Archaeological research at the oasis of Tayma, Saudi Arabia

"The Archaeology of the Oasis Tayma: Continuity and Change of Subsistence in the arid north-western region of the Arabian Peninsula from the Neolithic to Islamic periods" is a joint-project of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Riyadh, and the German Archaeological Institute, Berlin. The long-term project is funded by the German Research Foundation. Regular seasons of excavation have been conducted since 2004.



27° 37' 46.9092" N, 38° 32' 38.1624" E

Location © DAIThe oasis of Tayma (27°37'30" N, 38°32'30" E, ca 830 m above sea level, Province of Tabuk) is located in the North-West of the Arabian Peninsula, an area which is characterised by its arid climate. Tayma is situated in a flat basin and is surrounded by several mountainous heights, such as the Jabal Ghunaym. North of the settlement is a large dry lake (sebkha), occupied by a lake some ten thousand years ago. The characteristic environment of the oasis is best represented by the Bir Hadaj well of some 18 m diameter in the city centre and extended palm gardens. The rapidly growing modern settlement presently covers about one third of ancient Tayma, which has an estimated area of some 950 ha. The most visible remains of the ancient occupation are the high city walls.


View on the site © DAINew perspectives
Latest archaeological and palaeoenvironmental research indicate occupation by a sedentary population as early as the 4th millennium BC. Remains of a flinstone industry for the production of beads go back to that period. An urban style is expressed by the impressive mudbrick walls of the outer fortification, which, according to scientific dating methods (OSL, 14C), may be dated as early as the 3rd millennium BC. Whereas the late Early Bronze Age / Early Middle Bronze Age is represented by metal weapons (excavated by a Saudi expedition in 2003), continuous occupation is attested from the early Iron Age onwards. At this time, there were apparently intense contacts between Tayma, Egypt and the Levant. These new results have fundamentally changed the perspective on Tayma as a place which had been understood mainly as a place of the 1st millennium BC.

Trade and politics
The written sources from Tayma and its surroundings are characterised by early North-West Arabian Taymanitic (Thamudic) and Aramaic texts, concentrating on the 1st millennium BC. Nevertheless, until now the historical image of Tayma was mainly shaped by foreign sources. Assyrian texts of the 9th century BC mention Arab tribes. The place name of Tayma is mentioned in the early 8th century BC text from the Middle Euphrates before being mentioned in the context of tribute to be delivered to the Assyrian king Tiglathpileser III. Further on, Tayma is mentioned as a trading post, also in the Biblical sources. In spite of new cuneiform texts from the oasis itself and of the known sources of the Achaemenid period the type of connections between Tayma and the larger political units of the Late Babylonian and Achaemenid periods is little known.

Regional history
City wall of Tayma © DAIOn a regional level the relation between Tayma and the neighbouring oasis Dedan (modern al-Khuraybah) was characterised by concurrence. Kings of the Liyhanite dynasty of Dedan deposited inscriptions in one of the temples of Tayma and erected statues. At the same time, the size of the settlement was reduced, probably a sign for the shifting of power in the region. Tayma becomes part of the Nabataean sphere, less clear is the impact by the Roman-Byzantine empire. Although the poet Imru' al-Qays (d. 540 AD) says that the rain-storm "does not leave a palm-tree in Tayma nor a house unless it is built of stone", the city played an important role in the expansion of Islam towards the Levant. Before, an important Jewish community lived at Tayma. As late as the 11th century, according to the historian al-Bakri, Tayma was known as a wealthy place with a large city wall. 


Tayma Stone © DAIThe project developed the following main aims in accordance with the general research plan of the German Archaeological Institute:

  • The acquisition, recording and study of archaeological and environmental data from the site and its surroundings
  • Investigation of the occupational sequence and pertaining developments based on stratigraphic excavations ('types of sedentist occupation')
  • Establishing chronological reference systems based on classes of artifacts
  • Reconstruction of social relations and patterns of subsistence: political organisation, organisation of family / kinship groups, techniques of subsistence and production, cultic life
  • Study of cultural, political and economic foreign relations: settlement patterns, regional and supra-regional relations ('Cultural transfer': Mesopotamia, South Arabia, Gulf region, Levant, Egypt)
  • Digital processing and storage of project data (Databases and GIS)
  • Conservation of objects and building remains
  • Scientific publication of the results (Print, Internet)
  • Cooperation with the SCTA in the touristic development of the site and the elaboration of a site management plan
  • Public outreach: lectures, publications, exhibitions, radio and television

