HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY OF ARABIA SHOW THAT MECCA DID NOT EXIST BEFORE THE ADVENT OF
By Dr. Rafat Amari
The richness of the archaeological findings and inscriptions of
many regions of Arabia.
claims that Mecca
is an ancient historical city which existed long before Christ, dating as far
back as the time of Abraham. A powerful argument against this claim is the
absence of any inscriptions found on monuments, or in any archaeological
records dating back to those times. The ancient cities and kingdoms of Arabia do have rich histories which survive to this day
through monuments, the inscriptions they bear, and in other archaeological
documents. These historical records have given archaeologists a
highly-integrated and, in some cases, complete record of the names of kings who
ruled these cities and kingdoms. These records have also given archaeologists
important information about the history of the wars fought over the kingdoms
and cities of Arabia. In most cases,
inscriptions and monuments in various cities – especially in the western and
southwestern portions of Arabia – even give
the names of coregents who ruled with the kings. Yet, even with this rich
collection of historical and archaeological information, there are no
inscriptions or monuments, or other archaeological findings whatsoever, that
Regarding the richness of the archaeological findings
in Arabia, Montgomery
says that Assyrian inscriptions did not provide as much detailed information as
the Arabian inscriptions did.
existed in ancient times, it should have more archaeological findings than did
regions south and north of it, whose history is richly documented through
This lack of
mention of Mecca is especially interesting,
given the fact that Mecca was built on the
caravan routes between the kingdoms of Arabia,
and that these kingdoms had written historical records several centuries before
Christ. In fact, Mecca is built on what was the
famous commercial route between southern Arabia
and the northern Arabian cities of Qedar and Dedan. In addition, Mecca was built alongside the Red Sea
It is claimed by archaeologists that the Sabaeans of southwestern Arabia had utilized the skill of writing since the 10th
Inscriptions on rock formations in southwestern Yemen are among the richest
archaeological finds among Middle Eastern civilizations. Many thousands
of these ancient inscriptions are available to historians today. Most of these
inscriptions have survived without serious degradation, due to the small
amounts of rain in that area of the world.
In northern regions of Arabia, some hundreds of miles north of where Mecca was later built,
many cities had rich inscriptions carved in stone, and the inscriptions give us
the names of various dynasties which ruled those cities. Dedan and
Teima are examples of cities situated on famous trade routes. Located
north of what became the site of Mecca, their stone, rock and monumental
inscriptions are enough to reflect their history since the 8th or 7th century
What about Mecca?
Mecca was built on a location between the
documented civilizations (the Sabaeans, Dedan and Qedar), yet these
civilizations do not have any known inscriptions whatsoever which mention Mecca. Mecca,
if it had existed at the time of those civilizations, would have contained more
intact inscriptions than the civilizations which lived in the regions south of
it – for example, in Yemen.
The region around Mecca is known for its very
low amounts of rain, even compared with the other regions of Arabia.
The lands of Yemen have ten
times more rainfall than the area around Mecca.
Also, the cities of northern Arabia have much more rain than the region of Mecca. So, if Mecca existed several
centuries before Christ, then its inscriptions in stone and rock would have
been more intact than the thousands of inscriptions remaining from the cities
to the north and south of it .
Over the years, historians and archaeologists have identified a series of
rulers and kings for every Arabian kingdom before the 7th century B.C., and
continuing through subsequent centuries. Based on thousands of inscriptions and
other archaeological findings, historians have drawn tables listing the rulers,
and the kingdoms which they controlled. We find such tables in the works of K.
A. Kitchen, Von Wissmann and others.
Today, we can trace the history of each kingdom or city which existed in the
first millennium before Christ, and in the years that followed.
Although there are a few unattested names, for many locations we also can
easily connect the names of the rulers with their cities, using virtually
ARABIA IS ATTESTED TO IN ARCHAEOLOGY
The Cities of Qedar, Dedan and Teima
look first at northwest Arabia and the cities
of Qedar, Dedan and Teima. The series of rulers over some of the northern
cities of Arabia, such as Qedar, is almost completely documented as far back as
the 9th century B.C. Major contributing factors to this are the many
annals of the kings of Assyria and Babylonia who
had relationships with the Arabian cities. The Assyrian and Babyl-onian kings
traded with the cities of Arabia, and
sometimes subdued them or had wars with them. Some of the Mesopotamian kings who
occupied the cities of Qedar and Dedan had royal chronicles which provide
detailed information. For example, we have the Nabonidus Chronicle, a
history of the Babylonian king who occupied northern Arabia and made the city
of Teima his
residence for about ten years, from 550-540 B.C.
Some historical records were carved into bowls. We have one silver bowl
dedicated to the shrine, Han Ilat, on which we see the name of King
Qaynu of Qedar, who reigned between 430-410 B.C. Other records are provided by graffiti,
with writings on the walls, such as the Graffito of Niran at Dedan, at
al-Ula, where we find mention of Gashmu I, son of Shahr I, King of
This confirms the Biblical narration found in Nehemiah 6:6 about this king who
opposed Nehemiah in the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, after the Babylonian exile. In
fact, the Hebrew Biblical name for this king is Gashem, a variation of the name
Gashmu, who reigned from the Arabian city of Qedar
from 450-430 B.C.,
at the same time that Nehemiah returned from the Babylonian exile to rebuild
the walls of the city of Jerusalem.
We know that Nehemiah took a small contingent of Jews and returned to Palestine around the year
445 B.C. This is one of hundreds of historical proofs of the accuracy of the
When we put the records together, we have a series of fourteen kings and queens
who ruled in northern Arabia. Although
historians are uncertain about the period between 644-580 B.C., there are no
other gaps in the listing of rulers between 870-410 B.C.
The accuracy of inscriptions found at the archaeological
site of El-Ula, in the area of the ancient city of Dedan, was written in Minaean language.
It shows that the city was in subjection to the kings of Main.
Many of these kings who were mentioned in the inscriptions were identical to
the Minaean inscriptions of Yemen.
In the old ruins of Teima, there are many
inscriptions, showing the names of their gods, and their wars with other cities
and tribes in the region, including their wars with the city of Dedan. The moon in Teima
was represented by a crescent. In the inscriptions
of Teima, there is mention of a god called Lame'h. Lame'h is described as a
brilliant shining star. One of their deities is given the title of Rahim, whom I believe is the star deity, Lame'h. The same title is given to Allah in the Qur’an, which shows
that Islamic worship has its roots in ancient pagan Arabian worship.
The North Arabian Tribes
of Thamud, Lihyan and the Nabataeans are Richly Attested to in
I want to look at the Thamud tribe of north Arabia,
which appeared for the first time in the 8th century B.C. and continued until
the 5th century A.D. There are hundreds of Thamudic stone or rock
inscriptions found in many places in north Arabia
which tell about the life of the tribe, their deities and their
Second, we have the Lihyan kingdom of northern Arabia.
We have an abundance of records about this kingdom. With the exception of the
founder of the Lihyanite line, we have complete documentation of the
rulers and the periods in which they ruled; the inscriptions also chronicle
other important information about historical events concerning their reigns and
their gods. Some of these records are in royal monuments, statues, dedications,
tomb inscriptions, tomb-building texts, stone texts, and graffiti.
The founder of the Lihyan kingdom reigned approximately from 330-320 B.C.
Information concerning the kings which followed him is well-documented.
King Shahru II reigned between 320-305 B.C. The line ended with the tenth
king, Mas’udu, who reigned from 120-100 B.C. There are no historical gaps in
the inscriptions in this series.
The third kingdom we want to look at is the Nabataean Kingdom,
which penetrated into many regions of Hijaz. It has special importance in the
history of northern Arabia because it controlled the road used in the spice
trade which connected the south of Arabia with Syria and other Mediterranean
countries. This is the same route which passed through the region where Mecca was built in the 4th
century A.D. Records of the Nabataean
Kingdom are very
complete, both externally and internally. In the external records, historians
wrote about the Nabataeans. Some Jewish literature tells about them, and
other works have been found in various archaeological sites outside Nabataean
territories. Internally, an important means of identifying the rulers of
the Nabataean Kingdom are from their many coins. Also,
dedications of buildings, statues dedicated to kings, private and royal
monuments, and tomb inscriptions all provide historical text. The
inscriptions on tombs are abundant and are found in different sites, such as Petra, Madain Salih,
and other places. Based on these records, historians came to understand with
great detail about the series of rulers of the Nabataean Kingdom who ruled
after 175 B.C. Rulers before this date are still unknown, though there are many
records about the kingdom since the first stage of its dominion. With the
exception of the second ruler in the series from 175 B.C., other rulers of the
series are well-documented, starting from Aretas I, who ruled from175-150
B.C. until the twelfth (and last) ruler, Rabbel II, who reigned from 70-106
After examining all the records concerning the kingdoms and cities located
north of Mecca,
we conclude that the reigns of most of the rulers are well-documented. We know
about the wars in which they were engaged, and the names of their gods. Mecca is conspicuous by
its absence. Even though Muslims claim Mecca
dates back to the time of Abraham, not one record indicates its existence at
any time before Christ.
It is impossible to introduce a city like Mecca and claim that it has the longest life
in the history of Arabian cities, unless you have some record. In this case,
the region was well-documented, even for cities which lasted only a few
centuries. But, there was no record of any city called Mecca.
you notice that none of the kingdoms which were north of Mecca had been in existence before the 10th
century B.C.? Some of them, like the Lihyanite kingdom, first
appeared in the 4th century B.C. and disappeared near the end of the 2nd
century B.C. Some cities had limited roles in Arabian history. Many came
into existence after the 10th century B.C. and disappeared around the beginning
of the 4th century B.C. All of them had an abundance of records for most
of their existence, but none of these records mentions Mecca.
