Tayma a treasure house of culture, antiquities

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Updated 26 July 2015
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Tayma a treasure house of culture, antiquities

RIYADH: A number of recent archaeological discoveries show that Tayma in Saudi Arabia has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, around the 4th millennium BC.
Recently, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) announced the discovery of a rock near Tayma bearing an inscription of Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses III (1186–1155 BC). This was the first confirmed find of a hieroglyphic inscription on Saudi soil.
Based on this discovery, researchers have hypothesized that Tayma was part of an important land route between the Red Sea coast of the Arabian Peninsula and the Nile Valley. Hence, Tayma, a large attractive oasis located in the northeastern part of Saudi Arabia, some 264 km southeast of Tabuk and 400 km north of the holy city of Madinah, has emerged as a major historical and tourist destination for one and all.
In the center of Tayma is a large well, thought to be around 2,500 years old. It is also mentioned in the Bible. The famous Tayma stones, inscribed in Aramaic, of two millenia or older, are now in the Louvre Museum of France, but thousands of other inscriptions of pre-Islamic Thamudic script have been found in the area and are stored in the city’s museum.
The city had long been a stopping place for caravans crossing the deserts of Arabia. According to SCTNH Vice President Ali Ibrahim Al-Ghabban, the discovery of the inscribed rock indicates that Tayma was on an important land route between the western coast of Arabia and the Nile Valley. The route connected the Nile Valley, Port Qulzum, the city of Suez, and then to Srabit near the port of Abu Zenima on the Gulf of Suez.
Tayma is also mentioned in ancient Assyrian texts dating back to the 8th Century BC, and is referred to numerous times in the Hebrew Bible. Babylonian King Nabonidus spent 10 years in Tayma. His royal complex is currently being excavated. Last year a fragment of a cuneiform text mentioning Nabonidus was discovered there.
The oldest mention of the oasis city appears as “Tiamat” in Assyrian inscriptions. The oasis developed into a prosperous city, rich in water wells and handsome buildings. Not only this, cuneiform inscriptions possibly dating from the 6th Century BC have been recovered from Tayma.
There are three main factors which impact on the historical interpretation of Tayma: The existence of an oasis as a precondition for the settlement of humans; its function as a trade-station on the incense route; and the residence of the Babylonian King Nabonidus in the mid-6th Century BC.
As late as the 11th century, according to historian Al-Bakri, Tayma was known as a wealthy place with a large city wall. Archaeological investigation of the site is ongoing.
There are several places to see and explore in Tayma and around that old city. One of them is Qasr Al-Ablaq, which is located on the southwest side of the city. It was built by poet and warrior Samuel ibn Adiya and his grandfather Adiya in the 6th Century.
Another attraction is Qasr Al-Hamra built in the 7th Century. Other places of historical importance include Qasr Al-Radhm, cemeteries, Qasr Al-Bejaidi, Al-Hadiqah Mound and Tayma Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography.
Many artifacts from Tayma’s history are exhibited in other museums. Early finds such as the “Tayma Stele” are at the Louvre in Paris, while the National Museum of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh and the Jeddah Regional Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography also have significant collections of items from, or related to, ancient Tayma.


Asir’s ancient villages revived under tourism plan

Governorates of the region have introduced programs and activities aimed at visitors and tourists. (SPA)
Updated 16 June 2019
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Asir’s ancient villages revived under tourism plan

  • The municipality of Dhahran Al-Janoub has equipped the ancient palace on King Khalid Road to be the headquarters for all activities of the initiative

DHAHRAN: A “Hospitality” initiative, implemented by Prince Turki bin Talal, governor of Asir region, under the slogan “Hello 1000,” has restored ancient sites and villages to boost tourism in Asir.
Governorates of the region have introduced programs and activities aimed at visitors and tourists.
In Dhahran Al-Janoub governorate, officials and residents have focused on restoring ancient sites in the area, including the Elephant’s Road, mountain inscriptions and archaeological villages.
Dhahran Al-Janoub Gov. Mohammed bin Falah Al-Qarqah, said that summer activities made the Hospitality initiative a basic pillar, and a starting point for all programs and events.
The municipality of Dhahran Al-Janoub has equipped the ancient palace on King Khalid Road to be the headquarters for all activities of the initiative. The palace contains a museum and a historic photo gallery.

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Folklore and poetry evenings are also held every Monday evening during summer.

Al-Qarqah said that large numbers of tourists are keen to visit the area, especially in summer.
A “Tourist Caravan” takes visitors to sites and archaeological villages every Tuesday, using special cars with tour guides.
The initiative includes a “Helping the Visitor” program implemented by Al-Bir Charity Association in Dhahran Al-Janoub to provide assistance to visitors in case of emergency, including financial aid, housing and transportation.