History of Research

19th and 20th century
General site plan (1980) © DAIIn 1877 C. Doughty delivered the first detailed description of the site of Tayma, including its architecture and pottery, and a sketch map. Subsequently, the investigations of C. Huber in 1883 (later together with J. Euting) resulted in the Tayma Stele to be exposed in the Musée du Louvre. Decades later, H.St J. Philby started archaeological and environmental observations at the site (1951). The publication by Winnett and Read (1970) of their survey in NW Arabia provided not only a wealth of textual evidence from the site (mainly dated to the 6th century BC) but also presented the characteristic painted potsherds. After that, P. Parr conducted excavations at a nearby watch-tower.

From the 1970s until now
The systematic investigation and record of archaeological sites by the Directorate of Antiquities of the Kingdom which started in the mid-1970s and saw the foundation of the journal ATLAL led to further research at the site. In 1979, G. Bawden, C. Edens and R. Miller commenced large-scale research at Tayma (Qasr al-Hamra, Qasr al-Radm) and published a plan of the site. The Directorate of Antiquities continued excavations at Tayma, in the cemeteries, irrigation systems and remains of Islamic buildings (see bibliography). On the epigraphic side, attention has been given to the discovery of Taymanitic inscriptions, though not at the site itself but in the vicinity, mentioning king Nabonidus of Babylon (Müller and Said 2002). Since 2004 the German-Saudi cooperative project is active at the site, archaeologically investigating the ancient remains and the environment.

Recent Activities

Elevation model of Tayma and its surroundings © DAISince 2004 there have been up to two seasons of field work every year. The activities centre on stratigraphic excavations of settlement remains and on environmental studies at the site and its surroundings. Furthermore, conservation measures are carried out on objects and building remains.
The archaeological research is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as a long-term project. The following projects are attached to these investigations:

  • Water management at Tayma (DFG / University of Applied Science, Lübeck): 2006-7; 2008-9; 2011-13
  • Geoarchaeological research at Tayma and its surroundings (University of Cologne)
  • The walls of Tayma (Fritz Thyssen Foundation / BTU Cottbus / Architectural department at the head office of the DAI): 2006-9
  • Archaeobotanic studies and the recent environment of Tayma (Fritz Thyssen Foundation / Free University of Berlin / Scientific Department at the Head Office of the DAI): 2011-13


Participating scientific disciplines
Excavations in Area E © DAIThe archaeological project integrates a number of disciplines from historical studies (Semitic philology, Assyriology, architectural history and restoration) and geo-sciences (archeozoology, archaeobotany, hydrology, geology and geophysics, mineralogy and petrology). Furthermore, the field of conservation and restoration is represented. The interdisciplinary co-operation is continuously being extended and intensified. This is also valid for the co-operation between the departments of the German Archaeological Institute and partner universities on a national and international level.

Applied methods

  • Archaeological data are mainly obtained by large area excavations conducted by local workmen and, if necessary, assisted by machine
  • Recording stratigraphic information by Stratigraphic Units (SU) and matrixes
  • Use of non-destructive prospecting techniques (geomagnetics, geo-radar / GPR, electric resistivity)
  • Digital recording and storage of data (photography, photogrammetry, databases for stratigraphic units, objects, photographs, drawings, plans, tables, results of scientific dating, conservation measures etc.)
  • Combined recording of architectural data by tachymeter / photogrammetry and by hand-drawings; digital processing of this data
  • Integrating the data into the GIS of the project
  • Conservation of building remains using a locally developed modified loam free of chemical additives
  • Backfilling of fully recorded trenches
  • Systematic conservation of objects by a team of specialised conservators
  • Archaeometric pottery studies
  • Application of scientific dating methods: Optically Stimulated luminiscence (OSL), Radiocarbon dating (14C)
  • Archaeobotanical and archaeozoological studies


Stratigraphic overview
Painted pottery from Area O © DAIAltogether six occupational periods from Neolithic to Modern have been identified at a number of locations:

