Saudi’s 6th World Heritage Site: Ḥimā Cultural Area
At the western boundary of the Empty Quarter, 80 kilometers north of Najran city lies the ancient Ḥimā Cultural Area which was recently inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites – a list enumerating significant historical sites from different cultures around the world – marking Saudi’s 6th site to be featured on the list.
This prehistoric desert location was once a center for incense caravan routes connecting the Levant, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Yemen and Mesopotamia – peaking as a trade hub between the years 800 BCE and 600 CE. It’s also ripe with archaeological treasures such as cairns, stone structures, tools, tombs and wells that are yet to be excavated.
In the Bir Ḥimā site surrounded by mountains and caverns, about seven wells can be found dating back at least 3000 years; they were central to human gatherings through the incense routes and are still producing fresh water today.
One of its most stunning features is the rock art left behind by travelers, merchants and army soldiers who passed through the region over thousands of years; depicting humans such as women in braids, Aliah figures, soldiers in battle scenes and cavalrymen armed with lances, scimitars, bows and arrows, swords and curved daggers (khanjar) mounting decorated horses presumed to be the Arabian breed.
Other petroglyphs portrayed animals including sheep, ostriches, camels, ibex, giraffes, horses and serpents; some of which bear a resemblance to the animals found in Egyptian art. Text inscriptions were also found around the area in a variety of languages from Aramaic-Nabataean, Arabic, Thamudic and Greek to the old south-Arabian script Musnad.
These carvings were made using pebble tools crafted out of quartzite, flint and andesite which were found around the area. They were believed to be inscribed with bronze.
Researcher Saleh Al Muraih of The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) says, “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.”
An enchanting tour experience, Ḥimā is akin to a museum where the art pieces are carved into nature. Make the best of your trip to this historical site with Sana Tourism, we guarantee a visit expertly designed so you don’t miss any of the magic! Get in touch now to start.