Historic Hima Well reveals the journeys of Arabia’s ancient caravans

Historic Hima Well reveals the journeys of Arabia’s ancient caravans
The site is made out of a series of seven fresh water wells, which includes more than 200 sites containing rock inscriptions, graves and stone circles. (Supplied)
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Updated 10 April 2021

Historic Hima Well reveals the journeys of Arabia’s ancient caravans

Historic Hima Well reveals the journeys of Arabia’s ancient caravans
  • Archaeological excavations carried out by SCTH discovered that the city of Najran is among the oldest inhabited places
  • The site contains numerous rock inscriptions and drawings that date back to before 3000 BC

MAKKAH: Hima Well, one of the most ancient and significant stops along the ancient trade routes of Arabia, untouched and unaltered, continues to fascinate researchers and archaeologists.

The site, about 140 km north of the city of Najran, is well preserved, and with its largely intact rock art depicting humans, animals, hunting tools, bows and spears and more, shows a picture of what was once an ancient route for caravans traveling from the southern regions of the Arabian Peninsula to its north.

Saleh Al-Muraih, a historical researcher specializing in the tourism and archaeology of Najran, told Arab News: “Hima Well is one of the most important historical sites in the Kingdom and contains numerous rock inscriptions and drawings that date back to before 3000 BC.”

“The site is made out of a series of seven fresh water wells covering an area of 30 km, which includes more than 200 sites containing rock inscriptions and drawings, graves, stone circles and historical wells,” he said.

Al-Muraih added: “Hima was the starting point for commercial caravans that gathered at the wells before taking one of two main roads. The firsts of these roads used to lead to Mesopotamia after passing through Al-Faw (also known as Qariah, an ancient city on the outskirts of the Empty Quarter), which is the archaeological site of the Kindah and Al-Yamama regions, known today as Najd. The second road used to lead to the Levant and Egypt after passing through the Hijaz region.”

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To date, 1,293 human drawings, 5,121 animal drawings, 3,616 Thamudic inscriptions, 2,775 Ancient South Arabian script inscriptions and three Nabataean inscriptions have been found in the region, while search and excavation operations are continuing in the Kingdom in general, and the region in particular, to uncover more monuments and historical cultural heritage.

Its dense rock art engravings are the legacy of the hundreds of caravans, departing from Al-Okhdood in the south, that passed by the well over the years. Ancient South Arabian script (Musnad), the South Arabian language or the Thamudic language can be found on these engravings alongside depictions of flora and fauna.

“The Saudi government took care of Hima Well, and there are fantastic fencing works taking place. This is coupled with continuous scientific research that has studied the site and we hope for the completion of the procedures that would see the addition of the site to UNESCO’s World Heritage List,” Al-Muraih said.

“There has been numerous land surveys and protection efforts exerted in the area. Fortunately, Hima does not have any violations or anything that could harm these monuments, while the people of the region are highly cultured when it comes to protecting these sites and therefore preserving these significant historical monuments,” he said.

As one of Najran’s 86 historical sites, Hima Well combines heritage and tourism in one area. Tour guides, a cooperative local community and cooperative government bodies are all on hand to speak about the historic significance of the well.

Dr. Salma Hawsawi, professor of ancient history at King Saud University, told Arab News: “The Kingdom has a great deal of archaeological sites and historical cities that have witnessed construction works over the course of thousands of years. They are truly worthy of preservation and development so that they can cope with the current requirements.”

She added: “Historical cities, regardless of their history and origins, are many. Among those worth mentioning is the southwestern city of Najran, which was mentioned by numerous classical historians such as Strabo, in his book ‘Geography,’ where he called it Negrana, as he talked about the Roman campaigns in the Arabian Peninsula in the years 24-25 BC, and Ptolemy, who referred to it as Negara Metropolis.”

“In his book, Yaqut Al-Hamawi, a Muslim historian, said that the city was named after the first person that inhabited it, Najran bin Zaydan bin Sabaa. What also confirms how old this city was is the mention of its name in the inscriptions of Sabaean rulers such as Karib’il, Samah Ali Yanuf and Yitha’amar Bayyin,” she said.

According to Dr. Hawsawi, the geographical importance of the Kingdom’s southwestern region stems from its location between Africa and Asia. This is coupled with the importance of the coastal region in terms of migration, and some settlements are found to date back from the first century BC to the Islamic era.

“Archaeological excavations carried out by SCTH discovered that the city of Najran is among the oldest inhabited places. It did so through archaeological evidence found at various sites belonging to different periods in history, starting with the ancient Stone Age to the Islamic era,” she said.

Hawsawi said: “Rock art and inscriptions are the elements that most distinguish the region’s monuments, as they provided us with a lot of information regarding clothes, accessories, weapons, stone stoves, rectangular and conical structures and tanks, especially around the Hima Well area.”

