The ancient city of Gerha = Qariyat Al-Fau
Weekly Arab Political Magazine
February 17, 1999
Al-Ansari, who is considered the founder of archaeology in Saudi Arabia, presented a paper on Qariyat Al-Fau (Fau Village) which in classical texts is referred to as 'Gerha', its Greek name.
Al-Ansari said that this ancient city, which is situated at the centre of the Arabian peninsula between Al-Salil and Najran and on the edge of the Empty Quarter on the old trade route, was the political, economic and cultural capital of the Mu'in state between the fourth century B.C. and up to the first century B. C. After that, it became the capital of the Kendah Kingdom, until the fourth century A.D.
He pointed out that although the city is described by the word 'qariyah', or village, the original meaning of the word in Arabic is not the same as it is today. The root of the word actually meant a large city, settled and open to the outside world and it was from that original sense of the word that Holy Mecca takes its other name, 'Umm Al-Qura', or Mother of Cities.
Qariyat Al-Fau was designated a city as the excavations that have taken place there have found that the city was not surrounded by walls, was open to the outside world and had established relations with the civilisation that existed between the Tigris and the Euphrates; it had reached a very advanced stage of human development and deserved to be named a city. Dr Al-Ansari showed slides of the excavations of the ruins of the city, which began in 1972, showing silver coins from that period as well as the city's temples, the cemeteries where royalty were buried, and also public cemeteries.
Amazon.com: Qaryat Al-Fau: Books: Rahman Al-Ansary by Rahman Al-Ansary.
The ancient town of Qaryat is situated at about 700 km southwest of Riyadh. Its archaeological ruins known today as al-Fau, a name derived from its geographical location at a passageway through Tuwaiq mountains range where it intersects with wadi al-Dawasir , overlooking the northwestern edge of the Empty Quarter desert.
Confirmed from texts found at the site during excavations, Qaryat had been mentioned in ancient South Arabian documents as the capital of Kinda kingdom from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. In antiquity the town flourished as a major trading post, located at the heart of ancient caravan roads, it had gained importance by its control over the only pass via Tuwaiq mountains range, from western and southwestern to eastern Arabia. Archaeological remains at the site, indicate that the town expanded to about 2 km north – south, and about 750 m. east – west.
The archaeological excavations carried out by King Saud University team, from 1970 to 2003, uncovered two major sectors of the town. The first; is a residential, consisted of houses, squares, streets and a market place. The second; is a sacred, consisted of temples and tombs. The general architectural plan is very indicative of pre-Islamic town in Arabia.
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