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French Engineer Returns Ancient Coins to Saudi Arabia's AlUla

French Engineer Returns Ancient Coins to Saudi Arabia's AlUla

Friday, 21 February, 2020 - 06:45
Visitors take pictures at majestic rock-hewn tombs of Madain Saleh near the city al-Ula, Saudi Arabia January 25, 2019. Picture taken January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
Paris - Asharq Al-Awsat

A French geological engineer has returned historical coins he had received during a trip to AlUla in 1966. Lefèvre was on a mission with the Saudi Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources when he visited AlUla in 1966. While wandering in the Hegra site (the first Saudi site featured in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites), he took these coins from a kid who lived in the region.

After over 50 years, Lefèvre visited "AlUla - Wonders of Arabia Exhibit" currently held at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, and remembered the time he spent in AlUla and the coins he got during his visit. Then, he contacted the Royal Commission for AlUla to return the coins.

Lefèvre met Dr. Abdulrahman Alsuhaibaini, the RCU's acting director of Museum and Exhibitions at the Institut du Monde Arabe and handed over the coins.

The coins will now be studied by RCU archaeologists to determine their origin and to better understand the role of AlUla as a crossroad of different ancient civilizations and cultures.

Speaking about the returned coins, Alsuhaibaini said: "It's a very exciting discovery. Our specialized teams will use the modern scientific methods to clean the coins and study them. Most of the coins found in the Hegra region belong to the Nabateans or the Romans with few other coins date back to the kingdom of Lihyan."

Alsuhaibaini also thanked Lefèvre for his contribution to the protection of the Saudi heritage by returning the valuable pieces to their country of origin.

The Saudi law protects heritage and antiquities, and criminalizes any excavations that are not carried out formally.

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