Muslim tradition would give an early and long life to Mecca, from before the time of Abraham, who
lived around 2080 B.C. If this claim were true, then there should be many more
archaeological records surviving for Mecca
than for any of the northern cities and kingdoms which we have examined. In
reality, there is not one known record mentioning the existence of Mecca, even for a small
time, before the time of Christ. We find this lack of historical records about Mecca, in spite of its
proximity to regions where, because of lack of rain, archaeological records
would not be eroded by water. We find this, in spite of Mecca supposedly existing in a region and
time where the historical existence of cities and kingdoms is documented in
more clarity than in any other place in the ancient world. There are very few
regions in Europe which have clear
documentation of their rulers as far back as the 1st millennium
B.C. One reason for this could be the weather conditions. Heavy European
rains tend to wash away valuable ancient inscriptions. This is in stark
contrast to the regions of dryer Arabia surrounding the location of Mecca, where the lines of
succession are well-documented. So, with these criteria, it is impossible to
claim that a city like Mecca would have existed
in Arabia throughout its ancient history,
without any mention of it in any of the known historical records of the region.
The real history in Arabia is abundantly
expressed by its records. It is impossible to introduce a city like Mecca into a history so
According to the Muslim claim, Mecca had the
longest existence of any major city in Arabia;
it is claimed to have existed as a major city since the 21st century
B.C., and well into the Christian era. It means Mecca existed, without historical mention, in
an area where even cities with a short existence are documented in the many
historical records of the region. Every city in the region has abundant
historical records, while Mecca
is silent. To claim Mecca’s
existence since the time of Abraham, without support of the historical record,
is not logical. The dating of the city of Mecca may sound like a simple thing, but it
should challenge Muslims today to ask if they are following other teachings
which are inaccurate, misleading and untruthful. It should also challenge
Muslims to read the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and to ask
themselves if what the Bible says about Jesus is true.
KINGDOMS AND CITIES SOUTH OF MECCA MAINTAINED PLENTY
OF HISTORICAL RECORDS
We refer the reader to the book of Dr. Amari, Islam in light
of History, for more arguments on the true history of Mecca.
we have examined the kingdoms and cities north of where Mecca was later built. We saw how some of these
kingdoms as far as 500-600 miles away maintained plenty of historical
records. What about the kingdoms and cities south of Mecca’s eventual location? The southwestern
portion of Arabia has even clearer records
than kingdoms to the north. In some cases, thousands of records, many of them
stone inscriptions, have been discovered. This makes southwestern Arabia one of the most abundant archaeological regions in
the world. In addition to stone inscriptions, writings have also been found on
royal and private monuments, building texts, decrees, dedications, temples, and
more. Based on such records, historians and archaeologists have followed
the succession of rulers for each kingdom and each city. In most cases, these
genealogies of the various rulers can be mapped without any gaps in the
The Rulers of the Kingdom of Main
A line of
rulers for the kingdom of Main, in southern Arabia,
starts with King Abkarib I, who reigned from 430-415 B.C. He began an
unbroken line of 26 rulers, which ended with Ilyara’ Yashur II. He reigned from
65-55 B.C. Their records include the names of many of the kings’ brothers and
sons who reigned alongside them. Consequently, we know for certain the names of
rulers of the kingdom
of Main for the time
between 430 and 55 B.C.
Small kingdoms south of where Mecca
was eventually built are documented with great accuracy in the ancient history
of Arabia, yet Mecca
has no records to support the Islamic claim about its ancient existence.
small kingdoms near the kingdom
of Main also have
documented royal lines with very few gaps. Some of these small kingdoms are
located close to where Mecca
was later built. These small kingdoms existed in the centuries before
Christ as modest, but not prominent, kingdoms. Yet, there are historical
and archaeological records which clearly testify about their existence and
their lines of kings.
These records present an obvious challenge to the claims that Mecca
existed in the centuries before Christ – because there are no such similar
records for Mecca.
This challenge to the existence of Mecca is
further supported by the fact which I emphasized previously: the lack of rain
in Arabia allows archaeological records to
remain intact for long periods of time. Therefore, no city or kingdom in
southern Arabia is left without a wealth of
inscriptions describing it. This is true, whether the kingdom had a short or
long existence, and whether it was modest or important in the region. The
inscriptions bring to light the nature of the cultures, the lines of rulers,
and the main wars and events in which the kingdoms were involved.
Let us look at some of the small kingdoms. First, there was the kingdom of Haram, which had a line of rulers
starting with King Yaharil in 600 B.C., and ending with King
Maadikarib Raydan, who ruled from 190-175 B.C. Next was the kingdom of Inabba.
Its most prominent ruler was King Waqahil Yafush, who reigned from 550-530 B.C. The kingdom of Kaminahu started
with King Ammiyitha, who reigned from 585-570 B.C. The line continued through eight more
documented rulers to King Ilisami II Nabat, who reigned between 495–475 B.C. Records show that this kingdom
flourished under the rule of Wahbu, son of Mas’ud, around 160-140 B.C.
Then there was the kingdom
of Nashan, whose first
documented ruler was King Ab’amar Saqid. He reigned around 760 B.C. Another line of three kings is
documented to have ruled between 520-480 B.C. The last of these three kings was
Yadi’ab Amir, who reigned between 500-480 B.C.
Thus, we see that there is substantial documentation of the chronology of these
kingdoms, even though they were small and had little influence when compared to
other kingdoms in the region. This shows that even small kingdoms near where Mecca was eventually built are documented with accuracy in
the ancient history of Arabia. Islamic
tradition claims that Mecca was a prestigious
and pre-eminent religious city throughout the history of Arabia.
The tradition also claims that this pre-eminence of Mecca extended back to even before the time
of Abraham. Yet there are no historical records regarding Mecca, similar to the examples above, which
can support these claims of the Islamic tradition. These claims about Mecca have absolutely no
support in the historical and archaeological record.
We Have an Amazing Amount
of Records for the Kingdom
our study doesn’t stop there. In the kingdom
of Qataban, we find more proof that Mecca did not exist
before Christ. This kingdom was located in southwestern Arabia.
We have amazing amounts of knowledge about the sequence of events and the name
of the rulers of this kingdom. There is line of 31 rulers whose reign started
in 330 B.C. and continued through the last ruler, Marthadum, who reigned at the
very end of the Qataban kingdom (150-160 A.D.). Historians have documented
all but two of these 31 rulers: they are numbers 2 and 27. This reflects the
completeness of the inscriptions and records of the kingdom of Qataban.
Himyar present a series of 102 kings which started in the 9th century B.C.
and ended in the 6th century A.D. This is a proof that Mecca did not exist in ancient times. If it
had existed, it should have had archaeological documentation for each
generation of its history.
more impressive than the kingdom of the north which we have studied, is the
kingdom of Saba and its successor in the region, the kingdom of Himyar.
Many archaeological records document a series of rulers, beginning with
Karibil A., who ruled around 860 B.C. The series continues with 31 Makrab.
The Makrab were kings who not only ruled Saba,
but other nearby regions. The last Makrab king was Yitha’a Amar Bayyin II, who
reigned between 360-350 B.C. Saba then lost control of its surrounding states,
and its rulers could no longer enjoy the title of Makrab, but were kings,
After the Makrab, the line of kings continued with number 32, Yadi’ubil Bayyin,
who reigned between 350-335 B.C. And the line goes on to number 55, a
king of Saba named Yada’il Dharih IV. He
reigned between 0–15 A.D. The kings of Saba
and Dhu-Radydan followed this series of rulers.
But the documentation doesn’t end here. We have continuing records of the kings
of Himyar and Saba. King Dhamar’alay Warar Yahan’ifm
was the 56th ruler in the series. He was followed by a line of kings which
ended with ruler number 79, the last king of Saba.
His name is Nasha’karib Yuhamin II Yuharhib, and he reigned between
Then the line of rulers shifts to the first king of the empire of Himyar, Yasir
Yuhan’im I, who reigned between 275-285 A.D. The kings of Himyar reigned over
the kingdoms of Saba, Himyar and other states
in the region. This series finally ends with Maadikarib III, who reigned
between 575-577 A.D. Maadikarib was ruler number 102 in a long series of kings
which covers a period of 1,437 years, starting in the 9th century B.C., just a
few decades before the Queen of Saba had visited Solomon, and ending
in the 6th century A.D.
A study of these kings has something significant to tell us. The abundance of records
over such a long period of time shows us that southern and western Arabia are
some of the most well-documented regions in the ancient world. We could not
document such a series of rulers for any European country in the 1st
millennium B.C. with the same degree of accuracy. Here we have a series
of kings in Yemen dating
back to the 9th century B.C., with very few gaps in the lines of documented
rulers, especially when we look at the long series of rulers in Saba and Himyar. Therefore, the claim that a central
religious city, like Mecca,
could have been present, without any records to substantiate it, is implausible
The Kingdom of Kinda, East
of Mecca, and
its Archaeological Records
looked at the north and south, now let’s come to the regions east of Mecca. We have the kingdom of Kinda,
which dominated central and northern Arabia.
The capital was Dhu-Kahilum, known today as Qaryat al-Fau, near the old city of
Yamama, about 500 miles from Mecca. The ancient site of Dhu-Kahilum is
abundant in archaeological findings from which we can discern important
information about the kings of Kinda and their wars. The first king was Rabi’a,
who ruled from 205 to 230 A.D. He is mentioned in the Sabaean inscriptions
as “King of Kinda and Kahtan.”
We know about the history of Kinda, particularly through inscriptions. For
example, in the year 290 A.D., Kinda lost its domain to the kingdom of Saba.
In fact, we read in Sabaean Inscriptions from Mahram Bilqis–Ma'rib,
the following statement about a Sabaean king: “Saadta Iab Yatlaf, descendant of
Gadanum, leader of the Arabs of the King of Saba and of Kindat ...”
