Mada'in Saleh , also called Al-Hijr, el Hijr, and Hegra (so in Greek and Latin, e.g. by Pliny ), is a pre-Islamic archaeological site located in the Al-Ula sector, within the Al Madinah Region of Saudi Arabia. A majority of the vestiges date from the Nabatean kingdom (1st century CE). The site constitutes the kingdom’s southernmost and largest settlement after Petra, its capital. Traces of Lihyanite and Roman occupation before and after the Nabatean rule, respectively, can also be found in situ. Accounts from the Qur’an place the settlement of the area by the tribe of Thamud after Noah but before Moses, which can be interpreted as the 3rd millennium BC.

According to the Islamic text, the Thamudis, who would carve out homes in the mountains, were punished by Allah for their persistent practice of idol worship, the non-believers being struck by a sound wave. Thus, the site has earned a reputation down to contemporary times as a cursed place— an image which the national government is attempting to overcome as it seeks to develop Mada'in Saleh, officially protected as an archaeological site since 1972, for its tourism potential.

In 2008 UNESCO proclaimed Mada'in Saleh as a site of patrimony, becoming Saudi Arabia’s first World Heritage Site. It was chosen for its well-preserved remains from late antiquity, especially the 131 rock-cut monumental tombs, with their elaborately ornamented façades, of the Nabatean kingdom

The Lihyans 

Lihyan (Arabic:لحيان) is an ancient Arab kingdom. It was located in Mada'in Saleh, and is known for its Old North Arabian inscriptions dating to ca. the 6th to 4th centuries BCE. Dedanite is used for the older phase of the history of this kingdom since their capital name was Dedan (see Biblical Dedan), which is now called Al-`Ula oasis located in northwestern Arabia, some 110 km southwest of Teima.

The Lihyanites later became allies of the Nabataeans.Little is known about the Lihyan kingdom. Arab genealogies consider the Banu Lihyan to be descended from Ishmael.

Pre-Nabatean vestiges 

Archaeological traces of cave art on the sandstones and epigraphic inscriptions, considered by experts to be Lihyanite script, on top of the Athleb Mountain,[6] near Mada'in Saleh, have been dated to the 3rd–2nd century BCE,[5] indicating the early human settlement of the area, which has an accessible source of freshwater and fertile soil. The settlement of the lihyans became a center of commerce, with goods from the east, north and south converging in the locality.

Nabatean settlements 

Myrrh was one of the luxury items that had to pass through the Nabatean territory to be traded elsewhere.

The extensive settlement of the site took place during the 1st century CE, when it came under the rule of the Nabatean king Al-Harith IV (9 BCE –40 CE), who made Mada'in Saleh the kingdom’s second capital, after Petra in the north. The place enjoyed a huge urbanization movement, turning it into a city.[6] Characteristic of Nabatean rock-cut architecture, the geology of Mada'in Saleh provided the perfect medium for the carving of monumental and settlements, with Nabatean scripts inscribed on their façades.The Nabateans also developed oasis agriculture—digging wells and rainwater tanks in the rock and carving places of worship in the sandstone outcropsSimilar structures were featured in other Nabatean settlements, ranging from southern Syria to the north, going south to the Negev, and down to the immediate area of Hedjaz. The most prominent and the largest of these is Petra.

At the crossroad of commerce, the Nabatean kingdom flourished, holding a monopoly for the trade of incense, myrrh and spices. Situated on the overland caravan route and connected to the Red Sea port of Egra Kome, Mada'in Saleh, then referred to as Hegra among the Nabateans, reached its peak as the major staging post on the main north–south trade route


Travel poster and three spot illustrations to accompany it for Illustration Seminar. My randomly-selected prompt was Mada'in Saleh, a really neat archaeological site in Saudi Arabia! The poster highlights the strange rock formations that jut out of the desert, and the three spot illustrations show ways that people in Saudi Arabia have manipulated the environment to their benefit.


Arabistan'ın Petra'sı

Petra’nın 470 km. güneydoğusunda bir başka Nebatî kenti olan Hegra bulunurdu. Günümüzde Suudi Arabistan’ın Al-`Ula kenti yakınlarında bulunan ve Al Hijr (Mada'in Saleh) olarak adlandırılan bu arkeolojik sitede 4 nekropol alanında 131 anıtsal kaya-mezarı bulunmaktadır.

Jabal al-Mahjar; Qasr al walad; Alan C ve Jabal al-Khuraymat olarak adlandırılan nekropollerde bulunan kumtaşı kayalara oyulmuş mezarlar muhteşem bir mimari özellik gösterir.

Nebatîler, MÖ 4.yy ile M.S 1.yy arasında varlığını sürdüren Helenistik yapıda bir krallık kurmuşlardı. M.S. 106 yılında ise Roma egemenliğine girmişlerdi. Nebatiler Fırat ırmağından Kızıldeniz'e kadar uzanan ve Suriye ile Arabistan arasındaki sınır bölgesindeki vahalardaki yerleşimleri kapsayan ve “Nebate” ismi verilen alanda yaşayan kadim semitik, güney Ürdün'lü, Kenan'lı ve kuzey Arabistan'lı Arami dilini kullanan Araplardı.