Delegates at the final day of the first AlUla World Archaeology Summit participated in a series of lively discussions on the future of archaeology and its ability to enact meaningful change for society.
The discussions - ranging from the usefulness of ancient wisdom in a modern context to digital archaeology and inclusive archaeology - reflected the ambition of the summit. With its four broad themes of identity, ruinscapes, resilience and accessibility, the summit generated interdisciplinary conversations that moved beyond the specialist mindset in order to promote archaeology to wider audiences.
Abdulrahman Alsuhaibani, Executive Director of Archaeology, Conservation and Collections at the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), said: "This summit was exceptional. It was unique. We discussed topics vital to the future of archaeology with a broader perspective - and I hope we continue the discussion."
Organised by RCU, the summit included 327 attendees from 39 countries, 80+ speakers, 50 youth delegates participating in the Future Forum, representation from 167 institutions including 65 universities, and a gender ratio of 47% female to 53% male.
The summit's final day featured the announcement of a new prize for young archaeologists. The AlUla World Archaeology Summit Award of Excellence is to be awarded at future summits and will promote the science of archaeology, Dr Alsuhaibani said. More details will be announced later.
The summit showcased AlUla's position as a hub of archaeological activity. RCU is sponsoring one of the world's largest archaeological research programmes across AlUla and Khaybar, with 12 current surveys, excavations and specialist projects. Rich cultural landscapes are being revealed, including funerary avenues, mustatils, ancient cities, inscriptions in 10 languages, rock art and complex agricultural practices. AlUla is the site of Hegra, which in 2008 was inscribed as Saudi Arabia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The summit offered delegates a platform for advancing archaeology and cultural heritage management in their interface with other disciplines. This gathering of leaders from academia, government, non-government organisations, industry, and young people representing the next generation of archaeologists was created to not only enrich the archaeological community and help protect shared history but also to open up a larger reflection of what and how archaeology, and more broadly cultural heritage, can contribute to transformational changes in society.
The summit's Future Forum provided a platform for young people to engage in meaningful dialogue and debate about the future of archaeology. It offered a space for them to develop their own perspectives and ideas and contribute to the conversation in fundamental ways.
For more on the summit, go to https://www.worldarchaeologysummit.com
About the Royal Commission for AlUla
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to preserve and develop AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in north-west Saudi Arabia. RCU's long-term plan outlines a responsible, sustainable, and sensitive approach to urban and economic development that preserves the area's natural and historic heritage while establishing AlUla as a desirable location to live, work, and visit. This encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education, and the arts, reflecting a commitment to meeting the economic diversification, local community empowerment, and heritage preservation priorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 programme.
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