Madain Saleh and its romantic ruins are in the northeast quadrant of Saudi Arabia in Al-Madinah province. They are the largest ruins from the Nabataean Kingdom after Petra. Much of Madain Saleh Saudi Arabia remains date from the early 1st Century AD. We know the Nabataeans were Arab Nomads who urbanised at the turn of the millennium. They were a tough lot. Their primary defence was melting into the desert, and waiting for their enemies to die of thirst and starvation.
Madain Saleh Saudi Arabia in the Desert
The rock-cut settlement flourished in the early 1st Century AD, when the Nabataeans found a perfect medium to practice their sculpting skills on natural rocky outcrops. They established a foothold for their survival by carving wells and rainwater tanks out of solid rock. Then, they could grow their food and raise their livestock using traditional oasis agriculture methods.
Water was, is, and will always be a precious commodity in the Saudi Arabia Desert. In time, ‘all roads’ led to and from Madain Saleh. They thus commanded the trade in precious incense, myrrh, and spices. In time, the stone city became the main staging post on the long, north-south trade route through the desert. This was where camel caravans rested, and filled their water bags for the next leg of their dusty journey.
How the Ancient City Declined, and Faded Away
Madain Saleh Saudi Arabia entered a period of decline after it fell to the Romans in 104 AD. The trade routes melted away to a new, maritime route through the Red Sea. Finally, the defeated Nabataeans moved away completely, leaving their enigmatic carvings, chambers, and tunnels as the only signs they were ever there. It is a shame we know so little about these mysterious desert people.