Most of the region’s rock drawings showcase camels, cows, goats and geese, along with some predatory animals such as lions and wolves, Dr. Hawsawi said. “Ostriches were given special attention in terms of their decoration and size, in addition to them being drawn in various positions, highlighting the significance of this animal.”

The drawings show horse battles, where knights used spears, and limited hunting scenes, where dogs were used to hunt goats, she said, noting that “there are drawings of humans that are larger than the normal size, while some of them had their heads covered. Men’s beards were shown clearly. Humans wore necklaces and collars, while some men wore anklets to produce sounds that suit the dance moves and music. Outfits were made out of short gowns that were wrapped around the middle. Other drawings showed people dancing with musical instruments that resemble the rebab.”

Dr. Hawsawi said: “Thamudic writings were found in the region in large quantities, followed by the Ancient South Arabian script and the Kufic script, which dates back to the Islamic era. The multiplicity of scripts found in the region sheds light on the succession of civilizations. In addition, Ancient South Arabian script inscriptions found engraved on top of Thamudic inscriptions highlights how old the Thamudic script really is.”

“Most of the inscriptions consist of names such as ‘Saad,’ ‘Awathat’ and ‘Rafadat,’ and of deities such as ‘Al’ and ‘Kahl,’ while inscriptions were usually found next to drawings of animals,” she said.

Dr. Hawsawi said that “among the long inscriptions is a 12-line one belonging to King ‘Dhu Nuwas,’ in which he described his victory over the Ethiopians in 512.”

To date, 1,293 human drawings, 5,121 animal drawings, 3,616 Thamudic inscriptions, 2,775 Ancient South Arabian script inscriptions and three Nabataean inscriptions have been found in the region, while search and excavation operations are continuing in the Kingdom in general, and the region in particular, to uncover more monuments and historical cultural heritage.


Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases
Updated 34 min 28 sec ago

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,064 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 334

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 13 new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,072.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 942 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 426,384 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,572 remain active and 1,336 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 334, followed by Makkah with 286, the Eastern Province with 112, Asir recorded 50 and Madinah confirmed 40 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,064 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 409,740.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said on Sunday it has prepared 3,156 mosques and chapels in the Makkah region to hold Eid Al-Fitr prayer this year, which will be held 15 minutes after sunrise.
It also announced it has completed preparing and equipping 1,074 in Madinah and its affiliated governorates for the Eid prayer.
The Ministry of Interior said 25,672 violations were committed against precautionary coronavirus measures in the Kingdom from May 2 — 8, with the capital, Riyadh, recording the highest with 8,909 violations, followed by Makkah with 4,556, and the Eastern Province with 3,805 violations.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 158 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.29 million.


Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 50 min 16 sec ago

Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
  • Khan also visited and prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah
  • Khan arrived in the Kingdom on Friday on a two-day official visit

JEDDAH: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah on Sunday.
Upon his arrival at the Grand Mosque, Khan was received by a number of officials of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the special force for the security of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Khan arrived in the Kingdom on Friday on a two-day official visit at the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Earlier on Sunday, Khan left Madinah headed for Jeddah, after he visited the Prophet’s Mosque and performed prayers there.
He was seen off from Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah by a number of senior, civilian and military officials.


Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions
Updated 35 min 17 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions
  • Kingdom will ensure the health and safety of pilgrims
  • Health authorities are continuing to assess conditions and take all measures to preserve human health

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Sunday it would announce operational plans for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage soon.
The ministry said the details would be determined by COVID-19 health controls and standards.
The Kingdom will ensure the health and safety of pilgrims and enable them to perform their rituals “easily and in a safe environment,” the ministry said.
The decision is “based on the Kingdom’s constant keenness to enable the guests and visitors of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah,” the statement said, adding “the Kingdom puts human health and safety first.”
The ministry said that Saudi health authorities are continuing to assess conditions and take all measures to ensure the preservation of human health.


Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday
  • Supreme Court calls on all Muslims across the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has called on all Muslims across the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal on Tuesday evening. 

The court said if the moon is seen with the eye on Tuesday May 11, which corresponds to Ramadan 29, 1442 H, the committee will announce the end of fasting month and the start of Eid Al Fitr.

The Supreme Court called on whoever sights the crescent by naked eyes or through binoculars to report to the nearest court and register their testimony, or report to authorities in their area.


Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait
Updated 09 May 2021

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait
  • The coalition said it is taking operational measures to deal with sources of threat to protect civilians and civilian objects
  • The coalition confirmed that the Houthis’ attempt to target civilians was a serious violation of international law

DUBAI: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait, state news agency SPA reported.
The coalition said it is taking operational measures to deal with sources of threat to protect civilians and civilian objects.

The coalition also confirmed that the Houthis’ attempt to target civilians was a serious violation of international law.

The Iran-backed militia has been intensifying attacks against Saudi Arabia, targeting key oil facilities and civilians amid international and Arab condemnation in support of the Kingdom’s security.