Tayma Oasis, SAUDI ARABIA
- Keywords: Saudi Arabia, Cultural Landscape, Oasis, Tayma, Qasr Al-Ablaq castle, Qasr Al-Radha, Haddaj Well, Cemeteries, Aramaic, Lihyanite, Thamudic, Nabataean language inscriptions, stele, Qasr Al-Bejaidi, Al-Hadiqah Mound.
1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES
1.1 National and International Classification Lists
Tayma Oasis is not in any list.
1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology
Organically evolved landscapesRelict (or fossil) landscape
1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med
Tayma is a large oasis with a long history of settlement, located in northwestern Saudi Arabia at the point where the trade route between Yathrib (Medina) and Dumah (al-Jawf) begins to cross the Nefud desert. In general, oases are considered by UNESCO and Med-O-Med as sample of the human genius in action. Skills, and particularly traditional know-how in coping with a hostile environment that is scarce in resources, appeared in the development of techniques enabling water (and land) to be used more judiciously, whether available permanently or cyclically. Basis on the UNESCO definition of Cultural Landscape (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008), considering this region as a result of “the combined works of nature and of man”, Med-O-Med resolve to value this site as a Cultural Landscape because of: -Its Natural Heritage Components: North of the settlement is a large dry lake (sebkha), occupied by a lake some ten thousand years ago. The characteristic environment of the oasis is best represented by the Bir Hadaj well of some 18 m diameter in the city centre and extended palm gardens. -Its Cultural Heritage Components: The rapidly growing modern settlement presently covers about one third of ancient Tayma, which has an estimated area of some 950 ha. Tayma has an archaeologically significant perimeter wall built around 3 sides of the old city in the 6th century BCE.The mains points of interest in the ancient Tayma are: Qasr Al-Ablaq castle is located on the southwest side of the city (7th century BCE), Qasr Al-Radha, Haddaj Well, Cemeteries, many Aramaic, Lihyanite, Thamudic, Nabataean language inscriptions (as the Stele found in 1884, with dedicatory Aramaic inscription to the god Salm (5th century BC), which is now in the Louvre), Qasr Al-Bejaidi, Al-Hadiqah Mound…
2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY
- Current denomination Tayma (Arabic: تيماء).
- Current denomination Tayma (Arabic: تيماء).
- Original denomination Tayma (Arabic: تيماء).
- Popular denomination Tayma (Arabic: تيماء).
- Address: Tayma is located 264 km southeast of the city of Tabouk, and about 400 km north of Medina.
- Geographical coordinates: 27°37′47″N 38°32′38″E 830 m above sea level.
- Area, boundaries and surroundings: It is located in the North-West of the Arabian Peninsula, an area which is characterised by its arid climate.Tayma is situated in a flat basin and is surrounded by several mountainous heights, such as the Jabal Ghunaym. North of the settlement is a large dry lake (sebkha), occupied by a lake some ten thousand years ago. The ancient Tayma has an estimated area of some 950 ha.
Many museums. Although Tayma has museums of its own such as the “Tayma Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography”, many artifacts from its history have been spread to other museums. Early finds such as the “Tayma Stele” are at the Louvre in Paris among others while large museums of national importance in Saudi Arabia, such as the National Museum of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh and the Jeddah Regional Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography also have significant collections of items from or related to ancien
3. LEGAL ISSUES
- Owner: Saudi Arabian Government.
- Body responsible for the maintenance: Saudi Arabian Government.
- Public or private organizations working in the site: The Archaeology of the Oasis Tayma: Continuity and Change of Subsistence in the arid north-western region of the Arabian Peninsula from the Neolithic to Islamic periods is a joint-project of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Riyadh, and the German Archaeological Institute, Berlin. The long-term project is funded by the German Research Foundation. Regular seasons of excavation have been conducted since 2004.
