Beautiful traces of Arabia’s first “boom”

Bronze head of a man, 1st Cent. BCE- 2nd C Qaryat al-Faw
Bronze head of a man, 1st Cent. BCE- 2nd C Qaryat al-Faw

When my brother Cameron read Gold, Frankincense and Trade, my review of archaeological treasures unearthed in Saudi Arabia and currently on view at the Sackler in DC, he added this:

“As I understand in the early ‘modern era’ centuries, the resin of the boswellia trees cultivated in Saudi Arabia were its first ‘petroleum boom’, and frankincense accounted for most of the exports from, and much of the income into, the kingdom. This was because polytheism still reigned in lower Europe and the incense provided the ambience for thousands of temples.   Alas, monotheistic Christianity eradicated the temples and demand for frankincense plummeted, leaving the kingdom in a severe depression. It would not be for another 1,500 years until the Saudis discovered they had another natural resource to tap and sell to the world, thus making them rich again.”

This colossus was found in al-Ula and dates to the 4th-3rd century BCE
This colossus was found in al-Ula and dates to the 4th-3rd century BCE
As any boom does, incense created trade routes which, in turn, spawned cosmopolitan cities that produced some pretty eye-catching art.

5th-2nd century BCE from al-Ula
5th-2nd century BCE from al-Ula

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