It is illogical to claim that an ancient Mecca existed for 2,400 years without any
record in a region where every kingdom which existed in history has been
We see that
the closest cities to Mecca, whether in the north, south or east, are very well-documented
through archaeological findings which allow us to discover the history of the
region and a majority of the names of the rulers. With such complete records
from kingdoms located less than 500 miles from the location of Mecca, we see that no city could have
possibly existed in that area without leaving at least some records behind to
tell us its history. To claim that Mecca existed in the region for at least
2,400 years, from the time of Abraham until the 4th century A.D., without any record, would be
inconsistent with everything that has been recorded by archaeologists. Not only
do Greek and Roman geographers and historians fail to mention Mecca, but the archaeologists of ancient Arabia
exclude its existence prior to the 4th century A.D. How, then, can we insert
Abraham and monotheism into Mecca if it did not
exist, not just in one period, but also in all periods of Arabia?
Yet, Muslims around the world believe that Abraham and his son, Ishmael,
founded a temple in Mecca.
No one can rewrite history, trying to convince humanity of things which he
claims happened over a land or region, whose history already has been written
by historians and attested to by archaeologists.
ARCHAEOLOGY OF EASTERN ARABIA NEGATES THE IDEA OF AN ANCIENT MECCA
The history of ancient cities in eastern and western
Arabia which existed for many millennia before Christ, and even date back
to the time of Abraham, have abundant archaeological findings which unveil
their history. Yet, they also prove that Mecca,
without any such record, could not have existed during Abraham’s lifetime.
Arabia has a well-documented history, and it is intimately tied to ancient
Mesopotamia, which is present-day Iraq. The history of eastern
Arabia, which includes the Persian Gulf coastal region, is totally independent
of western Arabia, mainly because eastern and western Arabia are separated by
two huge desert regions: Ar’ Rub’ al-khali in the south and An
Nafud in the north. We find no communication in ancient history between eastern
and western Arabia. We have many
archaeological findings in the Persian Gulf region which help us understand the
history of eastern Arabia and its relationship
to Mesopotamian dynasties, which existed several millennia before Christ. We
have also learned about eastern Arabia’s
golden periods of self-dominion. For help in dating the archaeological findings
of eastern Arabia, we have the chronology of the events in Mesopotamia.
the most important ancient kingdoms of eastern Arabia was Dilmun, which ruled
over the land in what is present-day Bahrain. In many epochs, Dilmun’s
control extended over most of the Persian Gulf
region. Dilmun has flourished since 3000 B.C., due to its trade with the Indus
valley (India and Pakistan) and Mesopotamia.
Archaeological findings, such as pottery and other wares, tell us that ancient
eastern Arabian civilizations are as old as ancient Mesopotamian civilizations.
Contacts between Dilmun and Mesopotamia are documented from the 4th millennium
through the 3rd millennium B.C. Sumerian and Akkad inscriptions
also mention Dilmun throughout early history. The Dilmun
Kingdom, especially in what is now Bahrain,
has many archaeological sites abundant in findings which allow us, with help
from the Mesopotamian inscriptions, to discover valuable information about the
history of Dilmun. Scholars can attest to a line of Dilmun kings which began in
1800 B.C. Although the first king is unnamed, there are three kings documented
in the line, with their names, between 1470-1320 B.C. Then the series appears
again in 720 B.C. with King Uperi and continues with attested kings until
the occupation of Dilmun by the Babylonian Nabonidus. Nabonidus appointed a
governor over Dilmun between 550-540 B. C.
The occupation of the land
of Dilmun by the
Assyrians, Babylonians, Greek and Persians is attested to by the local
archaeological findings, and by outside inscriptions.
important kingdom in eastern Arabia is Magan, the present location of Oman. From the
Sumerian city of Ur
we have inscriptions concerning Magan, dated somewhere between 2800-2500 B.C.
We have additional Magan inscriptions from the Akkadic period which began
with Sargon, the person who first conquered Sumerian states in Iraq. He
established the Akkad Empire around 2340 B.C. Inscriptions of King Sargon
mentioned that Sargon “caused ships from Meluhha (Pakistan), ships from Magan and ships from
Dilmun to moor at quay of Agade.”
Magan extended from Oman,
across the Straits of Hormuz, into part of Iran,
and also extended north toward what is now the United
Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf.
There are many archaeological sites in Oman
and the United Arab Emirates
which furnish much data about the kingdom
of Magan. Internal
archaeological data with external inscriptions have provided scholars with
valuable information. For example, there were three kings in Magan. The first
was King Manitan, who ruled around 2240 B.C., 150 years before Abraham.
The second was an unnamed king who ruled around 2060 B.C., and the third was
King Nadubeli, who ruled around 2043 B.C. I mention these three
kings because they were contemporaries of the patriarchs, especially Abraham
and his sons. This is a significant finding, proving that the ancient
civilizations in Arabia, at the time of
Abraham and prior to his time, are not just names, but actually existed. Their
ruins have remained as testimony to their presence in eastern Arabia, just like
the ruins of other civilizations in the region of Mesopotamia.
The ruins of these civilizations are a testimony to their existence, not just
since the time of Abraham, but for thousands of years before Abraham, as we saw
in the case of the civilizations of Dilmun and Magan.
As we have seen, even the names of kings of these civilizations are documented
as far back as the time of Abraham, and his sons and grandchildren. As for Mecca, which is claimed
by Muslims to be present at the same time as these civilizations, there are no
known archaeological or historical records to vindicate such a claim.
The archaeology of Mesopotamia and Eastern Arabia demonstrates
that western Arabia was unknown to the inhabitants of Mesopotamia and Eastern Arabia. How could Abraham, the inhabitant of Ur in Iraq,
go to a place unknown in his time?
the case of Dilmun in eastern Arabia, we
see clear archaeological records of kings and related events dating from as far
back as the 3rd millennium B.C., until its Islamic occupation
in the 7th century A.D. On the other hand, in central western Arabia, where Mecca was eventually
built, there is no record of any civilization until several centuries after the
time of Christ, as we have seen from our study of the classical geographers and
writers. The fact is that nobody in the ancient world recorded the existence of
any civilization at the time of Abraham in western Arabia.
The huge deserts which separate eastern Arabia from western Arabia
were not crossable by humans at the time of Abraham. This made western Arabia a
complete mystery to the inhabitants of eastern Arabia and Mesopotamia
at that time. This case is similar to the way Europeans thought about what lay
beyond the Atlantic Ocean before the Columbus
Not only was western Arabia unaware of eastern Arabia, but it was also
unknown to the people of Mesopotamia at the
time of Abraham. You may remember from the Bible that Mesopotamia
is where Abraham lived before he was called by God to set out for the Promised
We have many inscriptions in the history of Mesopotamia about the Persian Gulf
region in the east, including the Sumerian and Akkadic periods and
their control of Abraham’s home, the city of Ur
But we don’t have any records coming from Mesopotamia about central western
Arabia, where Mecca
was eventually built. The first historical records to mention western Arabia
were about Yemen, located in
southwestern Arabia. Yemen records have
been found in Egyptian inscriptions from around the 14th century B.C., which
was seven centuries after Abraham. Archaeological inscriptions in Mesopotamia,
including Ur, the city of Abraham,
make no mention of Yemen
until the 8th century B.C. Then Assyrian inscriptions mention the king of
Saba-Yemen, presenting tribute to the Assyrian king, Sargon II. This
demonstrates that even Yemen,
the oldest civilization of southwestern Arabia, was unknown in Mesopotamia at the time of Abraham. No Mesopotamian records
at any time in ancient history mention the central western region of Arabia
along the coast of the Red Sea. Why is there a
lack of information about central western Arabia, where Mecca was eventually built? Simply
because this region was completely uninhabited until the 3rd century B.C., when
the trade routes of Yemen
along the Red Sea began to flourish. Western Arabia, during the time of Abraham, was an
unexplored area, and no known expeditions were made into it.
In addition to the historical events
which we have been examining, there is an interesting novel written during that
period. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written in the city of Uruk, in Mesopotamia, around the year 2000 B.C., about 100
years after the time Abraham lived in Ur, one of
the main cities in Mesopotamia. The setting
for the Epic of Gilgamesh gives us some insight into life in Mesopotamia. Hommel, a scholar commenting on the ninth
canto of the Epic of Gilgamesh, says:
We are told how Gilgamesh set out for the land of Mashu in
central Arabia, the gate of which was guarded by legendary scorpion-like men;
hence, perhaps, the name “land of darkness” is applied to Arabia
in early Hebrew annals.
For 12 miles the hero had to make his way
through dense darkness. At length he came to an enclosed space by the seashore
where dwelt the virgin goddess, Sabitu, who tells him that “no one since
eternal days has ever crossed the sea, save Shamash, the hero. Difficult
is the crossing, and extremely dangerous the way, and closed are the waters of
death which bolt its entrance. How then, Gilgamesh, wilt thou cross the
understand from this epic, which came from the time of Abraham and the
civilization of Mesopotamia, that men were not able to go into central Arabia
because of “the gate of which was guarded by legendary scorpion-like men,” and
nobody succeeded in crossing the waters that led to southwestern Arabia. So, western Arabia was an enigma to the
inhabitants of Uruk and Ur (where Abraham
lived), and no one had crossed to western Arabia
before. If this were the case for Yemen,
in southwestern Arabia, then it would be even more true in central western
Arabia, the area where Mecca
was built, which was not known in any Mesopotamian literature in any time.
If the area of Mashu, toward central
Arabia, was an enigma for the Mesopotamians, and no one crossed this region,
then west Arabia was non-existent for the inhabitants of Mesopotamia.
How could a man like Abraham, who came from the city of Ur
(which was one of the most civilized cities in the fertile land of Mesopotamia)
leave Palestine to go into the deserts of Arabia to build a sanctuary in a place where no man in
his time had ever gone to live? It’s like imagining that Napoleon went to
the North Pole to build a church before anyone had yet reached the North Pole.