Latest archaeological and palaeoenvironmental research indicate occupation by a sedentary population as early as the 4th millennium BC. Remains of a flinstone industry for the production of beads go back to that period. An urban style is expressed by the impressive mudbrick walls of the outer fortification, which, according to scientific dating methods (OSL, 14C), may be dated as early as the 3rd millennium BC. Whereas the late Early Bronze Age / Early Middle Bronze Age is represented by metal weapons (excavated by a Saudi expedition in 2003), continuous occupation is attested from the early Iron Age onwards. At this time, there were apparently intense contacts between Tayma, Egypt and the Levant. These new results have fundamentally changed the perspective on Tayma as a place which had been understood mainly as a place of the 1st millennium BC. -Trade and politics: The written sources from Tayma and its surroundings are characterised by early North-West Arabian Taymanitic (Thamudic) and Aramaic texts, concentrating on the 1st millennium BC. Nevertheless, until now the historical image of Tayma was mainly shaped by foreign sources. Assyrian texts of the 9th century BC mention Arab tribes. The place name of Tayma is mentioned in the early 8th century BC text from the Middle Euphrates before being mentioned in the context of tribute to be delivered to the Assyrian king Tiglathpileser III. Further on, Tayma is mentioned as a trading post, also in the Biblical sources. In spite of new cuneiform texts from the oasis itself and of the known sources of the Achaemenid period the type of connections between Tayma and the larger political units of the Late Babylonian and Achaemenid periods is little known. -Regional history: Kings of the Liyhanite dynasty of Dedan deposited inscriptions in one of the temples of Tayma and erected statues. At the same time, the size of the settlement was reduced, probably a sign for the shifting of power in the region. Tayma becomes part of the Nabataean sphere, less clear is the impact by the Roman-Byzantine empire. Although the poet Imru’ al-Qays (d. 540 AD) says that the rain-storm “does not leave a palm-tree in Tayma nor a house unless it is built of stone”, the city played an important role in the expansion of Islam towards the Levant. Before, an important Jewish community lived at Tayma. As late as the 11th century, according to the historian al-Bakri, Tayma was known as a wealthy place with a large city wall.
5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION
5.1. Natural heritage
- Heritage: Archaeological
- Geography: Wetland
- Site topography: Natural
- Climate and environmental conditions: The region is characterised by its arid climate.
- Geological and Geographical characteristics: Cores from a large palaeolake, botanical macroremains out of archaeological features and surveys of the actual vegetation in combination with pollen surface samples provide excellent records for the reconstruction of the Holocene development of vegetation, land use and oasis cultivation in the Tayma region in north-western Saudi-Arabia. The preliminary pollen data suggest a moderately denser vegetation cover during early and mid Holocene. However, fluctuating but high frequencies of desert vegetation throughout the sequence show the persistence of desert ecosystems in the Tayma region and confirm that stable agricultural practices always depended on irrigation. Vine pollen indicates a start of oasis cultivation at least at the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. Whether the less pronounced, but perhaps economically significant change in vegetation during this period was the main trigger for oasis cultivation or only one among several reasons has to be decided after further investigations.
Land uses and economical activities:Tourism. Agriculture.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:Palm groves and other crops.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:
The characteristic environment of the oasis is best represented by the Bir Hadaj well of some 18 m diameter in the city centre and extended palm gardens. The rapidly growing modern settlement presently covers about one third of ancient Tayma, which has an estimated area of some 950 ha. Tayma has an archaeologically significant perimeter wall built around 3 sides of the old city in the 6th century BCE.The mains points of interest in the ancient Tayma are: Qasr Al-Ablaq castle is located on the southwest side of the city (7th century BCE), Qasr Al-Radha, Haddaj Well, Cemeteries, many Aramaic, Lihyanite, Thamudic, Nabataean language inscriptions (as the Stele found in 1884, with dedicatory Aramaic inscription to the god Salm (5th century BC), which is now in the Louvre), Qasr Al-Bejaidi, Al-Hadiqah Mound…
5.2. Cultural Heritage
A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general
Art pieces, artesany, furniture and other elements:
The famous Tayma stones, inscribed in the Aramaic of two millenia or longer ago, are now in the Louvre, but thousands of other inscriptions of pre-Islamic Thamudic script have been found in the area and are stored in the city museum.
In the case of gardens: original and current style:It is not the case.
