels and cavalryman, still younger men with exaggerated hands.

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