Or, like imagining Napoleon reaching the top of Mount Everest to build a
resting place there, when we know that the top of Mount
Everest wasn’t even known to him. In the same way, claiming
that a civilization in Yemen
was in contact with kingdoms in Palestine
at the time of Abraham is something we know could not have been true. The first
kingdom in Yemen
originated in the 14th century B.C., seven centuries after Abraham. Cities
along the Yemeni trading route by the Red Sea, through central western Arabia, didn’t exist in the time of Abraham. These cities
came into existence after Yemen
began trading with Israel
In addition, we learned previously that Mecca
was one of the later cities to be built by tribes from Yemen, several
centuries after Christ.
The life of Abraham, as recorded by Moses, showed the desire of
the patriarch to go to Egypt
at the time of a famine which occurred in Palestine,
and not in deserted and unknown places in his time, such as western Arabia.
Let us look at the history of Abraham, as revealed in the
Bible. Abraham was a citizen of Ur of South Mesopotamia, who lived in one
of the most fertile and civilized lands of the 21st century B.C. When a
famine came to Canaan, Abraham did what any
civilized man might do. He didn’t choose to travel to a land which was inferior
to his homeland; instead he traveled to Egypt. Why? Because, at that time, Egypt was the
only civilization which could compete with his homeland. Because of the Nile
River, Egypt had an abundance of water and was known for its advanced
civilization. After the famine ended, Abraham returned to Canaan,
the beautiful land which God had promised to give to him and the descendants of
Isaac as an inheritance. Abraham preferred the Egyptian civilization, even
if it meant leaving Canaan. How, then, could
he consider traveling to an unknown desert such as western Arabia, and the
eventual location of Mecca?
The patriarchs who lived close to Abraham never mentioned a
journey of Abraham to the unknown desert of western Arabia during
his time. Neither any of the inspired prophets of the Bible, nor any
literature of Abraham’s descendants, mentioned such a journey.
the sake of argument, let’s assume Abraham would have chosen western Arabia. Why wouldn’t his descendants mention this
historic journey? They recorded the rest of Abraham’s life in great detail,
from the point when he began his journey to the Promised Land. Why would they
omit something as important as this?
We know that Moses wrote about Abraham’s life in great detail. How could
Moses have missed such a significant journey and fail to mention the Muslim
claim that Abraham built a temple in Mecca?
How could all the other prophets of Israel also be silent about such a
significant event if it had actually occurred? Why don’t we find any clue
to such a journey of Abraham anywhere in the ancient Hebrew writings? If
Abraham had visited the desert, where Mecca
was later built in the 4th century A.D., he would
have been a pioneer. His descendants would have boasted of such an
accomplishment through the prophets, historians and other writers. The temple
at Mecca would
have been a place of pilgrimage for the descendants of Isaac and Jacob
because of the importance of Abraham as the father of their faith. Yet, we don’t
see anyone in Israel, from
the time of Moses through the prophets, traveling in search of a religious
temple in Arabia or making a pilgrimage to Mecca.
To illustrate my point, let’s suppose the people of Alaska would claim that Shakespeare had
lived among them and built a temple there. To prove such a claim, Alaskans
would have to depend on historical evidence, not some claim made by a religious
writer, or the testimony of someone who had lived many centuries after
Shakespeare. The only authoritative source would be English history, since
there are no documented writings of the Alaskan people at the time of
Shakespeare which speak of a visit by Shakespeare to their land. As it is,
English history has a complete account of the famous English poet, and it doesn’t
mention a visit to Alaska.
Therefore, we would conclude that historical resources confirm that Shakespeare
never visited Alaska.
The same is true in establishing if Abraham ever visited western Arabia. With the absence of documented writings in Arabia
at the time of Abraham, mentioning a visit by Abraham, then it is logical that
we look at all the writings of his descendants in Israel since the time of Moses.
Nowhere is there any mention about this claim of Islam that Abraham visited Mecca and built a temple
there. Therefore, we can see that Islamic claims about Mecca existing in the 21st century B.C., and
Abraham building its temple, are fanciful and mistaken notions inserted into
history. After examining the evidence, no intelligent and honest person would
accept these Islamic claims.
Basing their religion on a false historical assertion, which is contradictory
to true world history, is something Muslims should renounce. Muslims should be
encouraged to stop trusting their eternal destiny to a religion which depends
upon such enormous mistakes.
Mecca in Archaeological Records Found in the
Other Ancient Cities
and Kingdoms of Arabia
Although kingdoms and civilizations at the time of Abraham were
few, and their inscriptions prove that they were well-known to each other, none
of them mentions Mecca.
we discussed an important argument refuting the Islamic claim that Mecca has existed in Arabia
since the time of Abraham. We saw that each civilization which appeared in Arabia left significant archaeological findings, proving
its presence. Yet no such evidence can be found for Mecca before the 5th century A.D. We will now
discuss another important archaeological argument against the idea of an
ancient Mecca – namely, the absence of Mecca in archaeological records found in the other ancient
cities and kingdoms of Arabia.
Abraham lived during the 21st century B.C. If Mecca
had existed at the time of Abraham, it definitely would have been represented
in the detailed inscriptions of the civilizations of eastern Arabia, such as
inscriptions which come from the kingdoms of Dilmun and Magan, also called
Furthermore, if Mecca were present in the 21st
century B.C., it would have been the only kingdom to exist in western Arabia at that time. For thousands of years, Magan
was known for its trade with Mesopotamia and the Indus
Valley, which is modern-day India and Pakistan. Dilmun was known to have
rich commerce with Asia, bringing its products to Mesopotamia
as far back as 1,000 years before the time of Abraham. If Mecca
had existed when Abraham lived, it would have been an important market for
Magan and Dilmun trade, but no mention is made of Mecca in their inscriptions.
We also know that southwestern Arabian civilizations began to appear in Yemen in the 13th century B.C., causing us to
conclude that no civilizations existed for Magan and Dilmun to trade
with in western Arabia at the time of
Abraham. Kingdoms and civilizations in the region at the time of Abraham were
few, and were all known to each other. The kingdoms which appeared in Mesopotamia were known to each other and to the rest of
Middle Eastern civilizations as far back as 3,000 B.C. Many inscriptions of the
eastern Arabian kingdoms, such as Magan (Oman)
and Dilmun, have been found which prove the claim that they were aware of these
other Middle Eastern civilizations, such as those in Mesopotamia.
If Mecca had existed in the time of Abraham, it would have been
impossible for civilizations in Eastern Arabia, some of which continued more
than 3,000 years, not to have been aware of another old city which would have existed
parallel to them in the western part of Arabia during all these thousands of
is difficult to justify such a long span of time, from 3,000 B.C. to the
3rd century A.D., without any of these eastern Arabian
kingdoms mentioning a city like Mecca
in their inscriptions. To continue to claim that Mecca existed in ancient
times, in spite of the evidence shown, is like claiming that the royal
dynasties of northern Egypt had never heard of the royal dynasties of southern
Egypt during thousands of years of history. In reality, the inscriptions found
in northern Egypt are full
of information about southern Egypt,
and vice versa. This supports our claim that Mecca was not built until after the 3rd
century A.D. It’s unreasonable to claim that two civilizations, existing in the
same geographical region (e.g., India,
Egypt, Mesopotamia, China)
for several millennia, would never have heard of each other, and would never
have made mention of each other in inscriptions or other archaeological
records. How could Arabia be an
exception? How could Mecca have existed in
western Arabia and been totally unknown to eastern Arabia
for at least 2,400 years?
ABSENCE OF MECCA
IN THE INSCRIPTIONS OF OTHER ARABIAN REGIONS
till now, we have been looking at eastern Arabian civilizations. Now let’s turn
our attention to the civilizations of northern, southern and central Arabia.
It is significant that we find inscriptions from the various Arabian kingdoms
and cities mentioned in the inscriptions of other Arabian kingdoms and cities
co-existing at the same time.
Absence of Mecca
in the Yemeni Inscriptions
I mentioned previously, the Yemeni archaeological inscriptions are among the
richest discoveries in the Middle East. In
them we discover much information about their kings, wars and historical
events. In addition, we learn a great deal about the surrounding civilizations
in Arabia, and beyond.
From Yemeni inscriptions, we find a significant amount of information about the
various kingdoms of southern Arabia. For
example, Kinda was a kingdom in central Arabia located about 500 miles
from where Mecca
was later built. It is well-represented in the Yemeni inscriptions. Likewise,
the northern Arabian cities of Qedar and Dedan, which are north of today’s
Mecca, are also
richly represented in the Yemeni inscriptions. They confirm the commercial
relationships which existed between the Yemeni kingdoms, and the Arabian cities
and kingdoms east and north of Mecca’s
Even the city of Yathrib,
also called Medina,
is represented in the Yemeni inscriptions. As an example, the
Sabaean inscriptions report the dedication of female slaves in a Sabaean
temple. According to the inscriptions, the slaves were from Gaza, Yathrib, Dedan and Egypt. So, if
Yathrib (also called Medina), which did not exist before the 6th century B.C.,
is represented in the Yemeni inscriptions, how could Mecca have been in
existence during the time of Abraham and never be found in any Yemeni
inscription, even though Mecca is closer to Yemen than Yathrib is to Yemen?
We also find significant mention of the kingdoms of Axum and
Habashat in the Yemeni inscriptions. These kingdoms existed in the region
of Ethiopia to the west
of Mecca, across the Red
Sea. We find more information in the Yemeni
inscriptions about kingdoms situated to the north, east and west of the
location where Mecca
was eventually built. Yet, with all this rich detail, we still don’t find any
Yemeni inscription mentioning Mecca.
Once again, if Mecca were a major city in Arabia before the 4th century A.D., as
Muslims claim, it would have been mentioned in the Yemeni inscriptions even
more than any of the other Arabian and Ethiopian kingdoms to which I have
Proximity is also important. If it existed at all, Mecca
would have been closer to Yemen
than any of the other kingdoms mentioned. For the Yemeni inscriptions to simply
skip over Mecca
is something that cannot be justified or explained logically. It would be like
the Romans mentioning Spain
and Britain in their
chronicles, but failing to mention France,
which is far closer to Rome
than these two countries. It’s illogical to claim, without any archaeological
evidence or support, that Mecca, which would
have bordered on Yemeni territory, was a dominant city in the ancient history
of Arabia before the 4th century A.D.