Man-made elements related to water management:
B) Related to ancient remains
- Archaeological components:
Six occupational periods from Neolithic to Modern have been identified at a number of locations: -Occupational Period 6 (Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age): Margins of the sebkha. -Occupational Period 5 (Middle to Late Bronze Age): Outer wall. -Occupational Period 4 (Early Iron Age, 12th to 9th century BC): At the outer wall and between outer and inner walls. -Occupational Period 3 (Middle to Late Iron Age and the period of the Lihyanite dynasty at Tayma until Late Antiquity/Pre-Islamic period: Settlement remains in the central part of the site, at the outer wall and cemeteries at Tal’a, temple and public buildings farther North-West, residential area. -Occupational Period 2 (Islamic): Small farmsteads and large scale architecture. -Occupational Period 1 (Modern): Remains of temporary camps on the site. Details: -Earliest Remains (Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Early Bronze Age: Occupational Period 6) Extensive wast dumps of a stone tool industry and carnelian beads have been found at the eastern margings of the sebkha. They can be dated either to the Chalcolithic ort he Early Bronze Age. The original location of the production site remains presently unknown, but may have been in the vicinity. Countless numbers of these objects have been transferred to the central part of the settlement, when mud from the sebkha was used for the production of the bricks of the outer city wall. -Middle and Late Bronze Ages (Occupational Period 5) The discovery of a fenestrated axe and a ribbed dagger at Sana’iye by M. al-Hajjari in 2003 provided first evidence of the presence of artefacts at Tayma which can be connected to Egypt and the Levant. However, these objects were found in secondary deposition. Late Babylonian stele © DAILate Babylonian stele © DAIWhereas scientific dating (OSL) of the sand dunes accumulated at the outer city wall indicate a construction of the wall as early as the 3rd millennium BC, a 14C dating result of organic remains from mudbricks of that wall provides an 18th century BC date, from which a construction of the wall during or after the Middle Bronze Age can be deduced (the walls of Tayma have been investigated by a project of the Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus and the Architectural Department at the Head Office of the DAI, founded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation between 2005 and 2008). At Tayma the presence of Qurayyah Painted Ware (a Late Bronze Age pottery style known from Northwest Arabia, the Southern Levant and Sinai) in secondary contexts, indicates the presence of occupational remains of this period at Tayma. Remains of it may have been found at the outer city wall . A tower at the northwestern branch of the outer city wall ) may have been built and used during the Late Bronze Age as well. -Early Iron Age (Occupational Period 4) At the southwestern periphery of the settlement remains of a public building (probably a temple) built on natural bedrock have been excavated, surrounded by a massive 35 x 38 m enclosure wall. Objects recovered from this building show close connections to Egypt, the Levant and Syria: Egyptian gods/goddesses and scarabs made of fayence, fayence vessels with the representation of lotos flowers, mask pendants of fayence, reed baskets, wooden boxes, inlays of bone and wood, ‘tokens’ made of ivory (gaming pieces?). The pertaining pottery decorated with bichrome representations of birds framed by geometric motifs and of hundreds of unpainted small beakers, probably used for consumption during ritual ceremonies. The building was equipped with its own water supply and a cistern. The entire building was destroyed by fire. 14C dates of seasonal plants provide a 12th to 9th century BC date for the use-life of the building. Contemporary (14C) building remains were excavated at the outer wall, where a small building had been erected on top of the accumulated sand dunes. -Middle to Late Iron Age (Occupational Period 3/1) Middle Iron Age pottery has been identified within a sequence. Bowls and jars with formal affinities to Syro-Mesopotamian and Levantine pottery have been observed. Several sherds of this period have been observed at other places of the site in secondary deposition. Probably of the same date are the cemeteries of Tal’a and Sana’iye (Industrial Site), which are characterised by the presence of a further painted pottery style (Sana’iye pottery). Circular or rectangular grave buildings / chambers have been built on natural bedrock in clusters and contain multiple burials. 14C dates from Tal’a indicate a maximum duration from the 9th to 5th century BC of the occupation of the cemetery. In the settlement, the painted pottery was only discovered in filling layers or in deposits on the bedrock, probably indicating a complete removal of pertaining building remains before a reorganisation of the central part of the site took place. An arched stele which was found in the debris east of the temple in Area E (see below) shows a standing royal figure and three astral divine symbols, identifying the object, together with the preserved cuneiform text, as work of the last Babylonian king Nabonidus (556-539 BC). This king lived for ten years at Tayma. A disc-shaped object, probably the base of the same stele, mentions for the first time the king’s name in cuneiform at Tayma. The presence of these monumental inscriptions may point to the existence of settlement remains of that period, but none of them have been clearly identified so far. Remains may have been encountered at the northeastern part of the central part of the settlement (beneath temple E-b1 and east of it), where massive walls and an extended building with large stone blocks have been discovered. The most prominent artefact of the Achaemenid period at Tayma is the so-called Tayma Stone, probably to be dated to the early 4th century BC. The majority of the imagery of Tayma has been dated to this period (5th/4th century BC). -The Lihyanite dynasty, the Nabataeans and Late Antiquity (Occupational Period 3/2) Probably starting