  • Occupational Period 6 (Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age): Margins of the sebkha (Area SE)
  • Occupational Period 5 (Middle to Late Bronze Age): Outer wall (Area C, Area Q)
  • Occupational Period 4 (Early Iron Age, 12th to 9th century BC): At the outer wall (Area A) and between outer and inner walls (Area O)
  • Occupational Period 3 (Middle to Late Iron Age [3/1] and the period of the Lihyanite dynasty at Tayma until Late Antiquity / Pre-Islamic period [3/2]): Settlement remains in the central part of the site (Area E), at the outer wall (Area Q) and cemeteries at Tal'a [3/1]; temple (Area E, Building E-b1) and public buildings farther North-West (E-b6); residential area in Area F [3/]
  • Occupational Period 2 (Islamic): Small farmsteads (Area C and surroundings) and large scale architecture (Areas C and Z)
  • Occupational Period 1 (Modern): Remains of temporary camps on the site

Earliest Remains (Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Early Bronze Age: Occupational Period 6)
Area S: Stone tombs at Talah © DAIIn Compound B a number of Neolithic flint projectiles have been found at the surface. Extensive wast dumps of a stone tool industry and carnelian beads have been found at the eastern margings of the sebkha. They can be dated either to the Chalcolithic ort he Early Bronze Age. The original location of the production site remains presently unknown, but may have been in the vicinity. Countless numbers of these objects have been transferred to the central part of the settlement, when mud from the sebkha was used for the production of the bricks of the outer city wall.

Middle and Late Bronze Ages (Occupational Period 5)
The discovery of a fenestrated axe and a ribbed dagger at Sana'iye by M. al-Hajjari in 2003 provided first evidence of the presence of artefacts at Tayma which can be connected to Egypt and the Levant. However, these objects were found in secondary deposition.
Late Babylonian stele © DAIWhereas scientific dating (OSL) of the sand dunes accumulated at the outer city wall indicate a construction of the wall as early as the 3rd millennium BC, a 14C dating result of organic remains from mudbricks of that wall provides an 18th century BC date, from which a construction of the wall during or after the Middle Bronze Age can be deduced (the walls of Tayma have been investigated by a project of the Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus and the Architectural Department at the Head Office of the DAI, founded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation between 2005 and 2008).
At Tayma the presence of Qurayyah Painted Ware (a Late Bronze Age pottery style known from Northwest Arabia, the Southern Levant and Sinai) in secondary contexts, indicates the presence of occupational remains of this period at Tayma. Remains of it may have been found at the outer city wall (Area Q). A tower at the northwestern branch of the outer city wall (Square W41) may have been built and used during the Late Bronze Age as well.

Early Iron Age (Occupational Period 4)
At the southwestern periphery of the settlement remains of a public building (probably a temple) built on natural bedrock have been excavated, surrounded by a massive 35 x 38 m enclosure wall (Area O). Objects recovered from this building show close connections to Egypt, the Levant and Syria: Egyptian gods/goddesses and scarabs made of fayence, fayence vessels with the representation of lotos flowers, mask pendants of fayence, reed baskets, wooden boxes, inlays of bone and wood, 'tokens' made of ivory (gaming pieces?). The pertaining pottery decorated with bichrome representations of birds framed by geometric motifs and of hundreds of unpainted small beakers, probably used for consumption during ritual ceremonies. The building was equipped with its own water supply and a cistern. The entire building was destroyed by fire. 14C dates of seasonal plants provide a 12th to 9th century BC date for the use-life of the building. Head of a Lihyanite statue © DAIContemporary (14C) building remains were excavated at the outer wall (Area A), where a small building had been erected on top of the accumulated sand dunes. In Area A, painted pottery identical to that of Area O was discovered as it was the case farther south within the walled settlement (Areas H, Q) as well as in the central part of the site (Area E) - always in secondary deposition.

Middle to Late Iron Age (Occupational Period 3/1)
Middle Iron Age pottery has been identified within a sequence in Area Q. Bowls and jars with formal affinities to Syro-Mesopotamian and Levantine pottery have been observed. Several sherds of this period have been observed at other places of the site in secondary deposition.
Probably of the same date are the cemeteries of Tal'a and Sana'iye (Industrial Site), which are characterised by the presence of a further painted pottery style (Sana'iye pottery). Circular or rectangular grave buildings / chambers have been built on natural bedrock in clusters and contain multiple burials. 14C dates from Tal'a indicate a maximum duration from the 9th to 5th century BC of the occupation of the cemetery. In the settlement, the painted pottery was only discovered in filling layers or in deposits on the bedrock, probably indicating a complete removal of pertaining building remains before a reorganisation of the central part of the site took place.
Body fragments of Lihyanite statues © DAIAn arched stele which was found in the debris east of the temple in Area E (see below) shows a standing royal figure and three astral divine symbols, identifying the object, together with the preserved cuneiform text, as work of the last Babylonian king Nabonidus (556-539 BC). This king lived for ten years at Tayma. A disc-shaped object, probably the base of the same stele, mentions for the first time the king's name in cuneiform at Tayma. The presence of these monumental inscriptions may point to the existence of settlement remains of that period, but none of them have been clearly identified so far. Remains may have been encountered at the northeastern part of the central part of the settlement (beneath temple E-b1 and east of it), where massive walls and an extended building with large stone blocks have been discovered.
The most prominent artefact of the Achaemenid period at Tayma is the so-called Tayma Stone, probably to be dated to the early 4th century BC. The majority of the imagery of Tayma has been dated to this period (5th/4th century BC).