Absent in the Inscriptions of the Northern Cities of Arabia
we look at the inscriptions found in northern Arabian cities, such as Dedan, we
see the same phenomena. Their inscriptions reveal aspects of their own history
and mention civilizations of western and southern Arabia.
For example, we find mention of some of the kings of the Main Yemeni kingdom of
southern Arabia in the inscriptions of the northern Arabian city of Dedan.
There is plenty of information about the western and southwestern Arabian
kingdoms found in the northern cities’ inscriptions, yet we don’t find Mecca mentioned at all –
even though it would be closer to the northern cities than the southern and
western Arabian kingdoms which I mentioned. In light of this evidence, the Islamic
tradition to claim that Mecca has been a major
Arabian city since the 21st century B.C. is like Rome
existing in Italy
for centuries, but seeing no mention of it in any Italian inscriptions. In
is the most-mentioned city in the ancient Italian inscriptions. The same logic
holds true with the city of Athens in Greece, and Babel
in Mesopotamia. So it would also be with Mecca, if the claims about Mecca from the Islamic tradition were true.
We have seen previously that some Muslims claim that Ptolemy’s mention of a
city called Macoraba is actually a reference to Mecca. We have already proven, with Ptolemy’s
longitudinal and latitudinal system, that Macoraba is not Mecca
but, instead, a small settlement in Yemen,
south of the old Yemeni city of Carna in
the 2nd century A.D. To cling to such a claim as proof of Mecca’s existence as a
major city since the time of Abraham is inadequate and illogical. So, to claim
that Mecca has continually existed in Arabia since the time of Abraham, in spite of all the
evidence to the contrary, is inconsistent and illogical. It is a
ridiculous claim. The truth is that clear archaeological and historical facts
cannot be reinterpreted or ignored in order to support a claim which is
inconsistent with archaeology and history.
Once again, we see the witness of history confirming our research which shows
that Mecca was
built long after Muslims claim it was.
Absence of Mecca Through Studying the Records of the Nations who Occupied the
absence of Mecca prior to the 4th
century A.D. is a verifiable conclusion based upon the documented history and
ruins of the many ancient civilizations which inhabited northern and central
western Arabia, the region where Mecca
was eventually built. Northern and central western Arabia was occupied by
many nations throughout history, but nowhere in their chronicles do we find
inscriptions and archaeological findings with any mention of Mecca.
The Kingdom of Ma’in’s
Ma'in kingdom expanded to the north, colonizing regions and cities, but
there is no mention of Mecca in their
inscriptions, even though Mecca
would have been the closest city to them.
Ma'in is among the kingdoms which colonized northern Arabia. It expanded from Yemen,
in southwestern Arabia, to the north through
their commercial colonies. These colonies facilitated their trade with Syria and Palestine.
Ma'in’s colonies in northern Arabia were in
existence from the Achaemenid era, which began around 559 B.C. In their
northward colonization, the Minaeans occupied the northern Arabian city of
had a Minaean dynasty of kings or rulers and left a great collection of
inscriptions. Minaean inscriptions are scattered in many places across northern
Arabia. Minaean inscriptions were found
at the site of al-Jawf, near the border with Iraq.  Minaean inscriptions are also scattered
in the commercial colonies which the Minaeans established in Tran-Jordan.
Minaean inscriptions were found in Jabal Ramm, about twenty miles from Aqaba. There was a very well-known colony in
the city of Maan, bearing their Minaean name,
which is located in the south of Jordan. Clearly, the Minaeans
occupied Hijaz (north and central western Arabia)
for a long period of time. As we think about it, we ask ourselves how
those Minaean people who occupied Hijaz could neglect the city of Mecca, for they would have encountered it on the trip
between Yemen and northern Arabia. If Mecca had
existed at the time the Minaeans colonized the cities of the north, then it
would have been important for them to subdue and colonize Mecca
in order to protect their trade route through central Arabia.
Mecca would have been a convenient city in which
caravans could rest while traveling through the desert, and would have been
located on the most direct route between Yemen
and the cities of northern Arabia. But Minaean
caravans encountered no such settlement of any kind in the region where Mecca was eventually
built. Instead, caravans traveled a longer route toward the interior of Arabia,
reaching the city of Yathrib, and then the
city of Dedan.
Lihyan Occupied the
Area Without Mentioning Mecca
another tribe which controlled northwestern Arabia.
Their kings ruled from the city of Dedan and
controlled the trade routes of northwestern Arabia.
Lihyan also controlled Hegra, which is also called “Madain Salih,”
extending its control south toward the central western regions of Arabia. Yet, we don’t find any inscriptions or other
mentions of Mecca
among the abundant Lihyanite literature.
Mas’udu, who ruled over Dedan from around 120-100 B.C., was the last king
of Lihyan, according to the inscriptions of Dedan.
The Nabataean Domain
The Nabataeans colonized along the land route toward
the south including the desert of central western Arabia where Mecca was eventually
Nabataeans expanded toward the south and occupied the territory held by
the Lihyan kingdom. Their inscriptions in north Arabia continued to be written till the beginning of the
4th century A.D. 
The Nabataeans played an important part in the history of the region. From
the Roman Expedition into Arabia in 24 and 23 B.C., we know that the village of Leuce Come,
on the Red Sea, was under the control of the
Nabataeans at the time of the expedition. Strabo, the Greek geographer who
accompanied the expedition, recorded that the control of the
Nabataeans extended south to Leuce Come. In fact, he mentioned another
region governed by Aretas who was related to Obodas, the king of the
The Nabataean influence didn’t stop there. Strabo referred to “a
village in the territory controlled by Obodas;” that village was Egra,
close to the Red Sea, about 62 miles from Malathan. Obodas was a Nabataean king, and
Malathan, as we saw previously, was a port very close to where Mecca was later built.
Strabo also reported on the size of the Nabataean caravans which came from Yemen, passing through Leuce Come on their way
to Petra, the
capital of the Nabataeans. Strabo wrote that these caravans traveled in such
numbers that “men and camels differed in no respect from an army.” Strabo’s comments reveal that the
Nabataeans, who controlled northwestern Arabia and parts of central western Arabia at
the time of the Roman Expedition, used to guard their caravans all the way to Yemen as they traveled the land route along
the Red Sea.
Another ancient historian, Pliny, speaks about how the
Nabataeans controlled the land route “through the Nabataean Troglodytae,
a colony of the Nabataeans.”
This deserted segment of land in north and central Arabia lies opposite to the Troglodytic Land
across the Red Sea on the African shore,
confirming that the Nabataeans colonized along the land route toward the
south. They controlled the central western Arabian desert, including the
area where Mecca
eventually was built.
built on the heavily-traveled land route which was walked centuries before
by the Nabataeans, yet the Nabataeans did not mention Mecca, even though they repeatedly mentioned
the smaller cities under their control.
the abundance of Nabataean inscriptions, and other archaeological
findings, how could the Nabataeans have failed to mention a city like Mecca? Especially
since it was claimed that Mecca
was built along their heavily-traveled land routes in a territory which they
controlled. Since the Nabataeans wrote in their inscriptions about even the
smallest and most insignificant places under their control, how could they have
For a nation’s long historical records to neglect one city, when it repeatedly
mentions the few villages and smaller cities under its control, is something
Kinda controlled central western Arabia.
The study of their inscriptions excludes that Mecca existed during the 2nd and 3rd
only did the Nabataeans control Hijaz, but there were other nations in
Arabia who, at one time or another controlled the region located in
northwestern and central Arabia, where Mecca
was eventually built. One of these kingdoms was Kinda, which formed a
confederacy in central Arabia. Kinda, at
times, dominated Hijaz, including the deserts where Mecca was later built. Through
its inscriptions, the documented history of Kinda dates as far back as
the 2nd century A.D. Their capital, Qaryat al-Fau, was located just 500 miles
east of Mecca, near the city of Yamama. There is no
mention of Mecca in their inscriptions, further
supporting our conclusion that Mecca
did not exist in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.
The inscriptions of the Himyarites, who occupied the area where Mecca was later built, confirm that Mecca did not exist during the 3rd
kingdom to occupy Hijaz was the Himyar kingdom from Yemen, which
started around 115 B.C. In 275 A.D., Himyar occupied Saba,
and afterward it expanded northward toward the land of the Carnaites. Himyar controlled the land route,
then enforced its authority over most of Hijaz.
In spite of the abundance of Himyarite inscriptions, Mecca
again is missing, suggesting that Mecca
did not exist at the end of the 3rd century A.D. or at the beginning of the 4th
It is illogical that all the nations who occupied central
western Arabia would overlook Mecca,
if it existed when these nations existed.
we look at these facts, we come to the same conclusion which we reached as we
examined the narrations of classical writers and others such as Ethiopians,
Coptics and Christians. Mecca is missing in
all the inscriptions and archaeological records of the Arabian nations who
occupied Hijaz, or who controlled the land route where Mecca was eventually
built. This means that Mecca
did not exist prior to the 4th century A.D. It is an assertive fact. All
nations which occupied central western Arabia were
known for their numerous inscriptions. None of these nations failed to record a
city in the area where they also mentioned smaller villages. So how can all of
these nations have missed Mecca,
which is closer to each of them than other small cities and villages which they
recorded? It’s as though all the kingdoms in a land like Mesopotamia would fail
to record the city of Babel.
No one would accept this, because an ancient city of importance would have been
evident, and impossible to exclude in the inscriptions of the kingdoms which
occupied its territory. It would appear in their inscriptions, not only once
from one nation, but hundreds of times in the inscriptions of each nation which
occupied its territory, or even nations with which it came in contact.
