Lion Tombs of Dadan

The city of Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan kingdoms, is one of the most important discoveries in all of AlUla. The city was skillfully erected in the valley's oasis out of stone. Dadan was one of the most advanced cities in northern Arabia during the first millennium BCE due to its closeness to incense trade routes. Dadan was unavoidably exposed to other cultures due to his location on a key commercial route.

Dadan is a completely fortified city that was discovered buried beneath the sand, and influences from various cultures are seen in the statues, building art, and tombs. The mountain rising next to the walled city, Jabel Dadan, is where the Dadan tombs were discovered. Compared to Nabataean tombs, these are typically more compact and straightforward.

Typically, these tombs are square niches cut into the rock. They believed that if the dead were buried in the mountains, their spirits would travel to heaven more rapidly. This idea was also followed at that time by the Lycians, who lived in what is now modern-day Turkey. These tombs are proof of the 2600 years of human habitation in al-Ula, which was formerly known as Dadan.

Some of these tombs contain the deceased person's name etched at the base, but most have no identifying features. The exceptions are two tombs that are located south of Dadan city, 50 meters (164 feet) above the wadi. At the opening, a stylized lion is affixed to each of these two tombs. The two people entombed here must have been wealthy and powerful, as lions are a symbol of strength and power. However, the fact that only these two tombs have this emblem raises some odd questions. The Lihyanites, who lived in the oasis and established the mighty Kingdom of Dadan, carved these two graves, known as the al-Aswad Tombs, about the sixth century BCE.

How to explore Lion Tombs of Dadan?

- Today, getting to the Lion Tombs requires climbing fifty metres up stairs where the tombs were cut into the cliffs. Hiking up to these tombs is an adventure in itself.

- Take a local translator along to know more about the inscriptions on one of these two tombs. This suggests that it belonged to a person from the Dedan Minaic community, which descended from Ma'in in modern-day Yemen. The Minaic was Dadan's most significant trading partner, and they even had a sizable colony there. A kilometer or more separates these engravings from the main Dadanite excavation site.

- Learn more about the numerous personal and family tombs at the site, that is mostly plain burial chambers carved into the rock. A few of them have lion sculptures above them which means that they are personal tombs.

- The city has unique and adventurous trekking trails for you to explore.

- The three-kilometer-long heritage trail traverses through the historic district of Dadan before heading south to the Al Wadi region. While strolling along the trail, visitors can find a variety of sights to admire, with Old Town standing out as the most notable. The old town is made up of thousands of historic buildings that show how people lived back then. The trail is perfect for individuals who enjoy the outdoors because it has a variety of plants to discover.

  • imageDuration Required
    4 hours

Address of Lion Tombs of Dadan

AlUla 43524, Saudi Arabia

Opening & Closing time of Lion Tombs of Dadan

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