The Lihyanite dynasty, the Nabataeans and Late Antiquity (Occupational Period 3/2)
Probably starting with the 4th century BC there are indications for the presence of the Lihyanite dynasty of Dedan at Tayma. At various locations of the site, Aramaic royal inscriptions and fragments of monumental statues attest that Tayma may have been under control of this dynasty for several generations. To this period the construction of a temple building at the northeastern part of the central mound can be attributed (Area E, Building E-b1, Building Level E:3). The building could be accessed through a pair of monumental stairs and a platform leading into a columned hall. In front of the temple there were numerous large basins installed. The interior walls of the building were once coated with white plaster bearing coloured decoration. The floor consisted of large flagstones. A subterranean tunnel connected the temple with a well. Inscriptions and fragmentary statues of Lihyanite rulers were reused as building materials during the Late Antique period (Building Stage E:3a). There are two pillars with inscriptions of years 30 and 40 of king TLMY. Inscriptions of years 4 and 20 of the same king are attested as well. Most probably this king can be identified with a TLMY of the Lihyanite king list who reigned for 44 years (Farès-Drappeau 2005). A further inscription attests the existence of a governor of Tayma at the time of a king LWDN, who was responsible for construction work at the (already existing) city wall. The findspot of this inscription next to the inner city wall, thus, indicates the earliest possible construction date of this wall, indicating at the same time that the city area had been considerably reduced. During the time of the Lihyanite dynasty, outside of this wall there was a graveyard with single and multiple burials, cut into the bedrock and covering the Early Iron Age complex of Area O.
Fragments of arm and hand of a statue © DAIAt the same time, south of the temple a large residential area had developed which was occupied until the Nabataean and Late Antique periods. A number of distinctive building levels have been identified, and the most significant changes have been registered between Building Levels F:3 and F:2. In addition to Nabataean inscriptions on pottery jars, an inscription mentioning the Nabataean king Aretas IV was recovered from the temple (E-b1). Architectural decorative elements, such as a horned capital, a massive sandstone jar application and a triglyph show close similarities to the tomb facades at Mada'in Salih.
Probably during the later part of the Nabataean period a 500 m long ditch (12 m wide and up to 6 m deep) was dug at the outer side of the inner city wall. The excavated material was used for filling the restored inner wall which was conceived as a two-shells construction.
During Late Antiquity, the entire northern part of the central site was enclosed by a further wall, delimitating an extended 2 ha complex of public buildings to Southwest which can be dated to the same period (14C).

Building remains of the Islamic period (Occupational period 2)
Incense burner with Nabataean inscription © DAIBetween outer and inner walls a large square shaped building with rooms in its southern corners has been identified (extending over 2,500 square meters), which belongs most probably to the early Islamic period. At this time a number of small farmsteads had been erected inside of the inner wall (from the 8th century onwards; 14C). On the opposite side of the wadi crossing the ancient site of Tayma remains of public buildings have been excavated (Area Z). They were occupied during the 9th/10th centuries and subsequently abandoned.

Conservation and restoration
In addition to the expanding modern settlement environmental conditions contribute considerably to erosion and damage of the ancient remains of Tayma. Archaeologists, conservators and architects have jointly developed strategies for the implementation of an integrated conservation concept, including monitoring of existing conservation measures. For consolidation measures of building remains a mortar made of modified loam based exclusively on locally available materials and free of any chemical additives has been developed. Since 2010 a training programme in building conservation for local specialists from Tayma has been launched by the DAI.