Therefore, our Muslim friends should learn from the archaeology of the nations
surrounding Arabia, even the archaeology of
all countries of the world. How much proof is required to support the claim
that a specific city existed 2,000 years before Christ? What are the
archaeological conditions needed to make that claim acceptable? Especially in
conditions like Arabia, where the area of Mecca was surrounded by kingdoms who
occupied Hijaz in various eras, and whose archaeology and history are
documented as well as, or better than, the surrounding countries of the Middle
East. Mecca, if it existed, should surely
have had a prominent place in history. But it did not. It should be the
apparent reference and the essential base of its archaeology in all ages and
RECORDS OF THE GREAT NATIONS WHO OCCUPIED CENTRAL WESTERN ARABIA, AND THE
ISLAMIC CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF MECCA
The Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Romans all had
ancient empires which occupied northern and central western Arabia.
None of them mentioned the existence of Mecca.
great empires throughout history annexed parts of Arabia and, in particular, northwestern
and central western Arabia. Interest in
this desolate area was primarily due to its strategic location on the trading
routes between the Far East and the
Mediterranean regions. Trade from the Far East crossed the Indian Ocean to
ports in southern Arabia. The trading routes
then proceeded across western Arabia toward Middle Eastern countries which lay
along the Mediterranean. From these, trade
reached the rest of the Mediterranean region. This made control of the area
essential to ancient empires.
A secondary reason empires wanted to annex northwestern and central western Arabia was for their own protection. Tribal
confederations from northern and anterior Arabia
were known for frequent attacks on their neighbors. Annexations provided
a buffer between the great empires and the hostile tribes of Arabia.
A third reason for interest in northwestern and central Arabia
was the presence of gold and other important minerals. The region of central
Arabia called Yamama, about 500 miles east of where Mecca was later built, was famous for its
gold and copper mines. Arabia was also known for copper mines in Oman.
The Assyrian Control
an expert scholar of Arabian history, maintains that the Assyrians extended
their control over Yamama in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. He identified
locations which are referenced in the Assyrian inscriptions which tell
about Assyrian wars against Arabian tribes. Of particular interest was King
Assurbanipal’s campaign south of the cities of Teima and Khaybar.
The Assyrian inscriptions are significant because many describe Arabian tribes,
rulers and cities. These inscriptions are very important, for they are based on
first-hand knowledge which the Assyrians gained during their occupation of the
area during the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. It is assumed that the Assyrian
control reached south to near the area where Mecca was built; yet, we don’t see
any mention in the Assyrian inscriptions about Mecca or the tribes, such as the
Jurhum tribe, which Islamic tradition claims inhabited Mecca as far back
as the time of Abraham.
Assyrian inscriptions mention more than one king of Saba who controlled Yemen. We are
told that the kings of Saba gave tribute to Assyrian kings as a symbol of
cooperation in the land trading route which reached the Fertile Crescent,
including: Mesopo-tamia, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Trans-Jordan, extending
from the borders of Iraq and Iran to the Mediterranean Sea.
Once again, since the Assyrian inscriptions fail to mention Mecca,
we can only conclude that Mecca
did not exist between the 9th and 7th centuries B.C., or it would have
been mentioned in the records.
The Babylonian Occupation
Nabonidus occupied the cities of the region close to where Mecca was eventually
built. Although he lived for ten years in Teima, he never mentioned Mecca.
only did the Assyrians occupy northern and central Arabia,
but so did the Babylonians. They occupied these portions of Arabia during the
reign of Nabonidus, the king of Babylon,
who reigned from 556-539 B.C. Information about this king and his occupation is
found in the Harran Inscriptions (known as H2), Nabonidus and the Royal
Chronicles, and the so-called Verse Account of Nabonidus.
Nabonidus left the empire to the control of his son, Belshazzar, and
Nabonidus traveled to the Arabian city of Teima.
Once there, he killed its king, occupied the city, made Teima his residence, and
built a palace.
From The Harran Inscriptions of Nabonidus, we know that during his
sojourn in Teima, Nabonidus went further south to conquer the cities of Dedan,
Fadak, Khaybar, Yadi and Yathrib (which is the Medina). The city of Yathrib,
about 200 miles from Mecca’s
eventual location, later played an important part in the rise of Islam.
Since Nabonidus controlled the whole region, he was assured of dominating
all three land routes from Yathrib. Though he controlled the whole region, he
does not mention Mecca
in the inscriptions he left behind. If Mecca
had existed in his time, it would have been an important target for his
attacks, because it would have been the only city in the region around Yathrib
which was not under his control ( see Fig. 4).
If Mecca were
the influential city Islamic tradition claims, it would have been an even more
important target than the other cities which
Nabonidus conquered. So why would he conquer all the other
cities in the region, many of which were less important than Mecca,
and fail to even mention Mecca?
There should have still been some mention of it, since he ruled in the area for
ten years and reached the other cities nearest its location. This shows that Mecca did not exist in
the area around the 6th century B.C.
The Persian Occupation
The Persians occupied many parts of Arabia and had alliances
with tribes and states, but Mecca
is absent in their records.
the Babylonians, the same area came under the control of the Persians. An
examination of inscriptions found near Dedan show that they subjugated
northern Arabia in the Achaemenid period
at the end of the 6th century B.C. The Persians also appointed a governor to
oversee Dedan. This occurred before the Lihyanite kings dominated the
cities of Qedar and Dedan, and some other regions in northwestern Arabia.
In the 5th century B.C., Herodotus, the Greek historian, tells us that
the Persians made alliances with the Arabians. Centuries later, the Persians
occupied the region of Oman at
the time of the writing of the The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. I previously mentioned that the
date of the writing of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea was about 62
A.D. In fact, in the 1st century A.D., the whole Persian Gulf area,
including Oman, was under
the Parthian empire, a ruling dynasty of old Iran
(Persia). The land
of Jerra, near the Persian
Gulf, became Persian territory around 320 A.D. Today, Jerra
is known as al-Qatif.
The Persians made alliances with many Arabian tribes. Among them was the tribe
of Kinda, which once extended its domain over central Arabia and part of
Hadramaut, south of Yemen,
in South Arabia. The Persians held mines in
Yamama, even up until the time of Mohammed. Yamama was the area where
Kinda’s capital was situated, about 500 miles from today’s Mecca. This reflects just how far the
Persians penetrated and influenced the region. The Persians used the Lakhmids,
who were a tribe of al-Hira situated on their borders in Mesopotamia,
to protect the borders. The Lakhmids became vassal governors during the
Sasanian periods. Al-Tabari says that the Arabian tribes settled in the
area of Hira at the time of Ardashir, son of Papak . Ardashir was the founder of the Sassanian Kingdom. He is also known by the name “Artaxerxes.” He
reigned between 226-240 A.D. Through the Lakhmids, the Persians formed tight
relationships with other tribes and cities in southern and southwestern Arabia. This was in addition to their continuing
influence in central Arabia.
If Mecca had
existed in the 3rd century A.D., Persian records would certainly
have mentioned it. Although the Persians penetrated into many parts of Arabia,
we don’t find Mecca
mentioned in any Persian record or literature. This is significant, because the
Persians were interested in controlling all the land routes between southern
Arabia and the Fertile Crescent, and Mecca
was eventually built on one of the most important branches of these trading
routes. Even more significant is the fact that the Persians were interested in
extending their influence all over Arabia,
whether through direct conquest or through alliances with existing states. We
find that Mecca is absent in any official
Persian records relating to the Persian plan of conquest over Arabia.
This indicates that Mecca
did not exist until at least the beginning of the 4th century A.D.
The Roman Expedition
Into Western Arabia
During the Roman Expedition to western Arabian, they accurately
documented all the villages and cities of the area. Their work demonstrates
that Mecca was
not in existence around the Christian era and the 1st century A.D.
written about the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Persians. Now we turn to
the last ancient empire to occupy northern and central western Arabia, the Roman Empire. The Romans conquered this area of
Arabia during their expedition under
Gallus around 23 B.C. I have already discussed this expedition in detail,
as to how Gallus first occupied northwestern Arabia, and then conquered all the
cities in central western Arabia as far south as the city of Najran,
on the border of Yemen.
From there Gallus conquered cities in Yemen until he reached Ma'rib. We
saw how this expedition was historically documented by Strabo, an important
historian and geographer of the time. In detail, he recorded the contents of
the regions of northwestern Arabia and central western Arabia, where Mecca was eventually
built. But even though Strabo’s survey mentioned tiny and seemingly
insignificant villages in northwestern and central western Arabia, he never
In addition to Strabo’s writing, we have other Roman records which
Pliny consulted in his survey of northwestern and central western Arabia. As in Strabo’s work, Mecca was absent from Pliny’s survey. The
Romans have a reputation for great accuracy in reporting the places,
cities and villages in any region which they conquered or even visited.
Their work assures us that Mecca
did not exist in the 1st century B.C. during the times of Strabo and
Great empires who covered spans of thousands of years, or more,
occupied central western Arabia, and mentioned the tiny villages without
How can Muslims disregard the records of these great empires?
have examined the records of the great ancient empires who occupied portions of
north and central western Arabia over the
years. We’ve tried to find a case for the existence of Mecca in the writings and inscriptions of the
Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Romans, but to no avail.
Although Mecca would have been situated at a
strategic location between the northern cities of Arabia and Yemen in southern Arabia,
we have no record of its existence. These regions were well known to these
empires. Although controlling of the area around Mecca
was strategic to controlling the trade routes and caravans traveling between Yemen, the Fertile Crescent and the rest of the
Mediterranean region, we have no record of Mecca’s existence. Yemen
was a strategic
point in the marine trade with the Far East, especially India. It is
difficult to believe that all four of these empires would neglect to mention a
city like Mecca
in the area, considering all of their ambitions to control this trade. To not
study the records of such great empires, who all occupied and penetrated this
region, is to abandon the most important historical records we have. If we were
to make our judgment without taking into consideration the records of these
great empires, we would certainly be amiss. By what criteria then, do
Muslims assert that Mecca existed during the
reign of these empires which covered the thousands of years they dominated the Middle East? What support does the Islamic claim
have that Mecca
actually existed? The answer is simple: Muslims do not have any
historical documents from this long period which show that Mecca existed when they claim it did, yet
they tenaciously hold to their teachings.
