Dumat Al-Jandal, Al-Jawf, Saudi Arabia

Dumat Al-Jandal is an ancient city of ruins located in northwestern Saudi Arabia in Al-Jawf Province, 37 km away from Sakakah, the capital of the province, and about 350 km northwest of Ha'il. The name "Dumat Al-Jandal" which means "Dawma of the Stone" comes from the local belief that the town was first settled by Dumah, the 6th out of the 12 sons of prophet Ishmael and the grandson of prophet Abraham (pbut), who was mentioned in The Bible, Genesis (25:14). Yet archeologists have found abundant evidence that long before Ishmael's time, believed to be the early 2nd millennium BC.

The city has a recorded history dating back to the 10th century BC and is mentioned in the Akkadian inscriptions of the Assyrian empire dating to 845 BC in which it is referred to as Adummatu and is described as the capital of an Arab kingdom, sometimes named as Qedar (or Kedar which is the name of the 2nd son of Ishmael). The names of five powerful Arab queens that ruled this city are known, among them Zabibe, Samsi, Tabua and Te'elhunu. The latter is also given the title of high priestess of Atarsamain, a deity of fertility, love and war associated with Ishtar. Dumat Al-Jandal was the site of an important temple dedicated to Ishtar.

Recent excavations in the area revealed a homogenous layer of Roman-Nabataean pottery sherds indicating a prosperous community during the time of the Nabataeans to whom this realm of the region probably belonged. In 106, Dumatha was incorporated into the Roman Empire when the Emperor Trajan defeated the Nabataeans. It remained integral to the Limes Arabicus for over 4 centuries, serving as the easternmost settlement along the limes.

In 269, the place was mentioned by Zenobia, the Queen of Palmyra, as city with an immune fortress. After her forces had captured the city, the fortress of Marid withstood the attack in her revolt against the Romans. Later in the 5th century, the city became the capital of the kingdom of Kindah. In 633, Khalid ibn Al-Walid captured Dumat Al-Jandal and it became a part of the newly formed Islamic empire.

Marid Fortress

Marid Fortress or Qasr Marid is a huge structure built of rough stone and mortar construction technique commanding the ancient city of Adummatu. Queen Zenobia tried to capture the city in the 3rd century. When she left the fortress without capturing it, she said her famous saying "Tamarrod Marid", which means "Marid renounce allegiance to me". Its walls are 80 to 100 cm thick and it has four slender corner towers. Two types of construction techniques can be found in the fortress: one ancient with fine cut stone walling, corbelling and use of stone lintels and the other by the use of mud-brick superstructure. Even though the fortress was occupied in recent times, archaeological study shows that the foundations of Qasr Marid goes back to the period of Nabataens in the 1st century AD.

Omar ibn Al-Khattab Mosque

According to local tradition, the 2nd caliph, Omar ibn Al-Khattab, passed through Dumat Al-Jandal in 638 on his way from Madinah to Jerusalem. During his brief stay in the city, he authorized the construction of a mud-brick mosque that today is among the area's most prized sites. The exact date of the mosque is not beyond dispute, but it is one of the oldest intact mosques in the Islamic world. The minaret is unique with its square shape, tapered sides and windows at each story, and the arch that allows a street to pass through its base, do not conform to any known style.

The north (qibla) wall of the mosque faces Qasr Marid across a street. On its other three sides, it is surrounded by dense urban fabric. The mosque is composed of a courtyard preceding the main prayer hall to the south and another space, also used for prayer, to the north. The main prayer hall is formed by three rows of stone pillars, running parallel to the qibla wall. The pillars are all by wooden lintels, which in turn support layers of stone that are roofed by mud-plastered acacia and palm trunks. The minaret is at the southwestern corner of the prayer hall bridging over a street.

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