Palm-tree gardens in the oasis © DAISeveral transects of core drillings have been laid over the sebkha for reconstructing the sequence of deposits. Most significant for the beginning of settlement at the oasis was the existence of an ancient lake as early as the 9th millennium BC (14C) which, from the 5th millennium BC onwards dryed as a result of Late Holocene climatic changes in the region. Pollen remains from the drill-cores indicate the presence of cultivated plants. These remains will be analysed from 2011 onwards in the framework of a project by the Free University of Berlin and the Scientific Department at the Head Office of the DAI studying archaeobotanic remains and the recent vegetation of Tayma, founded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.
Hydrological investigations by the University of Applied Science Lübeck (funded by the DFG) illustrated that the water supply of the oasis was based mainly on groundwater drawn from various wells and a spring-lake, the latter identified within the inner wall. Within the walled settlement, traces of an extended agricultural irrigation system with channels have been identified.

Cooperation / Cooperation partners

Archaeological research at Tayma is based on a cooperative agreement between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), Riyadh (represented by its Vice-President Professor Dr Ali al-Ghabban), and the German Archaeological Institute, Oriental Department, Berlin (Professor Dr Ricardo Eichmann). Its inception is due to the initiative and constant support of Professor Said al-Said, King Saud University, Riyadh.
Archaeological fieldwork is carried out jointly by the Oriental Department of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin (Director Professor Dr Ricardo Eichmann, Field Director Dr Arnulf Hausleiter [DFG], head of documentation (Mr) Dr Andrea Intilia [DFG]) and head of digital technologies Dr Sebastiano Lora [DFG]). Specific research issues are studied by several attached projects. The Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography in Tayma as part of the SCTA is the physical base of the project (Director: Mohammed al-Najem).

Scientific Co-operation

  • 14C-Dating: Dr. Joachim Görsdorf, Scientific Department at the Head Office of the DAI, Berlin (until 2007)
  • Anthropology: Dott. Emmanuele Petiti, Università di Firenze / anthropozoologica.livorno s.n.c.
  • Archaeobotany: Drs. Reinder Neef, Scientific Department at the Head Office of the DAI, Berlin
  • Archaeozoology: Prof. Dr. Norbert Benecke, Michael Hochmuth, Scientific Department at the Head Office of the DAI, Berlin
  • Epigraphy, Coordination and Early North-West Arabian Inscriptions: Prof. Dr. Said F. al-Said, King Saud University, Riyadh
  • Epigraphy, Cuneiform texts: Dr. Hanspeter Schaudig, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, Seminar für Sprachen und Kulturen des Vorderen Orients, Assyriologie
  • Epigraphy, Aramaic and Nabataean Inscriptions: PD Dr. Peter Stein, Universität Jena, Michael C.A. Macdonald, Oxford University
  • Geoarchaeology and OSL-Dating: Prof. Dr. Helmut Brückner, Dr. Nicole Klasen, Max Engel, Geographic Institute, University of Cologne
  • Historical sources: Prof. Dr. Norbert Nebes, Universität Jena
  • Hydrology and water management (attached DFG project): Prof. Dr. Matthias Grottker, Kai Wellbrock, University of Applied Sciences Lübeck, Labor für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft
  • Mineralogy and Petrography: Dr. Lara Maritan, Università degli Studi, Padova, Dipartimento di Mineralogia e Petrologia
  • Recent Vegetation: Prof. Dr. Harald Kürschner, Free University of Berlin
  • Research on the walls of Tayma (2006-2008, attached project funded by the Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung): Prof. Dr. Klaus Rheidt (Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus (BTU)), Dr. Peter I. Schneider (Architectural Department at the Head Office of the DAI)
  • Restoration, Conservation: Dipl.-Rest. Gereon Lindlar, Büro für Restaurierungsberatung, Bonn (Coordination); Jörg Breitenfeldt, Restaurierung am Oberbaum, Berlin

Scientific services

  • 14C-Dating: Leibniz-Labor für Altersbestimmungen, Christian-Albrechts-Universität, Kiel (until 2008); Center for Applied Isotope Studies, Athens, Georgia (USA)
  • Geophysical Prospecting / GPR (2005): Zentralanstalt für Metrologie und Geodynamik, Vienna
  • Geophysical Prospecting / Geomagnetics (2004): GGH GbR, Freiburg
  • Presentation and Site Management: Albert Distelrath, Köln
  • Restoration / Conservation (Stone), Building conservation (2005-2006): ars restauro
  • Surveying (2005-2006): University of Applied Sciences Karlsruhe, Institut für Geomatik

