Al-Ahsa museum provides a detailed history of Eastern Province

The Al-Ahsa Archaeological and Heritage Museum in Al-Hofuf contains valuable archaeological pieces. (SPA)
Updated 23 December 2018

Al-Ahsa museum provides a detailed history of Eastern Province

  • The area dedicated to the Dilmun civilization (which began in the 3rd millennium BCE and continued until around 500 BCE) provides a history of the emergence of camel herders in the Gulf

JEDDAH: The Al-Ahsa Archaeological and Heritage Museum in Al-Hofuf, which opened in 1983, contains valuable archaeological pieces and other treasures from Al-Ahsa’s long and storied history. Each room is dedicated to different eras — from the Stone Age, through the Dilmun period to the Babylonian and Assyrian eras — and the civilizations that emerged during those periods.
As well as displaying historical items, the museum is also responsible for their restoration, if necessary, and hosts regular lectures.
The museum houses more than 1,400 antiquities, as well as photographs, coins, manuscripts and other documents.
The first room visitors enter is home to Stone Age items dating back to 5000 BCE. You can see a history of the geology of the area beginning millions of years ago, and learn of the commercial and agricultural importance of the area and of the wider Arabian Gulf.
The room also displays tools and valuables from Ain Qannas and Al-Dosriyah that show the influence the area had on neighboring civilizations during the three periods of the Stone Age — Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic.

Flora and fauna
The museum’s courtyards showcase early life in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, including the flora and fauna of the desert around Al-Ahsa. There are prototypes here of some ancient boats and tools used by pearl divers and fishermen in the Gulf.
The area dedicated to the Dilmun civilization (which began in the 3rd millennium BCE and continued until around 500 BCE) provides a history of the emergence of camel herders in the Gulf (around 1700 BCE) and of cities in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula.
The museum also features maps of trade routes (both land and sea) in the Arabian Peninsula and its surroundings, in addition to examples of the languages prevalent in the eastern part of the peninsula before Islam, along with an overview of writing and calligraphy in Islamic heritage.
Visitors will also learn how Arab tribes were united in the Sasanian Empire, which was the last kingdom before the rise of Islam and was a major power for more than 400 years.
Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Farida, director of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) in Al-Ahsa, said the museum’s oldest exhibits are tools from the Neolithic period that were discovered in Al-Ahsa, Yabrin and Ain Qannas. The style of these tools, he explained, suggest that flora and fauna were abundant in the region at that time.
The museum was established, Al-Farida told the Saudi Press Agency, in order to protect heritage sites and facilitate their exploration, to store, document and maintain pieces of historical and archaeological importance, and to help introduce local history and heritage to the people of Saudi Arabia.
He highlighted that the museum includes a room divided into three areas, which features a map of archaeological sites in the Eastern Province, a painting of Al-Ahsa museum, and another painting of the development of modern-day Saudi Arabia. Photos of King Abdul Aziz inaugurating various projects in the Eastern Province are also on display, along with old photos of Al-Ahsa from the 1930s and 1940s.
Much of the museum, he noted, focuses on the rise of Islam and the establishment of caliphates in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, including the construction of the oldest mosques in Hajjar, Al-Ahsa and Uqair by the Banu Abdul Qays tribes.
Other rooms, he said, highlight the reigns of local rulers of Al-Ahsa, including the Uyunids, Jabrids and Usfurids, up to the era of King Abdul Aziz. There are tools and materials that shed light on the lives of Bedouins, rural and urban communities, and the cities and markets of Al-Ahsa.
There are even some pieces of pottery found by chance by a man who was having a house built in the eastern part of Al-Ahsa a few years ago, Al-Farida said.
These turned out to date back to the pre-Islamic period and are the oldest pieces of pottery to have been unearthed in the Kingdom.
Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the SCTH, and Prince Badr bin Mohammed bin Jalawi, governor of Al-Ahsa province, have both examined these pottery pieces in person, Al-Farida said.


Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

Updated 22 November 2019

Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

  • Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world

DIRIYAH: With the establishment of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), the historical site of Diriyah will become one of the largest and most important international destinations.

The DGDA seeks to transform the site into a location to host activities and events aimed at exchanging historical and cultural knowledge through museums and venues spread throughout
Al-Turaif District.

 The DGDA aims to celebrate the people of Diriyah by telling their stories and demonstrating their social, cultural and historical the roots, as the cradle of the first Saudi state and a symbol of the beauty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and
its people.

 Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world. It was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010 — one of five Saudi sites listed.

Not far from Al-Turaif District is the historic Al-Bujairi District, which was a center for spreading science and knowledge during the prosperity of Diriyah, as the capital of the first Saudi state. 

Today it houses many commercial centers and cafes and is the perfect destination to experience Saudi cuisine.

One of the historical landmarks in Al-Turaif District is Salwa Palace, which is located in the northeastern part. It is the largest of its landmarks and spans over 10,000 square meters. It was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud in 1765, and is historically known as the home of the first royal family. 

The palace houses the Diriyah Museum, which presents the history and development of the first Saudi state through works of art, drawings, models and documentaries.

BACKGROUND

At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides.

Salwa Palace forms an integrated architectural system with its residential, administrative, cultural and religious units.

 Al-Turaif District also includes the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mosque, known as the Great Mosque or Al-Turaif Mosque. It is adjacent to Salwa Palace on the north side, and Imams used to lead Friday prayers there.

 To make movement between the mosque and the palace easier, Imam Saud bin Abdul Aziz built a bridge to connect them on the upper floor. The mosque houses a religious school to teach religious sciences. It was formerly the largest mosque in the Arabian Peninsula and was built to symbolize the strength and unity of the Saudi state.

 At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides. It was settled by Mani’ Al-Muraydi, the oldest ancestor of the House of Saud, in the 15th century. 

Ghusaybah is a well-established location, carefully chosen for the establishment of the new governorate, and its location played a major role in the protection of Hajj convoys and trade passing through its areas of influence in Al-Arid region.

 Ghusaybah was the seat of an independent governorate before the founding of the first Saudi state. It provided protection for the northern gate of Diriyah during the campaign of Ibrahim Pasha in 1818.

 Samhan is one of the historical areas south of Ghusaybeh on a triangle overlooking the valley when it meets another tributary, the villages of Omran. It directly overlooks the districts of Qusayrin, Mrayih, and Al-Turaif. This location was important during the reign of Imam Mohammed bin Saud and his son Samhan, being a well-fortified site during the siege of Diriyah. It was selected by Imam Abdullah to be his defense headquarters.

 In the field of philanthropy, one may mention “Sabala Moudhi” which was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, who made it a charitable endowment in the name of his mother, Moudhi bint Sultan bin Abi Wahtan, wife of Imam Mohammed bin Saud. 

It is located east of the Salwa Palace on the southeast of Al-Turaif District. It is a two-story building and was established to provide free accommodation for visitors coming to the city of Diriyah.