THE STUDY OF THE ASSYRIAN INSCRIPTIONS
ALSO EXCLUDES AN ANCIENT MECCA
Muslims contend otherwise, the land along the Red Sea, containing the place
where Mecca was
eventually built, was uninhabited until land trading routes were established through
that region in the 3rd century B.C. I mentioned previously about the absence of
Mecca in the records of the nations and cities
of Arabia that existed prior to the 4th
century A.D. I also showed how four foreign empires occupied northwestern and
central western Arabia and yet made no mention of Mecca within their records. I now will show
how Mecca is absent from the records of the Mesopotamia civilizations, especially the
Assyrians. I mentioned the Assyrians previously as one of the four
empires which occupied northwestern and central western Arabia
in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.
Mecca is Excluded From the Reports of the Second
civilizations of Mesopotamia were very aware of the cities and the respective
kingdoms which dotted the Middle East, such as Egypt
They were equally aware of those which lined eastern Arabia,
such as Dilmun and Magan. The ancient nations that existed in the region
are represented in their inscriptions and records. Previously, I had mentioned
the connections between the civilizations of Mesopotamia and those of eastern Arabia, connections which go as far back as 3,000 B.C.
For example, Magan, also called Oman,
as far back as 2800 B.C. is mentioned in Akkadic inscriptions. Any western Arabian kingdom or city that
existed at that time was sure to be mentioned in Mesopotamian inscriptions.
History confirms that kingdoms in southwestern Arabia, such as Yemen, were represented by the Saba Kingdom,
which didn’t exist before the 13th century B.C. Some scholars contend it
was the 12th century B.C., and others say it was the 11th century B.C. In
any case, in the 14th century B.C., the Egyptians mentioned Yemen before
any kingdom or city was established and known in that region. So the silence of
the Mesopotamian inscriptions pertaining to southwestern Arabia
is because there were no kingdoms there to make themselves known in the area.
The cities of north Arabia began to appear after
the 10th century B.C. That’s when the kingdoms of Yemen
began to communicate with the Fertile Crescent through the oases of
northern Arabia, where cities like
Dedan, Qedar, and other cities were built. It was only in the 6th century B.C.,
and later, that the city of Yathrib was
built, in addition to other cities. Although Muslims contend otherwise,
the land along the Red Sea, containing the place where Mecca was eventually built, was uninhabited
until land-trading routes were established through that region, starting from
the 3rd century B.C. These coastal trading routes, which ran parallel to
pre-existing inland trading routes, connected Yemen
with the oases of northern Arabia, which had
been established in the 8th century B.C. During these ancient times,
Mecca was not
mentioned among the many cities known to lie along these Arabian trading
routes. We already saw this when we studied the ancient Greek and
Roman geographers, and other nations which occupied north and central
We have constructed a historically-accurate picture of south-western Arabia,
principally Yemen, and its
expansion through north and central western Arabia as it traded with other
Middle Eastern kingdoms such as Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine.
It’s important to have a historically-accurate picture if we are to discount
the Qur’an’s claim that Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, traveled to Mecca, and that Abraham also visited Mecca and built a temple there. It’s
abundantly clear from the history of western Arabia
that there were no cities in that region which would interest Abraham, nor were
there any caravans traveling through that area at the time of Abraham, Ishmael
The study of the ancient Assyrian inscriptions is very important because
Assyria had existed in northern Iraq
since the 3rd millennium B.C., along with the other kingdoms of Mesopotamia. Yet, there is no mention of western
Arabia in their records and inscriptions, since there were no kingdoms in
existence in western Arabia at that time.
Let us look at the history of the region. Assyria
grew powerful under King Adad-Nirari II, who reigned from 911-891
B.C. Under his rule, the Assyrians occupied Babylonia, Anatolia and part
Following Adad-Nirari II, King Tukulti-Ninurta II ruled from 890-884 B.C.
Then King Ashurnasirpal II reigned from 883-859 B.C. He extended Assyrian
domination as far as the Mediterranean Sea.
What is of interest to us is that southern and northern Arabia are not
mentioned at all during the reigns of these kings who ruled while Assyria's
sphere of influence bordered on Arabia.
It is not until the reign of Shalmaneser III that we have inscriptions
concerning Arabia in Assyrian records.
Shalmaneser III reigned from 858-824 B.C. This is because only in the 9th
century B.C. were the cities of northern Arabia
constructed in the oases. Let’s look at those inscriptions. Shalmaneser III, in
the inscriptions called the Monolith Inscriptions from Kurkh, mentioned that
the Assyrians engaged an alliance formed of many kings in battle at Qarqar.
Among the kings he lists in the alliance are: Hadadezer, king of Damascus; Ahab, the king of Israel; and Gindibu’, the
Arab, whose army had 1,000 camels.
In the inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III, who reigned from 744-727 B.C.,
we also find a reference to the kingdoms of northern Arabia.
In these inscriptions, particularly in the annals which were removed from the
walls of the palace of Shalmaneser III at Nimrud – also called Calah, the old capital of the
Assyrians – we see that tribute was
paid by Queen Zabibe, “Queen of the Arabs” to Shalmaneser III, around 738 B.C.
More information about Queen Zabibe’s tribute is given in a stele found in Iran.
(A stele is a carved stone monument, much like our grave markers.) The
Qedarites are mentioned in the stele as being separated from the Arabs. By
this, we assume that the Qedarites, an Ishmaelite tribe, preserved its ethnic
identity as Ishmaelites until it was invaded by other Arabian tribes. As the
Qedarites intermingled with other tribes, they lost their independence.
However, in a short time, the invaders also took the name Qedarites. The
inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III also mention the subduing of another
Arabian queen named Samsi.
It is clear that the kingdom of Qedar in northern Arabia
did not appear until the 8th century B.C. Although early inscriptions
from Mesopotamia don’t mention any kingdoms in northern Arabia,
the 858-824 B.C. inscriptions of Shalmaneser III do mention “Gindibu,
the Arab.” Gindibu might be the chief of the Arabian tribe whose one thousand
camels were rented by King Ahab of Israel and the King of Damascus,
along with the other kings who were engaged in battle against the Assyrians.
That takes us to Sargon II, who reigned over Assyria from 721-705 B.C. Egypt was among
the nations he captured. He also enforced Assyrian control over the
Babylonians. From the time of Sargon II, information about Arabians increases
in frequency. The inscriptions of Sargon II are famous because they contain
information about tribute given to Assyria by
several kings, including the King of Saba. Also, the inscriptions mention some
tribes of northern Arabia.
Following Sargon II come the inscriptions of Sennacherib, who reigned
from 704-681 B.C. Sennacherib is best remembered for destroying the city of Babylon. Prominent
inscriptions from the time of Sennacherib were the Herper Letters, which date
to the epochs of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal.
Following Sennacherib come the
inscriptions of Esarhaddon, who reigned from 680-669. Then come the
inscriptions of Assurbanipal, who reigned from 668- 627 B.C. Assurbanipal
defeated Elam, Egypt and Lydia. The inscriptions of
Assurbanipal, which concern the Arabs, date back to the year 649 B.C.
There are also many letters which furnish
information about Arabs. Among them are the Herper Letters,
mentioned before, and the Nimrud Letters. Nimrud Letters can be dated back
to the end of the 8th century B.C. We also have other resources like the
Babylonian Chronicles, which speak about the campaign of Esarhaddon in the
land of Bazu in
central Arabia. The Babylonian
Chronicles also speak about a Babylonian attack in the Arabian
desert at the time of Nebuchadnezzar. The Nabonidus Chronicle
speaks about Nabonidus’ campaign in Arabia and
his sojourn in Teima.
We see that Assyrian and Babylonian records contain information about west,
north and central Arabia from the end of the
9th century B.C. until the 6th century B.C. This is a long period of time that
exposed the tribes and kingdoms, and reigning cities in that part of Arabia to the Assyrians and Babylonians. Yet no mention
of Mecca, or the tribes which Islamic tradition
claims to have lived in Mecca,
are found in any of these Assyrian and Babylonian records. The Assyrian and
Babylonian inscriptions give us five centuries of contact between this area of Arabia and these two Mesopotamian nations. Their records
date from the 9th century B.C. Between the northern tribes and
Saba, there is no city like Mecca
mentioned in the Assyrian or Babylonian records. While in each century many
records tell about nations and tribes in western and north Arabia, none mention
a city like Mecca.
Mecca is absent from the
Assyrian political, military and commercial scene, while other tribes of
western Arabia are mentioned in the
the second part of the 8th century B.C., Assyria
began to exert more influence over the Arabian tribes – tribes which attempted to avoid Assyrian
occupation by paying tribute. Other Arabian tribes wanted to ensure that their
trade would be protected along the spice route. This route connected
Assyrian-controlled territory in Sinai and south Jordan with the regions
of the Fertile Crescent, which were also under
their control. All the kingdoms and cities in western Arabia were
dependent upon trade for their wealth and livelihood. To maintain this trade,
they paid tribute to the kings of Assyria.
This was especially important for cities in this region because they had no
rain to support agriculture, and they needed to trade for food. The region
where Mecca was
built is one of those regions with little rain. Therefore, Mecca began as a city of trade in the 4th
century A.D. Its existence depended on the continuity of its trade, especially
with the countries of the Fertile Crescent, such as Mesopotamia,
Syria and Palestine. Thus, the main concerns of the
commercial cities of Arabia was to build
relationships with these countries where their trade was destined, and to find
The Assyrians received tribute from the Qedarites, one of many
historically-documented nations which presented tribute to Tiglath-Pileser III
around 738 B.C.