Majid al-Anizy (2004-2, 2005-1, 2006, 2007-2, 2008), Norman Basler (2008), Abdallah Basonbul (2004-2, 2005-1, 2006-1), Erol Bayirli (2005-1), André Beuger (2004-2, 2005-1, 2006-2), Alessia Borlin (2010-1, 2011-1), Jan Bosch (2006-2, 2007-1, 2008-1), Christian Bost (2005-2, 2006-1), Jörg Breitenfeldt (2008-2, 2009-1, 2010-2), Helmut Brückner (2006-2, 2007-1), Andreas Bussas (2008-1), Martin Christiansen (2009-1), Oliver Conradt (2007-1), Mirco Cusin (2004-1, 2005-1, 2006-2007, 2009-1, 2010-1), Khalil / Abdulaziz al-Dayel (2005, 2007-2, 2008), Florian Deinert (2007-1), Paolo Del Vesco (2009-1), Albert Distelrath (2008-2), Sebastian Eckert (2011-1), Ricardo Eichmann (since 2004), Wilhelm Ehrt (2010-2), Max Engel (2006-2, 2007-1, 2008-1, 2010-1), Khaled Eskoubi (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011-1), Thomas Ewender (2006-1), Denny Fauter (2007-1), Michael Fielauf (2008-2, 2009-1, 2010-1, 2011-1), Armin Frei (2006-1), Mirko Giannetta (2006-1, 2007-1), Stefan Giese (2004-1), Andreas Ginau (2008-1), Thomas Götzelt (2004-2 bis 2008-1), Manuel von Grafenstein (2011-1), Matthias Grottker (2005-1, 2007-1, 2008-1, 2009-1, 2011-1), Detlef Grubert (2004-1), Johannes Hackl (2004-1, 2005-1), Max Haibt (2011-1), Mubarak al-Hajji (2009-1, 2010, 2011-1), Rene Hahn (2008-1), Matthias Hamann (2005-1, 2007-1), Holger Hanisch-Gräfe (2006-1, 2007-1, 2008-1), Arnulf Hausleiter (2004-2010-1, 2011-1), Benjamin Heemeier (2007-1, 2009-1), Markus Heller (2008-1), Carsten Henselmann (2008-2), Jeza al-Herbi (2005, 2006-1, 2009-1, 2010-1), Michael Hochmuth (2006-1), Christian Hübner (2004-1), Andrea Intilia (since 2005), Heinz Jantzen (2006-1, 2007-1, 2008-1), Benjamin Junge (2009-1), Thomas Kabs (2009-1), Ulrich Kapp (2008-1), Patrick Keilholz (2007-1, 2008-1), Daniel Keller (2006-2), Nicole Klasen (2009-1, 2010-1), Arno Kose (2006, 2007-1, 2008-1), Johannes Kramer (2008, 2009-1, 2011-1), Jan Krumnow (2005, 2006, 2007-1, 2008, 2009-1, 2010-1, 2011-1), Harald Kürschner (2009-1, 2010-1), Guido Licciardi (2005-2), Gereon Lindlar (2007-2, 2008, 2009-1, 2010), Sebastiano Lora (2006-1, 2007, 2008-1, 2009-1, 2010, 2011-1), Marta Luciani (2011-1), Michael Macdonald (2010-1, 2011-1), Laura Machel (2011-1), Samy Mahjoub (2009-1, 2010-1), Claudio Mazzoli (2006-1, 2007-1), Frank Mindt (2009-1), Max Möhle (2006, 2007-1), Franz Moll (2005, 2006-1), Maher al-Moosa (2004-2, 2005, 2006-2), Nina Müller (2010-1), Faisal al-Mughailly (2006-2), Abdel Mohsen Munif (2010-2, 2011-1), Mohammed al-Najem (seit 2004), Reinder Neef (2005-1, 2006-1, 2008-1, 2009-1, 2010-1), Andreas Nette (2007-1), Jan Osten (2011-1), Khaled al-Othaibi (2010-1, 2011-1), Arno Patzelt (2007-1, 2008-1, 2009-1), Emmanuele Petiti (2008-1, 2009-1, 2010-1, 2011-1), Alexander Pfützner (2008), Christoph Purschwitz (2005-1, 2006-1, 2007-1, 2009-1, 2011-1), Thomas Pusinelli (2007-1), Naif al-Qanur (2004-2, 2005, 2006), Azzam Rajab (2009, 2010, 2011-1), Denise Resch (2010-1, 2011-1), Andrea Ricci (2005-1), Said F. al-Said (2004-2), Alberto Savioli (2004), Hanspeter Schaudig (2005-1), Matthias Scheck (2009-1), Olivier Scheeck (2006-1), Peter Schneider (2005-1, 2006, 2007-1, 2008), Philipp Schwinghammer (2004-1, 2005-1, 2006-1), Jennifer Scollin (2010-1, 2011-1), Sirri Seren (2005-1), Marian Stickel (2005-1), Gunnar Sperveslage (2005-2, 2006-1, 2007-1, 2008-1, 2009-1), Lars Staneck (2010-2), Philipp Tollkühn (2009-1, 2010-1, 2011-1), Francelin Tourtet (2008-1, 2009-1, 2010-1), Anselm Ullmann (2006-1), Peter Voß (2011-1), Friedrich Weigel (2008-1, 2009-1, 2011-1), Kai Wellbrock (2008-1, 2009-1, 2011-1), Jasmin Wilhelm (2011-1), Hagen Wirsing (seit 2007), Florian Ziegler (2005-2, 2006-1).

