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Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Lost World: Al-Hijr / Madain Saleh From More than 2,000 Years Ago -3

It lies 320 kilometres (200 miles) north of Medina, the Islamic holy city of western Saudi Arabia, and extends for some 15 square kilometres (six sq miles). According to UNESCO, it includes 111 tombs, most of which boast a decorated facade, cave drawings and even some pre-Nabataean inscriptions.

It also boasts intricately designed water wells that serve as a prime example of the Nabataeans' architectural and hydraulic genius. The Nabataeans first inhabited the area in the second century BC, but their ancient civilisation existed as far back as the eighth or seventh century BC in the countries of the Levant, including Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and at times even extending into the Sinai peninsula in Egypt.

Originally nomads from the Arabian peninsula, the Nabataeans were masters of trade, dominating the incense and spice routes in the pre-Islamic period. Their civilisation collapsed in 106 AD at the hands of the Roman empire.

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