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The Al-`Ula oasis (also Al Ola, Arabic ; Also Dedan), some 110 km southwest of Tayma (380 km north of Medina) in northwestern Arabia was located at the incense route.

It was the capital of the ancient Lihyanites (Dedanites). It is well known for archaeological remnants, some over 2000 years old.


The older history of the oasis has been divided into several phases. The Dedanite kingdom spans to the seventh and sixth century BC. Dedan is mentioned in the "Harran Inscriptions". In these it is told how Nabonidus the king of Babylonia made a military campaign to northern Arabia in 552 BC or somewhat later, conquering Tayma, Dedan and Yathrib, the old Medina.C.J. Gadd, "The Harran Inscriptions of Nabonidus", Anatolian Studies, 8 (1958), page 59It is thought that around the turn to the fifth century BC the kingdom became hereditary.

The next four hundred years, until around 100 BC, were the time of the Kingdom of Lihyan. The Nabataeans were the lords of the region at least until 106 CE when the Romans conquered their capital Petra. The Nabataeans made Hegra, the modern Mada'in Saleh, their second capital. The power center of the region thus shifted to Hegra some 22 km to the north of Al-`Ula.

Muhammad passed through Al-`Ula in 630 on his campaign to Tabuk. Al-Mabiyat some 20 km away near Mughaira became the next commercial center of the region. It thrived from around 650 until it declined at some time before...
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