BBC – Travel – Saudi Arabia’s obscure ancient civilisation

Jordan’s sandstone-carved city of Petra is commonly revered as the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom, an ancient Arabic civilisation that grew in northern Arabia and the southern Levant in between about 312BC and 106AD. However a couple of hundred kilometres south, a sweltering three-to-four-hour drive from Saudi Arabia’s city of Medina, lie the remains of a strange settlement that was when a crucial centre of their magnificent civilisation.

Till historical excavations in the last couple of years, little was learnt about Saudi Arabia’s ancient culture, which left huge rock-carved monoliths in the large desert. Mada’in Saleh, a Unesco-listed website often called Hegra, was a crucial Nabataean center along an ancient trade path linking Persia to the East with the Mediterranean world to the west. The surrounding location of al-Ula is a sensational sand-swept landscape of ancient ruins and millennia-old burial places, much of which stays unspoiled to this day.

Mada’in Saleh has actually been lived in because the first Century BC and was a busy center for incense and spice trading till the intrusion of the Romans in the first Century ADVERTISEMENT. The website is consisted of more than 100 boulder-cut, huge burial places, showing the Nabataeans’ artisanal expertise. Qasr al-Farid (” The Lonely Castle”) is among the most stunning, with stairs at its crown thought to support the soul’s passage to paradise. Greco-Roman, Assyrian and Egyptian architectural impacts, such as eagles, sphinxes, triangles and columns, show up throughout the sandstone-chiselled burial places.

The millennium-old website has actually stayed unspoiled for centuries, mainly owing to Saudi Arabia’s dry, dry environment. Due to the continuous coronavirus pandemic, it is because of resume for tourist in October 2020, and the federal government is pumping financial investment into the surrounding al-Ula area to bring in potential travelers.

( Video by Ana González & & Frederick Bernas, text by Yasmin El-Beih)

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