The support of the project by colleagues and institutions in Saudi Arabia, Germany and other countries is gratefully acknowledged. We are indebted to the increasing number of visitors to Tayma and their interest in the research of the co-operative project.
Prince Sultan bin Salman, President of the General Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, visited the excavation and the Museum of Tayma in 2008. Princess Adelah bint Abdullah and Minister Nora al-Fayz paid a visit to Tayma in 2011. The interest in the cooperative project shown by the Emir of Tabuk, Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz resulted in his visit in spring 2006. The understanding for the archaeological work from the Muhafadh of Tayma and the Head of the Municipality of Tayma is appreciated. The German Embassy at Riyadh and the consulate general at Jeddah provided assistance in administrative and logistical matters and public outreach.


General Commission for Tourism and Antiquities
Section for Antiquities and Museums
P.O. Box 66680 Riyadh 11586 Saudi-Arabia
Phone: +966-1-8808855
Telefax: +966-1-8808844


The project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn, (DFG) and supported by the Orient Department of the German Archaeological Institute. The Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of Tayma offers logistic and technical support as does the Antiquities department at Tabuk.

The sub-project on hydrology and water management of the Unversity of Applied Sciences, Lübeck is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn, (DFG).

The sub-project on the city wall of the Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus (BTU) and the Architectural Department of the German Archaeological Institute has been funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung between 2006 and 2008 and is currently being supported by the German Archaeological Institute.

Scientific analysis of the pottery is supported by the Università degli Studi Padova.

The company Hansa Luftbild, Riyadh, offers logistical assistance and equipment.


General information on Tayma

al-Ansary, A., Abu al-Hasan, H.
2002. Tayma. Crossroads of Civilizations. Riyadh.
Buhl, F., Bosworth, C.E.
1999: s.v. Tayma'. Encyclopedia of Islam (2nd edition), 430-431. Leiden.
Eichmann, R., Hausleiter, A., Götzelt, T.
2007: Once upon a time at the incense road. German research 2/2007, 4-9 (download English version).
Parr, P.J.
1997: s.v. Tayma'. In: E.M. Meyers ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East 5. 160-161. New York/Oxford.

History and archaeology of the region

al-Ansary, A.R., Abu al-Hassan, H.
2004: Die alten Kulturen von al-'Ula und Mada'in Salih. Bedeutende Städte an der Weihrauchstraße, Bd. 1, Riyadh.
Euting, J.
1896-1914. Tagebuch einer Reise in Inner-Arabien. Leiden.
Jaussen, J.A., Savignac, R.
1909-22. Mission archéologique en Arabie. Paris (Reprint 1997).
Parr, P.J., Harding, G.L., Dayton, J.E.
1972: Preliminary survey in Northwest Arabia. BIA 10: 23-62.
Philby, H.St.J.
1957. The Land of Midian, London.
Winnett, F.V., Reed, W.L.
1970. Ancient Records from North Arabia. Toronto/Buffalo.

Reports on the archaeological survey in NW Arabia have been published in the journal ATLAL.

