Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Chiseled wall (rough finish)

Chiseled wall (fine finish)

Chiseled roof corner

Wall shelves

Wall shelves

Thamud was a famous Arab tribe living between Hijaz and Tabuk named after their forefather Thamud the brother of Jadis. Both are sons of Athir bin Iram bin Shem bin Noah the Prophet. Thamud tribe came into existence after the natural devastation that must have been annihilated the ‘Ad’ tribe. It is known from the Holy Quran that Ad tribe have suffered continued rain, cold wind and thunders for seven nights and eight days that spelled doom to their existence on earth. In fact the Ad and Thamud stories are well known to the followers of Moses, Jesus and among Muslims.

Thamuds have built palaces and castles on the plains of the earth and particularly had the great skills of hewing the houses out of mountains. The art of hewing the houses from the mountains and hills is certainly stands even today and proved to be a great skill that benefits numerous generations to come. Hewing the mountains guaranteed a safe shelter to Thamuds since their average life span is more than four hundred years. They must have frequently experienced damages to their mud houses and tents often in their own life time and prompted to try and learn the hewing of mountains. The inspiration of hewing the mountains certainly stands as a monumental creative thinking of Thamuds and is yet another example of human competence under duress. Their mastery in carving the mountains again shows that this tribe must have enjoyed unperturbed lifestyle and considerable freedom. Life in harmony with nature always helps the humans to evolve with noble principles to benefit all humans and the existence of Madaen Saleh is yet another proof in regard to the civilization. It is amazing to see the walls (as shown in above pictures) and roofs that are beautifully carved with stone tools. The carved surfaces remind us a perfect interior paint design of heritage in our modern houses. I was able to distinguish the works of craftsmanship in different chiseled walls having some variation in carved effects as some of the walls and roofs are extremely tidy with uniformed chisel works.

Some of the interior walls are having beautifully carved shelves to keep provisions or utensils (see above pictures). The interesting observation is that the home style of Thamuds or the early generation does not differ much from present generation in some part of the world, especially in Asia and Africa.

The interior arrangement and neatness clearly shows that there exists a wonderful lifestyle and were well settled in their life. Further it denotes that their life must have been largely pleasant enough to concentrate on improving the lifestyle. The history mentioned in Holy Quran does not include any references or information related to war or skirmishes with fellow dwellers in the region. Therefore, it may be safe to conclude that they were largely having comfortable life.

There were few trenches at inside the home suggests that this could have been used as resting place for older or dying people. Thamuds are seems to be well built in their physique and having the average height of 7 feets as most of the trenches are having similar length and width. In many houses, the trenches are suitable enough for a single man or woman to lay down with required air circulation. In few houses, we observed wide trenches like basement rooms. It was not clear whether it was carved or extended by Thamuds or the following occupants.

The region has acquired tremendous importance and gained significant position in trade, culture, arts and political route to successive kingdoms and becomes an integral part of the world history. The relevance of Madaen Saleh became more interesting due to the Nabataens who have further utilized these hewed houses for considerable period. However, before we scrutiny the history of Nabataeans , it is worth to read the penultimate last period of Thamuds that is highly significant in Islam and to some extend in other religions originated from Middle East. Although Thamuds’ stories are not clearly or well documented in Jewish and Christian holy books, but Holy Quran exponents the examples.

(To be continued)

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