The so-called al-Hamra cube was discovered in the al-Hamra Temple at Tayma, an important trading city in northwestern Arabia. Its fine decoration confirms the integration of Egyptian and Mesopotamian motifs into local religious practices, such as the worship of the local god Salm. The bull with a solar disk between its horns relates to the Egyptian bull deity Apis, while the winged disk was inspired by Mesopotamian and Iranian examples.More Info
Many of the incense routes to Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Mediterranean region passed through northwestern Arabia. One of several stations along the route was Tayma, the most ancient oasis in Arabia. Tayma's wealth and reputation was such that in the sixth century BCE, the Babylonian king Nabonidus stayed there for ten years.
Situated in the lush oasis of al-Ula, Dedan provided shelter and sustenance for caravans from the sixth to the first century BCE. Even verses in the Old Testament praise its fresh waters. The Lihyanites, who ruled the area during this period, developed a complex and original artistic tradition, including impressive monumental sculptures that are seen for the first time in this exhibition.
In the first century BCE, the Lihyanites lost power to the Nabataeans, whose kingdom centered on Petra in southern Jordan. The Nabataeans actively participated in the incense trade and made their fortune by controlling trade with the Roman Empire. Like Petra, Mada’in Saleh in northwestern Arabia features many tombs that are carved into the surrounding sandstone cliffs, creating a spectacular vista in the desert.