The Archaeology of Saudi Arabia begins to open up

Brian G Turner

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#5
At least there appears to be an abundance of untouched pre-Islamic sites - certainly according to the article in the Independent. I would have been much more concerned about these being damaged, but it sounds more like Islamic heritage that is not valued - perhaps even feared.
 

Brian G Turner

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#7
I can understand the Saudi authorities not valuing some Islamic sites for their historical value, especially if they're fearful of them becoming shrines.

We've a long history of that in the West, from earlier Christians chopping bits from Roman statues, to recent decisions to destroy historical landmarks associated with people we'd rather forget - whether it's Germany demolishing Hitler's house, or Poland tearing down Soviet war memorials.

None of which I think are good decisions based solely on historical interest, but some would argue that context decides otherwise. I can only try to be pragmatic about such situations.

Anyway, back on topic - and I'm definitely excited to know more about the pre-Islamic historical sites. Especially as refusal to acknowledge them in the past may have actually protected some, and in number.
 

Vertigo

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#8
My understanding is that the clerics fear idolatry. They are concerned that people are worshipping sites like Mohammed's grave and his mother's grave when they should only be worshipping Allah. It's a bit like the concern that many Catholics are worshipping Mary instead of God. So if they believe people are worshipping a site instead of Allah they're inclined to move to tear that site down.

Big danger of drifting into religious discussion here, but I believe that is the motivation and also why ancient pre-Islamic sites are not of such a concern so long as people are no longer participating in any religions they may represent. For example access to the ruins of a recently discovered ancient(ish) Christian church has been blocked, though I believe it hasn't been destroyed.
 

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