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RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage signed an agreement with the Chinese National Heritage Department to conduct excavations at Al-Sirreen heritage site in Al-Lith governorate in the west of the Kingdom.

The signing took place during the second day of a Saudi exhibition at the National Chinese Museum in the capital Beijing.
Ali Al-Ghabban, deputy president and general supervisor for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program, said that work is underway to form a Saudi-Chinese team to start excavations.
He said that speeding up this agreement meets the request of the SCTH president during the opening of the exhibition at the National Chinese Museum.
A special visit was organized to the Marine Heritage Center in China on the second day of the exhibition. The center is submerged underwater and is affiliated with the Chinese Archaeological Department.
The agreement is related to cultural heritage and aims to carry out excavations at Al-Sirreen heritage site, which is a port located in the Red Sea. The port existed during the Islamic period and was one of the important and vital economic locations in the province.
Al-Ghabban said a joint Saudi-Chinese team will carry out excavations at the site, in addition to surveying underwater locations in the port. The site has pieces, which is a type of Chinese mosaic that was imported from China during that period, and was well known during the Song and Tung dynasties, which coincided with the Ummayad and Abbasid periods, which is almost 1,000 years ago.
“We expect the formation of work teams and excavations to start within two months, and the result of this work will be very important in revealing more information about ancient commercial relations between China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he added.
“Work is underway to form the Chinese team to participate with the Saudi team in this important work; work is also underway to issue all agreements and procedures to receive the Chinese team officially,” he said.
A team from the Chinese Archaeological Department has already visited the site and admired its nature and archaeological make-up, and it is ready to start surveying and excavating the site.
Al-Sirreen historical site is located on the west coast of the Kingdom, in Al-Lith governorate. It is a well-known port on the Red Sea and used to be a small town, but at the end of the 5th Century Hijri, it became one of the greatest ports on the Red Sea. By the 8th Century Hijri, the port was abandoned. The port is still visible and stands witness to many cultural events, which are seen in the basis of the buildings, the writings, pottery remains, mosaics and glasswork.
Al-Sirreen was an important town on the Yemen-Al-Hijaz road. The port played an important role on the marine trade routes in the Red Sea, especially the eastern ports, as well as interior cities and villages.

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