Jabal Ithlib Complex
Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia
At the entrance to a series of rocky summits called the Jabal Ithlib there exists the so-called “Diwan” which is a large triclinium, or formal Roman dining hall (10x12 meters). It has carved benches around its perimeter and pilasters carved in the corners out of the rock. This is the only known triclinium on the site and, unlike those found in Petra, this one is open on one side like an iwan. 

Within the Jabal Ithlib are a variety of niches and rooms cut out of the rock surrounding an open space thought to accommodate religious ceremonies. The rooms and niches contain a variety of graffiti including imagery relating to hunting, as well as a variety of languages from Nabataean Aramaic and Greek to Thamudic and Kufic Arabic. There are also many cult inscriptions that indicate the structures were used for religious ceremonies. One cult niche that has been found within and is of note is a cult niche that commemorates Shay’-al-Qawm, the god of nomads and caravan routes suggesting traders stopped here to give offerings before continuing further south on the established trade routes. 


Bowerstock, G. W. Roman Arabia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983. 

Hammond, Philip C. The Nabataeans--Their History, Culture and Archaeology. Gothenburg, P. Åström (S. vägen 61), 1973. 

Healey, John F. The Nabataean Tomb Inscriptions of Mada'in Salih. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Taylor, Jane. Petra and the Lost Kingdom of the Nabataeans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia
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Associated Names
Part of Site
ca. 1st century CE
Style Periods
10 x 12 m
Building Usages