The Arabian Peninsula is an area in the Middle East consisting of several large countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Without the need for further explanation, the area must have been famous for the growth and development of Islam, right?
Before the existence of Islam, it turned out that there were quite some ancient civilizations in the Arabian Peninsula that were influential so they succeeded in forming a royal government. Want to know what the ancient kingdoms were? Come on, see the following explanation, reported by various sources!
- The Kingdom of Kedar
The Kedar people are a nomadic tribe living in Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia. It is believed that the name of this nation was taken from Ismail’s second son named Kedar. The civilization of this nation developed rapidly after the fall of Assyria and succeeded in forming an empire in the 9th century BC.
The sole capital, Adumattu (now Dumat al-Jandal), was also discovered and founded by the Kedars. During its journey, this kingdom has very complex relations with neighboring countries. The land of Kedar was again colonized when the Assyrian Empire managed to rise from adversity.
When Assyria was destroyed in the late 7th century BC, the Persians arrived and made Kedar client state hundreds of years later. This kingdom was then ruled by the Ancient Greeks, the Lihyan people, and finally the Nabataean Kingdom in the 2nd century BC.
- the Lihyan Kingdom
At first, the people living in the Al-Ula Oasis in the heart of Saudi Arabia advanced and succeeded in forming a small kingdom. A city in the oasis, Dedan, became the seat of government in the late 9th or early 8th century BC. It is believed that the capital became a trading ground for elephant ivory, ebony, and saddles.
The Lihyan Kingdom, which was founded at the end of the 6th century or early 5th century BC, was a continuation of the previous kingdom. This kingdom is believed to be quite prosperous and developed due to the discovery of locally made coins near Al-Ula, as well as hundreds of inscriptions and graffiti in several ancient languages (Dedan, Aramaic, Minaean, and Thamudic).
These discoveries, especially inscriptions and graffiti, prove that the people there have high literacy. Another form of a relic of the Lihyan Kingdom is the temple of ancient religious rituals.
In the first century BC, the Nabataean Kingdom from the north (Jordan) succeeded in controlling the Lihyan Kingdom. Hegra became their new urban center near the Al-Ula Oasis.
- the Kingdom of Saba
The kingdom of Saba, which is located in southern Arabia (now Yemen) is believed to have developed since the 8th century BC, although some think it was from the 12th century BC. This country is very prosperous because it is traversed by the Incense Route, an incense and frankincense trade land route that connects Yemen with Gaza. The Sabaeans succeeded in dominating this route in the 10th century and completely ruled in the 8th century BC.
The government built a large dam in the royal capital, Marib, which was useful in agriculture so that it did not depend solely on the Incense Route. Agricultural and plantation products produced include wheat, barley/jali rice, barley, dates, grapes, and other fruits. The Saba government also built several temples dedicated to ancient gods, one of which is Mahram Bilqis which still stands today.
The land trade mainstay of Saba was threatened after the Egyptian domination since the 4th century BC, which prioritized sea trade. The kingdom finally disbanded in 275 AD after being colonized by the Himyar nation, which grew stronger in influence in the Yemen region.
- the Hadramaut Kingdom
The Hadrami are a large tribe living in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. They lived in the Hadramaut region and used to speak an ancient language (but now Arabic). It is not known exactly when they developed and succeeded in establishing their kingdom, but researchers suspect the Hadramaut Kingdom has existed since the 8th century BC.
The first capital of the Hadrami people, Shabwa, was destroyed in about the 3rd century CE so Shibam became its successor capital. Not long after, this kingdom was ruled by the Himyar Kingdom which was getting stronger and more influential in Yemen. The city of Shibam which is now a legacy of Muslims later in the form of unique vertical buildings from the 16th century AD.
After Islam entered the land of Hadramaut, the area also became one of the “producers” of scholars and habibs. Many Hadramis migrated to Indonesia long ago, married local people, and participated in the emergence of prominent Arab-Indonesian Muslim figures.
- the Himyar Kingdom
The Himyars are indigenous people who live in the southwest region of Yemen. The great Himyar rulers succeeded in establishing this kingdom at the end of the 2nd century BC. This nation was able to develop rapidly after the fall of the Kingdom of Saba, the Kingdom of Hadramaut, and others.
The first capital of the kingdom, Zafar, was moved to Sana’a (now the capital of modern Yemen) in the 4th century AD. Since then, Christianity and Judaism entered and grew in the land of Himyar.
This kingdom was in a strategic position because it became a traffic point for merchant ships from India, East Africa, and Mediterranean countries. The Himyar people’s relations with the Roman Empire were excellent due to the export of ivory, a valuable and important item for the nobility in Rome.
Unfortunately, various internal problems and changes in trade routes brought down the politics and economy of the Himyar Kingdom. In 525 AD, Abyssinian troops from Ethiopia crossed into Yemen and colonized the country.
It is known that now, several local governments, including Saudi Arabia, have revived the remnants of the old Arab civilization. They carry out excavations of archaeological sites that are still ongoing to this day, as well as the opening of historic tours which are also recognized by UNESCO. That way, we can learn more about the ancient kingdom.