Specific studies

Bawden, G.
1981. Recent Radiocarbon Dates from Tayma. ATLAL 5: 149-153.
Bawden, G., Edens, C.
1989. History of Tayma' and Hejazi trade during the first millennium B.C. JESHO 32: 48-103.
Briquel-Chatonnet, F., Robin, C.
1997. Objets d'Arabie Nord-Ouest (autres objets d'Arabie), no. 199-204. In: Calvet, Y., Robin, C. eds., Arabie heureuse - arabie deserte. Les antiquités arabiques du Musée du Louvre. Paris: 260-264.
Farès-Drappeau, S.
2005. Dédan et Lihyan, Histoire des Arabes aux confins des pouvoirs perse et hellénistique (IV-II avant l'ère chrétienne), Lyon.
al-Ghazzi, A.
2000. Dating and ascertaining the origin of the painted al-Ula pottery. ATLAL 15: 179-190.
Hayajneh, H.
2001. First evidence of Nabonidus in the Ancient North Arabian inscriptions from the region of Tayma'. PSAS 31: 81-95.
Macdonald, M.A.
1997. Trade routes and trade goods at the northern end of the 'Incense Road' in the first millennium B.C. In: Avanzini, A. ed., Profumi d'Arabia. Atti del Convegno. Rom: 333-349.
Müller, W.W. und al-Said, S.
2002. Der babylonische König Nabonid in taymanitischen Inschriften. In: Nebes, N. ed., Neue Beiträge zur Semitistik. Wiesbaden: 105-121.
Parr, P.J.
1988. Pottery of the late second millennium B.C. from North West Arabia and its historical implications. In: Potts, D.T. ed., Araby the blest. Studies in Arabian archaeology. Copenhagen: 73-90.
Schaudig, H.
2001. Inschriften Nabonids von Babylon und Kyros' des Großen samt den in ihrem Umfeld entstandenen Tendenzschriften. Textausgabe und Grammatik. Münster (=AOAT 256).

Previous research at Tayma

Abu Duruk, H.I.
1986. Introduction to the Archaeology of Tayma. Riyadh.
Bawden, G., Edens, C., Miller, R.
1980. Preliminary archaeological investigations at Tayma. ATLAL 4: 69-106.
al-Najam, M.H.
2000. Irrigation system and ancient water resources in Tayma area. ATLAL 15: 191-200.
at-Taima'i, M.H. (al-Najem, M.H.)
2006. Mintaqa rujum sa's'a bi-Tayma. Riyadh.

Further preliminary reports have been published in the journal ATLAL.

Preliminary reports

Deputy Ministry of Antiquities and Museums
2007: Mashru' al-ba'tha al-athariyya al-sa'udiyya al-almaniyya al-mushtaraka li-l-tanqib 'an athar Tayma', Riyadh.
Eichmann, R.
2008: Tayma - Oasis and trade center on the frankincense caravan route. Adumatu 17, 17-26.
Remains of the pre-Islamic period (4th to 6th century BC) at Tayma. In: C. Robin, J. Schiettecatte eds., L'Arabie à la veille de l'Islam, Paris, 55-69.
Eichmann, R., Hausleiter, A., al-Najem, M., al-Said, S.
2006: Tayma - Spring 2004. ATLAL 19: 91-116 (Arabic version: 191-216).
In press: Tayma - Autumn 2004 and Spring 2005. ATLAL 20.
Eichmann, R., Schaudig, H., Hausleiter, A.
2006: Archaeology and Epigraphy at Tayma (Saudi-Arabia), Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 17, 163-176.
al-Ghabban, A.
2008: L'influence de Babylone à Tayma et dans sa région à la lumière des découvertes archéologiques récentes. In: B. André-Salvini ed., Babylone. Paris: 231-232.
Hausleiter, A.
2006: Tayma, North-West Arabia. The context of archaeological research. Special Issue of Oriental Studies. Collection of papers on Ancient Civilizations of Western Asia, Asia Minor and North Africa, Peking, 160-182.
2008: Stèle néo-babylonienne de Tayma (Teiman). In: B. André-Salvini ed., Babylone. Paris: 187.
Fragment der Tayma-Stele Nabonids. In: J. Marzahn, G. Schauerte eds., Babylon. Wahrheit, Berlin, 273-274; 248, Fig. 170a-c.

Tayma in TV

"Flucht aus Babylon" as part of the series Schliemanns Erben (The heirs of Schliemann), broadcasted by the Second German Public Channel (ZDF) on 9 March 2008.

See Video


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