The weather is a bit cool this morning as we set off to discover the rock art of the AlUla valley. Well known for having sheltered the Nabataean, Lahyanite and Dadaite civilizations, to which we owe such sensational remains as Madain Saleh or Ekma, the valley is home to many sites containing millenary inscriptions.
In these veritable open-air libraries, a favourite playground for archaeologists, linguists, anthropologists and other sociologists, we resist the bite of the icy wind on our faces, and set out to discover these signs, the first fruits of the Arabic alphabet and the diaries of our predecessors, more than 3,000 years after their era.
A 3,000-year-old diary
As if to salute this dive into the depths of human memory, we will use ancestral means of transport. It is on horses and camels’ backs that we will carry out this educational trail. A quick acquaintance with our proud mounts and here we go, riding in the manner of the first caravans to have tamed these places. This rock twitter, which was used between the time of the first kings of the region, until after the appearance of Islam, contains several hundred inscriptions now translated, which allow us to know the morals, customs, diets, or even the conflicts of the people who once populated these places.
As the day progresses and the sun regains its rights, the notion of time escapes us. On the walls, drawings and stories follow one another, engraved on the rock to ensure eternal life for their authors. Already, the immersion in the past is coming to an end, and the sediments must stop telling us the story of AlUla and its inhabitants. It is thus up to their heirs to take over, and to make us discover a region that still contains many surprises.