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“Thaj”… Land of Gold Treasures in Saudi Arabia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Incense burner, solid pottery,Thaj, Saudi Arabia

Riyadh- Thaj city is considered one of the best historical sites in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia. It is known for being an archeological treasure that was hiding pieces of jewelry and gold in one of its 2000-year-old cemeteries.

These discoveries echoed widely among archeologists worldwide. Saudi archeologists suggest this site to be the capital of the old Gerrha Kingdom, which was known with its wealthy people and the important economic role it played in the Arab Gulf region around 300 B.C.

Historical information showed that settlements in Thaj ancient city, about 95 km west of Jubail, date back to the Stone Ages.

Saudi Archeologist Awad al-Zahrani, who conducted a field and scientific research on the site of Thaj, said that the residential area located inside the historic wall and the expanded surface including cemeteries and wells, point out to a huge population in the region, which worked in trade and engaged in some other activities like agriculture. They also drilled wells outside the fenced residential area and worked in pottery utensils industry.

Thaj treasures

In 1998, a team of Saudi archeologists from the Regional Museum of Dammam, initiated excavation in the site of Thaj, and outside the walls of the old city; they discovered a big crater in a ditch, hiding a funerary chamber, in which archeologists found a gold mask, necklaces, gold pearls and many other precious discoveries.

The most important discovery in Thaj was gold treasure that includes remains of a girl on a wooden bed, with three gold bands on her head; she wore gold necklaces, decorated with rubies, turquoise and pearls; one of the necklaces was made of 18 pearls hung by a golden thread. The girl was also surrounded by four golden statutes, and more than 200 gold buttons in different sizes.

Archeologists revealed that this funerary chamber dates back to 2000 years, from the Hellenistic period, when the Arabian Peninsula was linked to the Mediterranean world trough trade routes. Caravans coming from the Southern Peninsula passed many routes, including those of Thaj City. This prospering trade was considered a wealth source to possess all the fortune found in the funerary chamber.

Gerrha’s significance

Gerrha is known as one of many cities hidden in the Arabian Peninsula, and its discovery has represented an interesting ambition and challenge for many archeologists. Historic texts and books report that the Kingdom of Gerrha existed since the third century B.C. in the Arab Gulf region. This Kingdom enjoyed a great strategic importance, as it was a station to load and unload commodities heading to Mesopotamia and cities of Anatolia (Asia Minor).

People of Gerrha controlled the trade of gum, dates, perfumes, incense, and medical herbs produced in Oman and Hadhramaut. This region was also a station to re-export the Indian produce like spices, ivory, and incense, along with the Chinese silk imported from Asia. Gerrha has controlled the line of caravans transporting commodities to Basra, Petra, Palestine, and then to Europe.

They collected important information on the art of marine navigation, on ships and seasonal winds; they also transported their commodities through seas from India, Arabian Gulf to Mesopotamia/Babel. They dived for pearl in the Gulf Sea, which was another source of earning their living. The important role they played in the international trade brought the City of Gerrha huge financial revenues.

Back to Dr. Awad al-Zahrani, forecasts and different historical views still confuse researchers and archeologists on the exact location of Gerrha Kingdom. Strapo’s geography has been considered an important source of information, and he suggested that the Thaj historical site is most probably the old Gerrha Kingdom.