(L) Badlands area of AlUla in north-west Saudi Arabia.
(R) A rock art panel shows two dogs hunting an ibex, surrounded by cattle.

ALULA, SAUDI ARABIA: A team of archaeologists in north-west Saudi Arabia has uncovered the earliest evidence of dog domestication by Saudi Arabia's ancient inhabitants.

The discovery came from one of the projects in the large-scale archaeological surveys and excavations of the region commissioned by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU).

The researchers found the dog's bones in a burial site that is one of the earliest monumental tombs identified in Arabia. Evidence shows the earliest use of the tomb was circa 4300 BC  and received burials for at least 600 years during the Neolithic-Chalcolithic era.
This is the earliest evidence of a domesticated dog in Arabia by a margin of circa 1,000 years. It was in the volcanic uplands site that 26 fragments of a single dog's bones were found, alongside with bones from 11 humans. The dog's bones showed signs of arthritis, which suggests the animal lived with the humans into its middle or old age.

The dog's bones were dated to between circa 4200 and 4000 BC. Rock art found in the region indicates that the Neolithic inhabitants used dogs when hunting ibex, wild asses and other animals.

Located 1,100km from Riyadh in north-west Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a vast area, covering 22,561sq km, includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years.