Hegra Archaeological Site (al-Hijr / Madā ͐ in Ṣāliḥ) - World Cultural Heritage in Saudi Arabia

The Hegra Archaeological Site (al-Hijr/Madā ͐ in Ṣāliḥ) was the first recognized World Heritage Site in Saudi Arabia. Formerly known as Hegra, it is the largest preserved site of the Nabataean civilization south of Petra in Jordan. It features well-preserved massive tombs with decorated facades dating from the first century BC to the first century AD. The site also has about fifty pre-Nabataean inscriptions and some rock drawings. Al-Hijr is a unique testimony to the Nabataean civilization. With 111 monumental tombs, 94 of which are decorated and equipped with wells, the site is an exceptional example of the architectural prowess and hydraulic know-how of the Nabataeans.

Year of accreditation: 2008
Criteria: (ii)(iii)
Area: 1,621.2 ha
Buffer zone: 1,659.34 ha

Outstanding Overall Value

The archaeological site of Al-Hijr was a major site of the Nabataean civilization, south of its sphere of influence. Its integrity is remarkable and it is well preserved. It consists of a vast set of mausoleums and monuments, whose architecture and decorations are carved directly into the sandstone.

It sees the meeting of many decorative and architectural influences (Assyrian, Egyptian, Phoenician, Hellenistic), and the presence of several ancient languages ​​(Lihyanite, Thamudic, Nabataean, Greek, Latin).

It saw the development of Nabataean agricultural techniques using a large number of man-made wells on rocky ground. Wells are still in use.

The ancient city of Hegra/Al-Hijr witnessed the international travel trade of late antiquity.

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Criterion (ii): The site of Al-Hijr was located at the meeting point of various civilizations of Antiquity, on the trade route between the Arabian Peninsula, the Mediterranean world and Asia. It is an exceptional witness to the important cultural exchange of architecture, decoration, the use of languages ​​and the caravan trade. Although the Nabataean city was abandoned in pre-Islamic times, the road continued to play an international role for later caravans and pilgrimages to Mecca, until it was modernized with the construction of the railway at the beginning of the 20th century.

Criterion (iii): The site of Al-Hijr is a unique testimony to the Nabataean civilization, between the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC and the pre-Islamic period, in particular the 1st century AD. . It is a remarkable illustration of the architectural style typical of the Nabataeans, made up of monuments carved out of the rock and whose facades bear numerous decorative motifs. The site consists of a set of wells, most of which are immersed in rock, demonstrating the Nabataeans’ mastery of hydraulic engineering for agricultural purposes.

The evidence presented by Al-Hijr for the Nabataean civilization has exceptional integrity and authenticity, as it was abandoned very early and enjoyed favorable climatic conditions for a very long time.

The State Party has started to establish a very comprehensive Local Management Unit and the process is currently underway. The published management plan will allow adequate protection of the assets. With this in mind, the developer should organize systematic monitoring of the conservation of the monument and prepare a project to present the outstanding universal value of the site for the benefit of visitors and inhabitants of the region.

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Map of the archaeological site of Hegra (al-Hijr / Madā in Ṣāliḥ)

Video of the archaeological site of Hegra (al-Hijr / Madā in Ṣāliḥ)