History, Ancient Times
Nabataeans, Dilmun, Dedan, toehold, ijaz
In the 1st millennium bc the Minaean kingdom was well established in ‘Asir and southern Al ?ijaz along the Red Sea coast; its capital was at Karna, also spelled Qarnah (present-day Sa‘dah, Yemen). The Minaeans were nomads and herders, who eventually became the chief traders of incense throughout northern Al ?ijaz. After the Minaeans withdrew from their trading post at Dedan (now Al ‘Ula) in the 1st century bc, the Nabataeans founded a commercial center at Mada’in Sali?, just to the north.
In the eastern part of the country was Dilmun, which seems to have been a politicocultural federation centered on the Persian Gulf shore. Dilmun has sometimes been identified with the island of Bahrain, although it certainly included parts of the mainland and traded with the inland sections of what is now Saudi Arabia.
Alexander the Great of Macedonia had plans to conquer Arabia before his untimely death in 323 bc; the Ptolemies of Egypt later gained a toehold at Yanbu‘ al Ba?r but were thwarted by the Nabataeans. The country was further subject to Ethiopian and Persian struggles for control. By the 5th century ad Mecca had superseded the Nabataean city of Petra in importance.
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