Laborers in Saudi Arabia are recruited from abroad or from the poorer native classes. They are uneducated and tend to be superstitious. The ruling classes were as a rule, better educated but rather indifferent to that part of their own history that predated the Prophet.
This combination led to my adventure as a tomb robber.
The airport runway at Dhahran was being lengthened and bulldozers and gangs with shovels were working away one Spring day on this project when the side of a small mound was sheared off. An opening was exposed and it was obvious that the mound was an ancient tomb. The equipment drivers and laborers were gone in an instant spurred by their belief in ghosts, demons and devils which they were sure inhabited such places.
The Saudi authorities decided that the tomb and surrounding mounds which most likely were also tombs, should be leveled. Their rational was that these must be from the ‘”time of ignorance” and no good could come from them. We asked their indulgence for a week or two to allow us to do a little amateur archeology to which they tacitly agreed.
Four of we American couples armed ourselves with such tools as we could muster and set to work. The tomb opening was small and the inside appeared fragile. The danger of the whole thing collapsing was no small risk so we limited ourselves to only two of us inside at one time with one at the opening to pass things out. There were only a few scattered bones on the sand surface of the interior so we had to carefully dig. Containers of sand were then passed outside to be sifted and sieved.
Just below the surface we found more bones, a lot of pots many of the eared variety you have seen in biblical pictures. A few small glass objects were also found and a great number of beads and two beautiful rings were trapped in the screening process.
All in all we recovered over one hundred artifacts plus several hundred beads and shards. Four families had participated so we drew lots to divide our spoils fairly. I feel fortunate that my share included one of the rings which is set with a carnelian.
Upon returning to the States I consulted the Archeology department of a major University and was advised that my treasures were from a period between 200BC and 200AD.
Archeologists rightfully resent amateurs despoiling sites but in this case we had no choice as the mounds were soon leveled.