History and Archaeology of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a country in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. There is evidence that human habitation in the Arabian Peninsula dates back to about 125,000 years ago. It is now believed that the first modern humans to spread east across Asia left Africa about 75,000 years ago across the Bab-el-Mandeb connecting the Horn of Africa and Arabia. Medina is generally considered to be the "cradle of Islamic culture and civilization". The city existed for over 1,500 years before Muhammad's migration from Mecca, known as the Hijrah. Before the advent of Islam, the city was known as Yathrib (يَثْرِب), supposedly named after an Amalekite king, Yathrib Mahlaeil.

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Featured Article: Madain Saleh

The al-Hijr site (Madaen Saleh), was the first ever archeological site in Saudi Arabia to join the UNESCO's World Heritage List. It is located 22 kilometers to the north of al-Ula municipality in the Madina al-Munawara province, in the modern day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was known as al-Hijr, or Hegra, by the Nabataean people who carved its magnificent tombs into the golden Quweira sandstone outcrops. The splendor of the natural setting here must have reminded the Nabataeans of their capital, Petra, hewn into the rosey sandstone cliffs to the north in modern-day Jordan. Based on the many dated tomb inscriptions, Hegra thrived between 1 BCE -74 CE. The ruins of the ancient town of Hegra lie on the plain some distance from their tombs. The buildings, still for the most part unexcavated, were made of unimpressive sun-dried mudbrick. Most of what is known about Hegra comes primarily from the tombs, the many inscriptions carved into their façades, and references found elsewhere. Explore >

Featured Article: Haramayn Sharifain

The Haramayn (الحرمين‎) or Haramain refers to two holy sanctuaries of Masjid al-Haram and Masjid an-Nabawi in the cities of Mecca and Medina. These are the most sacred places for Muslims around the world, Masjid al-Haram being the first and Masjid an-Nabawi being the second. The importance of the first city of Islam, Mecca, stems from the fact that the Bait ul-Allah (House of Allah, the Kabah) is there as part of the Great Mosque of Mecca and that it was the birth place of prophet Muhammad. And the importance of Medina stems from the fact that it was the Dar al-Hijrah (house of migration) towards which prophet Muhammad migrated and made it his second home. Explore >

Featured Article: The Lion Tombs of Dadan

Lion tombs (مقابر الأسود الدادنية) are a group of ancient Dadanitic tombs cut from rock, with over than 20 tombs. The lion tombs are rock-cut burial niches decorated with reliefs of lions. The tombs are dated back between the 600-500BCE. According to the religious beliefs of the day, the lions protected those buried within the tombs. These tombs are evidence of 2600 years of settlement in the al-Ula, originally called Dedan. Lions symbolised power and protection and may have marked the burial of an elite member of society, perhaps even a member of royalty. These tombs are up to 50 metres above ground level, spurring the imagination of how they were carved without modern construction equipment. Explore >

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