with the 4th century BC there are indications for the presence of the Lihyanite dynasty of Dedan at Tayma. At various locations of the site, Aramaic royal inscriptions and fragments of monumental statues attest that Tayma may have been under control of this dynasty for several generations. To this period the construction of a temple building at the northeastern part of the central mound can be attributed. The building could be accessed through a pair of monumental stairs and a platform leading into a columned hall. In front of the temple there were numerous large basins installed. The interior walls of the building were once coated with white plaster bearing coloured decoration. The floor consisted of large flagstones. A subterranean tunnel connected the temple with a well. Inscriptions and fragmentary statues of Lihyanite rulers were reused as building materials during the Late Antique period. There are two pillars with inscriptions of years 30 and 40 of king TLMY. Inscriptions of years 4 and 20 of the same king are attested as well. Most probably this king can be identified with a TLMY of the Lihyanite king list who reigned for 44 years. A further inscription attests the existence of a governor of Tayma at the time of a king LWDN, who was responsible for construction work at the (already existing) city wall. The findspot of this inscription next to the inner city wall, thus, indicates the earliest possible construction date of this wall, indicating at the same time that the city area had been considerably reduced. During the time of the Lihyanite dynasty, outside of this wall there was a graveyard with single and multiple burials, cut into the bedrock and covering the Early Iron Age complex. At the same time, south of the temple a large residential area had developed which was occupied until the Nabataean and Late Antique periods. A number of distinctive building levels have been identified, and the most significant changes have been registered between Building Levels F:3 and F:2. In addition to Nabataean inscriptions on pottery jars, an inscription mentioning the Nabataean king Aretas IV was recovered from the temple. Architectural decorative elements, such as a horned capital, a massive sandstone jar application and a triglyph show close similarities to the tomb facades at Mada’in Salih. Probably during the later part of the Nabataean period a 500 m long ditch (12 m wide and up to 6 m deep) was dug at the outer side of the inner city wall. The excavated material was used for filling the restored inner wall which was conceived as a two-shells construction. During Late Antiquity, the entire northern part of the central site was enclosed by a further wall, delimitating an extended 2 ha complex of public buildings to Southwest which can be dated to the same period. -Building remains of the Islamic period (Occupational period 2) Between outer and inner walls a large square shaped building with rooms in its southern corners has been identified (extending over 2,500 square meters), which belongs most probably to the early Islamic period. At this time a number of small farmsteads had been erected inside of the inner wall (from the 8th century onwards). On the opposite side of the wadi crossing the ancient site of Tayma remains of public buildings have been excavated. They were occupied during the 9th/10th centuries and subsequently abandoned. Palaeoenvironment Several transects of core drillings have been laid over the sebkha for reconstructing the sequence of deposits. Most significant for the beginning of settlement at the oasis was the existence of an ancient lake as early as the 9th millennium BC which, from the 5th millennium BC onwards dryed as a result of Late Holocene climatic changes in the region. Pollen remains from the drill-cores indicate the presence of cultivated plants. These remains will be analysed from 2011 onwards in the framework of a project by the Free University of Berlin and the Scientific Department at the Head Office of the DAI studying archaeobotanic remains and the recent vegetation of Tayma, founded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. Hydrological investigations by the University of Applied Science Lübeck (funded by the DFG) illustrated that the water supply of the oasis was based mainly on groundwater drawn from various wells and a spring-lake, the latter identified within the inner wall. Within the walled settlement, traces of an extended agricultural irrigation system with channels have been identified.
- Historical routes:
Tayma is a large oasis with a long history of settlement, located in northwestern Saudi Arabia at the point where the trade route between Yathrib (Medina) and Dumah (al-Jawf) begins to cross the Nefud desert.
- Traces in the environment of human activity: Archaeological remains. Agriculture.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values
- Languages and dialects: Arabic
Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:Conservation and restoration: In addition to the expanding modern settlement environmental conditions contribute considerably to erosion and damage of the ancient remains of Tayma. Archaeologists, conservators and architects have jointly developed strategies for the implementation of an integrated conservation concept, including monitoring of existing conservation measures. For consolidation measures of building remains a mortar made of modified loam based exclusively on locally available materials and free of any chemical additives has been developed. Since 2010 a training programme in building conservation for local specialists from Tayma has been launched by the DAI.
Quality of the night sky, light pollution and possibility to observe the stars:Oases are privileged sites to breath in silence, to find ourselves and to observe the pure beauty of nature, including the stars that are brighting in the night sky, free of light pollution.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:
-Tayma oasis. -The palm groves and the water wells. -The natural environment and the paleolake. -All the archaeological remains.
Authenticity:Six occupational periods from Neolithic to Modern have been identified at Tayma.
