Jahiliyah (Pre-Islamic) Gallery

This is the 3rd gallery hall in sequence. It is 500 square meters in area, and represents the time period extending from 400 A.D. to the Prophet’s migration (622 AD). This gallery displays a collection depicting the state of the Arabian tribes in the Pre-Islamic times, as well as the rituals and beliefs practiced, the daily activities, customs, traditions, trade, as well as the evolution of Arabic calligraphy. Also housed in the gallery are panels written in both Arabic and English that emphasize the significance of few key cities in the pre-Islamic times, which played an efficient role at both the cultural and economic level. Some of the most prominent towns, besides Makkah, were:
  • Jarash: Located in Asir province, it gained economic significance given its location along the caravan routes and its popularity for growing fruits, grains, and vegetables. It was also known for its manufacture of weapons, leather and metal goods.
  • Khaibar: It is located in the Hijazi strip surrounded by volcanic rock. It is unique for its handicrafts as well as its fertile lands and agricultural resources, especially dates. Items on display in the gallery indicate that the key manufactured products were armors, shields, swords and spears.
  • Najran: Located at the crossroads of the southern trade route, which turned it into a commercial center and a meeting point for travelers coming in from the north and the south.
  • Yethreb:  Renamed as Madina after the emergency of Islam, it was popular for prosperity and dense population that was made of three components, Aws, Khazraj and other Arabian tribes.
  • Hejr Al Yamamah: It was founded in Hanifa Valley prior to the dawn of Islam and was originally governed by Kindah Kingdom then Benu Hanifa. Its significance was its strategic location between trade routes. Researchers feel it is likely that the larger part of the antiquities are still lying under modern Riyadh.
  • Domat Al Jandal: Located in the northwestern part of Arabia, it gained its popularity prior to the rise of Islam, given it was a major commercial center for trade caravans headed toward the Levant. Key archeological sites in Domat Al Jandal are Marid Castle, City Wall, Dir’ea Quarter and Rajajeel Site.

Following these displays is a collection showcasing the emergence of Arabic writing. The oldest two alphabet systems known to history, on which other alphabets are based, are the Ugaritic alphabet, and the Phoenician alphabet. Aramaic writing, which was derived from Phoenician writing, was the basis for Nabataean writing and subsequently modern Arabic writing. The gallery also showcases models depicting Arabic poetry markets in Jahiliyah times (pre-Islamic times), which the city people helped create through the development of trade, and other activities. These markets were not specific to commercial activity only, but acted as a forum for people of the city, tradesmen and visitors where they discussed their current political and economic state, and recited poetry. Some of the most common markets known to Arabs in Jahilyah were Souk Okaz in Taif, Thu Al Mujaza near Makah, Domat Al Jandal, Najran, Hubashah and Meshqar in Hijr

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