Madain Saleh is situated in the north western area of Saudi Arabia. It was created by the Nabetians (the same people who built the magnificent Petra in Jordan). Madain Saleh is a spectacular site.
Located several hundred kilometers north of Medinah, it is the ancient and now uninhabited city of Madain Saleh. It is the best known and the most spectacular archaeological site in Saudi Arabia. During its prime, it was an important stop on the caravan routes from the incense-producing areas of southern Arabia to Syria, Egypt, Byzantium and other points. The immense stone tombs which have made it famous were carved between 100BC and AD100 and the city itself was the second city in the Nabataean empire, after Petra in modern-day Jordan.
The magnificent tombs of Al-Hijr / Madain Saleh are carved in the mountains about 22 km northeast of Al-'Ula. In ancient times the site was located on the trade route linking the Arabian Peninsula with Yemen in the south and Syria in the north. The tribes of Thamud were the earliest inhabitants of this region, and were mentioned in the Holy Quran. The Thamuds denied the message of God as revealed by Prophet Saleh and killed the sacred she-camel. Thus the curse of God fell upon them and they were destroyed and buried under the sand.
The next inhabitants of the region were the Nabataeans. Settling in Al-Hijr, they developed Madain Saleh as their second capital to control northwestern Arabia. Their main capital was Petra in Jordan. It was the Nabataeans who carved their rock cut tombs in the hills.
Al-Hijr flourished again during the Islamic period as it became an important station on the Syrian / Egyptian pilgrimage route to Makkah. The present name of Madain Saleh, was given to it by an Andalusian traveler in the year 747 H (1336 AD). There were railroad maintenance facility, a Railway depot and a fort of Ottoman troop in Madain Saleh at the time of the First World War.
It is an archaeological site and contains the ruins of an ancient town. It is contemporary to Madain Saleh where first Thamuds were inhabited and later the Nabataeans. Foundations of houses, remains of walls, a high concentration of pottery shards, bowls, beads, stone basin, ivory, wood, coins and other artifacts are recovered in large number from the site in addition to glass pieces, clay and stone statues of human and animal figures.
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