Universality:Med-O-Med describes the universality of the site according to the UNESCO criteria defined for Cultural Landscapes: iii) Tayma bears an exceptional testimony to the cultural tradition linked to the area. iv) The site is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history: from Neolithic to Modern periods. v) Tayma oasis is a sample of a traditional human settlement and land-use, which is representative of its culture, and the human interaction with the environment. It is represented in the way of farming and the irrigation system. vii) The natural area contained in this Cultural Landscape are of natural beauty and aesthetic importance. ix) The paleolake is an outstanding example representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:-The agricultural style of the palm groves and other crops of the oases and the irrigation system. -There are also ancient remains of the Islamic period in Tayma.
Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):
Tayma Oasis Cultural Landscape is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Morocco which is included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.
http://whc.unesco.org/venice2002 http://global.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/584926/Tayma http://www.dainst.org/en/project/tayma?ft=all http://nabataea.net/tayma.html http://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=4268581 http://www.historiayarqueologia.com/profiles/blogs/arqueologos-saudies-descubren -Abu Duruk, H.I. (1986). Introduction to the Archaeology of Tayma. Riyadh. Bawden, G., Edens, C., 22. -Al-Ansary, A., Abu al-Hasan, H. (2002). Tayma. Crossroads of Civilizations. Riyadh. Buhl, F., Bosworth, C.E. 1999: s.v. Tayma’. Encyclopedia of Islam (2nd edition), 430-431. Leiden. -Al-Ansary, A.R., Abu al-Hassan, H. (2004). Die alten Kulturen von al-‘Ula und Mada’in Salih. Bedeutende Städte an der Weihrauchstraße, Bd. 1, Riyadh. Euting, J. 1896-1914. Tagebuch einer Reise in Inner-Arabien. Leiden. -Al-Ghazzi, A. (2000). Dating and ascertaining the origin of the painted al-Ula pottery. ATLAL 15: 179-190. -Bawden, G. (1981). Recent Radiocarbon Dates from Tayma. ATLAL 5: 149-153. -Bawden, G., Edens, C. (1989). History of Tayma’ and Hejazi trade during the first millennium B.C. JESHO 32: 48-103. -Briquel-Chatonnet, F., Robin, C. (1997). Objets d’Arabie Nord-Ouest (autres objets d’Arabie), no. 199-204. In: Calvet, Y., Robin, C. eds., Arabie heureuse – arabie deserte. Les antiquités arabiques du Musée du Louvre. Paris: 260-264. -Dinies, M. et al. (2011). Holocene vegetational development and the beginning of oasis cultivation in Tayma, North-Western Saudi Arabiafirst results. Localización: Polen, ISSN 1135-8408, Nº. 21, 2011 , págs. 9-14 -Eichmann, R., Hausleiter, A., Götzelt, T. (2007) Once upon a time at the incense road. German research 2/2007, 4-9. -Farès-Drappeau, S. (2005). Dédan et Lihyan, Histoire des Arabes aux confins des pouvoirs perse et hellénistique (IV-II avant l’ère chrétienne), Lyon. -Hayajneh, H. (2001). First evidence of Nabonidus in the Ancient North Arabian inscriptions from the region of Tayma’. PSAS 31: 81-95. -Jaussen, J.A., Savignac, R. (1909-22). Mission archéologique en Arabie. Paris (Reprint 1997). -Macdonald, M.A. (1997). Trade routes and trade goods at the northern end of the ‘Incense Road’ in the first millennium B.C. In: Avanzini, A. ed., Profumi d’Arabia. Atti del Convegno. Rom: 333-349. -Parr, P.J., Harding, G.L., Dayton, J.E. (1972). Preliminary survey in Northwest Arabia. BIA 10: 23-62. -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara, Italy.
Practical Information:General Commission for Tourism and Antiquities Section for Antiquities and Museums P.O. Box 66680 Riyadh 11586 Saudi-Arabia Phone: +966-1-8808855 Telefax: +966-1-8808844 Sponsorship The project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn, (DFG) and supported by the Orient Department of the German Archaeological Institute. The Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of Tayma offers logistic and technical support as does the Antiquities department at Tabuk. The sub-project on hydrology and water management of the Unversity of Applied Sciences, Lübeck is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn, (DFG). The sub-project on the city wall of the Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus (BTU) and the Architectural Department of the German Archaeological Institute has been funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung between 2006 and 2008 and is currently being supported by the German Archaeological Institute. Scientific analysis of the pottery is supported by the Università degli Studi Padova. The company Hansa Luftbild, Riyadh, offers logistical assistance and equipment.
Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.