History and Archaeology of Mecca


By the Editors of the Madain Project

Mecca also spelled Makkah (مكة المكرمة), is a city in the Hejazi region of Saudi Arabia. As the birthplace of prophet Muḥammad and the site of first revelation of the Quran, Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in Islam. According to Islamic tradition, the history of Mecca goes back to prophet Abraham (Ibrahim), who built the Kaaba with the help of his elder son Ishmael in around 2000 BCE, when the inhabitants of the site then known as Bakkah had fallen away from the original monotheism of Abraham through the influence of the Amalekites.

Back to Saudi Arabia / Back to Middle East

Brief History of Mecca

According to Islamic tradition, the origins of Mecca can be traced back to figures from the Bible, namely Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael. They were eventually joined by some members of the Yemeni tribe of Jurhum and the settlement began to grow. It is recounted that a member of the Jurhum tribe assisted Ishmael and his father in constructing the Ka'bah. This act held profound social, religious, political, and historical significance for the site and the broader region. With time, the city of Makkah, nestled amidst the desolate landscapes of the Arabian Peninsula, was inhabited by various Arabian tribes and developed in to a significant center for trade and commerce due to its strategic location along important caravan routes.

In the pre-Islamic era, Mecca was already a bustling hub of commerce and spirituality. The city served as a prominent center of Arabian paganism, with the Ka'bah housing numerous idols revered by various tribes across the Arabian Peninsula. Mecca's status as a pilgrimage site attracted pilgrims from far and wide, contributing to its economic significance. However, Mecca's history during this period is marked by tribal rivalries, nomadic lifestyles, and a diverse tapestry of cultural and religious beliefs, all of which would undergo a profound transformation with the advent of Islam in the seventh century CE.

History of Mecca

Archaeology of Mecca

Let's bring some history to your inbox

Starting in November 2023 we will be publishing a monthly newsletter / online magazine.
No spam, we promise.

Privacy Policy