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Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, to open for public after 2,000 years

www.indiatoday.in • December 6, 2020

In a bid to promote historical sites, now, Saudi Arabia will open the ancient archaeological site — Hegra — for the public. Hegra, undisturbed for almost 2,000 years, is the kingdom's first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Nabateans, an ancient Arab people who inhabited northern Arabia and the southern Levant, had built this lesser-known sister city of Petra in Jordan. They had created a huge empire in the desert from the 4th century BC to the 1st century AD when Emperor Trajan conquered them and they became subjects of the Romans. These nomads controlled the spice trade, and later they built an astonishing civilisation in the desert.

Petra was rediscovered in the 19th century, however, the earliest historic location in the kingdom — Hegra — was left forgotten by all but the Bedouin until recent decades. But all that remains now of the city they built is some rock-cut tombs and relics. Over 90 of the total 111 tombs recorded at the location are decorated. Many of the tombs have inscriptions, written in an early form of Arabic that "warn the living not to interfere with the tombs", according to a report. One inscription reads, "May the lord of the world curse upon anyone who disturbs this tomb or opens." The site also features some 50 inscriptions of the pre-Nabataean period and some cave drawings.

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