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Old Jeddah: In Search of the Lost City - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Old Jeddah: In Search of the Lost City

Old Jeddah: In Search of the Lost City

Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- Recently discovered archaeological remains are indicating that Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is home to an undiscovered and historical city buried under modern-day Jeddah.

Researchers, who argue this point, have drawn evidence from discoveries that were made when some inhabitants and architects found old ruins and tools whilst digging in certain areas. Sources revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that talks are being held with a number of house owners in the Ain Faraj vicinity in an attempt to gain permission to excavate beneath their houses, since it is clear that the spring of Ain Faraj extends below in an area that has previously gone undiscovered.

One source said: “It is apparent that a deeper history lies beneath this historical city in which we live,” and confirmed that “there is definitely another history to the city.”

Sami Nawar, who heads Jeddah’s Tourism and Culture Department, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Many discoveries have been made to support this claim. For example, a resident of Al Mazloom Quarter was digging for a water reservoir at six meters deep when he found three hand mills, amongst other items.” Numerous other discoveries have been made in this region since.

For his part, writer and expert in the affairs of Jeddah’s old city, Abdul Wahab Abu Zanada, related a similar story stating that when he was excavating the Malika building, located in Al Balad region, he found a number of rusty canons and undetonated bombs, as well some other archaeological remains.

Abu Zanada cited many historical facts that support the claim that there is a buried city underneath modern-day Jeddah: “What is noticeable is that when you pass by Al Meamar Mosque, you would see that the southern side of the mosque is four meters high. But coming from the northern entrance of the mosque, one would find that it is at a higher level indicating that it was built on a hill, that is, the northern Jeddah plateau that extends to Al Atiq Mosque.”

Abu Zanada stated that there are indications that this hill, the area of which covers approximately two kilometres, is the location of the original city upon which the present city was built. It is the area that is bordered by Al Mazloom quarter and the north-eastern part of Al Sham quarter.

Abu Zanada stated that the existence of a historical city dating back approximately 2,400 years is supported by the fact that Alexander the Great came to Mecca as mentioned in the book ‘Al Akhbar al Diwal’ by Ahmed Bin Dawoud al Dinuri. “Alexander the Great was born and died in the fourth century, which confirms that Jeddah was discovered approximately 2,400 years ago. If we add to that the fact that the Qudaa’ah tribe once inhabited Jeddah, it confirms that Jeddah was known of in the second century.”

Abu Zanada continued, “When the Persian city of Siraf was attacked, some of its residents moved to Jeddah where they settled and built two fortresses around the city, one made of stone and the other of water (water canals that enclosed the city). In 568, they built a four-meter deep water tank.” He added, “I do not think that anything remains of it.”

Abu Zanada indicated that Thamudic inscription was found in Wadi Bowaib, approximately 14 kilometres north-east of Jeddah. The inscription by Saket Bin Yaashan included a prayer to his deity to grant him health, integrity and peace and to cure a woman called ‘Jamath’ or perhaps ‘Jumaah’ from fever. This inscription asserted that the Thamud tribe settled in Jeddah before the Qudaa’ah tribe.