The kings of Saba also paid tribute to
the Assyrians to ensure their trade. To ensure their influence and protect
their trade in the region, many Arabian tribes attempted to create alliances
with each other. This often led to wars and campaigns.
We find that Mecca is absent in the trade–relation records between the people who dominated the Fertile Crescent from ancient times through the time of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Not only is Mecca absent from trading records, but it is also absent in any alliance which listed the tribes and cities of western Arabia through these same eras.
the inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III, dated 744-727 B.C., we find information
about the wars fought by him against many of the Arabian tribes. He mentions
his campaign against Samsi, “Queen of the Arabs,” in northern Arabia. Other inscriptions speak about campaigns in
which the Assyrians fought against Arabian tribes. Tiglath-Pileser, in an early
record, wrote :
10,000 warriors, I made
bow down to my feet. The people of Massa, Teima,
Saba, Hayappa, Badanu, Hatte, Idiba’ilu [I-di-ba’-il-a-a],
On the border of the countries of the setting sun Of whom not one of my predecessors
knew and whose place is remote, praise of my lordship.
….Camels, she camels,
all kind of spices, their tribute as one, they brought before me and kissed my
Idibi'ilu for the wardenship of the entrance of Egypt.
In analyzing the list
of people mentioned in the Tiglath-Pileser III inscriptions, we find they
lead with the names Massa, Teima and Saba. Massa
is known to be an Ishmaelite tribe which existed in the Syro-Arabian desert.
Teima was a northern Arabian tribe and city. Saba is well known as a kingdom
that dominated Yemen
at the time of Tiglath-Pileser III in the 8th century B.C. Many scholars
consider Badanu as the tribe of Bdn, which is found in Thamud and
In my research, I found that Pliny mentions the city of Badanatha as located in the area of the
I conclude that Badanatha may have been named after the tribe of Badanu which
united with, and then was integrated into the Thamud tribe in the 8th century
B.C. I assume that they were located in the same area where the city,
Badanatha, was eventually built.
I-di-ba’-il-a-a tribe is identified by many scholars as the tribe of
Adbeel. Adbeel was one of the sons of Ishmael. In the Tiglath-Pileser III
inscriptions, we learn that he appointed this tribe as the warden of the
entrance to Egypt.
The inscription says: “I appointed Idibi’ilu for the wardenship of the
entrance to Egypt.”
This inscription suggests that this Ishmaelite tribe was still living in the
Sinai around the 8th century B.C.
study of inscriptions confirms the accuracy of the Bible when it talks
about the origin of the tribes and nations mentioned in the book of Genesis. It’s
logical that people like the Assyrians would write down tribal names as they
pronounced them in their own language. Thus, we have Adbeel (written
as I-di-ba’-il-a-a), and Saba (written as
the inscriptions of the 8th and 7th centuries B.C., we encounter many of the
tribes about which Moses wrote in the Bible. However, we don’t see any
mention of Mecca or the other tribes, such as
Jurhum, which Islamic tradition claims lived in Mecca as far back as the time of Abraham.
Many of the tribes mentioned in the Bible since the 15th century
B.C. are mentioned again later in other books of the Bible, shedding light on
their existence, as well as their historical activities. One such tribe is
Ephah, which evolved from the sons of Abraham and Keturah, the wife
Abraham took after Sarah died.
scholars think that the tribe of Hayappa, mentioned in the inscriptions
of Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon II, was the tribe of Ephah. In the
Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the tribe is
called Ghaiphah. The Bible helps us locate this tribe, since Genesis gives
us the genealogy of the sons of Keturah. Ephah was the elder son of Midian, the
father of the Midianites. Ephah became the strongest tribe of the
Midianites, often representing all the Midianites. The Midianites lived in
northwestern Arabia, near the
Aqaba region. They united with the Ishmaelites at the time of Gideon, whose
battle with the Midianites occurred around 1170 B.C. Midianite pottery has
been found in Negev-Sinai, south of Jordan, and in many parts of north Arabia.
It has been found as far south as Teima. The Midianite pottery in Teima is
dated between the beginning of the 13th century B.C. and the middle of the 12th
We don’t find Midianite pottery south of Teima. This demonstrates that the
Midianites and Ephah never reached central western Arabia, where Mecca was eventually
the Bible, the book of Isaiah, we see Ephah and Midian as one
group. We read in Isaiah, chapter 60, verse 6:
The multitude of camels
shall cover your land. The dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all those from
come; they shall bring gold and incense.
located in northwestern Arabia around the Gulf of
Aqaba. This verse shows Ephah had a role in the trade between Yemen’s Saba, here called Sheba, and Palestine.
Knowing that Isaiah began to prophesy in 739 B.C., the year that King
Uzziah died, and that Tiglath-Pileser III began to reign as King of
Assyria in 745 B.C., we can conclude that the Bible confirms the presence
of Ephah as a trading people between Saba and Israel around the last quarter of
the 8th century B.C. We read about Saba
elsewhere in the Bible, as well. Some scholars think that there might have been
a Sabaean tribe in the north of Arabia,
toward Dedan. Those who support this idea base their hypothesis on Job 1:15,
where it says that the Sabaeans raided the sons of Job and killed his
servants. Other scholars think that Saba was a
northern colony of the Saba of Yemen. Other Biblical verses show the existence
of Saba of Yemen. The Lord Jesus Christ shows that the Queen of
Sheba came from the uttermost region of the south (Matthew 12:42).
Jeremiah 6:20 says:
for what purpose to me comes frankincense from Sheba, and sweet cane from a far country?
Here we see a kind of poetic parallelism in which Jeremiah also speaks of Saba. First, he describes it as a place where frankincense comes from, which is historically true that Saba in Yemen was a great trader of frankincense. Then he describes it as a far off country. Even in the book of Job itself, Saba is mentioned again as a country from which travelers come, as we read in Job 6:19, “the caravans of Teima look, the travelers of Saba hope for them.” It is known that Sabaeans of Yemen were merchants who accompanied the caravans across the desert toward Palestine and Syria, and other Mediterranean countries.
chapter 1, records that the Sabaeans attacked the possessions of Job.
These Sabaeans are thought to be a tribe of northern Bedouins, located in the
Syro-Mesopotamian desert. They were descendants of Keturah, the second wife of
Abraham. Other scholars believe that the Sabaeans mentioned in Job could have
been a colony of Sabaeans from Yemen
who tried to control the spice trade route. They reached the place where Job
lived, as they are seen in the inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III, having
connections with areas of northern Arabia and
the Sinai. Inscriptions show that Tiglath-Pileser III forced 10,000
Sabaean warriors to bow at his feet. Then he demanded “all kind of spices”
in tribute, confirming that he dealt with people on the spice route, especially
Saba, Teima and Ephah. The three were
known for controlling the spice land route. Tiglath-Pileser III says that their
lands were remote, and none of his predecessors knew about these places.
Tiglath-Pileser III said in one inscription, “I made bow down to my feet the
people of Massa’, Teima, and Saba”
may indicate that the Assyrians were engaged in wars against these tribes. Just
how much the Sabaeans were engaged is not clear from the inscriptions. Whether
the Sabaeans were a colony of the Saba of Yemen, or Bedouins from the north, is
not easy to establish. In either case, we know that in later times the kings of
Saba offered tribute to the Assyrian kings, a
sign that they recognized the supremacy of Assyrians in the region. They were
also willing to allow their trade to pass through the lands under the Assyrian
this historical picture at the time of Tiglath-Pileser III, who ruled from
744-727 B.C., we find historical documentation about the tribes that dominated
the commercial, political and military scene in western Arabia.
We saw Qedar paying tribute to the Assyrians. We also saw Ephah, the
dominant Midianite tribe, paying tribute. In addition, the tribe of
Badanu, which was associated with the Thamud, the tribe that appeared a decade
after at the time of Sargon II (who reigned from 721-705 B.C.) paid
tribute. Then we find Teima, and finally the tribe of Saba, which
Also, after examining the important records of Sargon II, which I will discuss
later, we find many other tribes, yet there is no mention of a city like Mecca between the northwestern tribes and Saba. Nor do we find any mention of any other tribe, like
Jurhum, which Islamic tradition claims lived in Mecca
and became the dominant tribe in western Arabia.
Mecca is absent
from the records of the nations in the beginning of the 1st
millennium B.C., like it is absent from the classical records in the last half
of the 1st millennium B.C. It is implausible to believe that less
important tribes, like the Badanu and others in western Arabia,
were recorded by the Assyrians while the city which Islamic tradition
makes the center of faith and supremacy is forgotten. The Assyrian leaders
recorded movements of armies and commerce in their ancient records, but they
never mentioned Mecca.
Muslims need to challenge their knowledge, and question the things on which
they base their religious hope.
THE REIGN OF SARGON II AND ARABIA
existing at the time of Sargon II, would have been mentioned with the various
Arabian tribes including Saba, which were all mentioned in the inscriptions of
Sargon II was one
of Assyria’s greatest kings. As the successor
to Shalmaneser V, he reigned from 722-705 B.C., and consolidated the
conquests made by Tiglath-Pileser III. Philistia, Babylonia, Kurdistan and
were among the lands he conquered. In 717 B.C., he deposed the king of the
Hittite city of Karkemish and
made the city an Assyrian colony. He put down rebellions in many cities, such
as Arpad, Damascus
and Hamath, and he defeated the plans of the Egyptians who supported these
rebellions. After conquering a nation, Sargon would deport some of the
inhabitants and mix the remnant of the population with inhabitants from other
regions. Samaria is
one example of this. Sargon II deported Israelites living in Samaria to the north of Assyria and then brought some
Arabian tribes that were threatening his border to live in Samaria.
in Sargon’s palace and capital at Dur Sharrukin have uncovered his annals.
Among the events recorded in these annals is his triumph over several Arabian
tribes, such as Thamud, Marsimani, Ephah and Ibadidi. He deported part of
their populations to Samaria.
His annals also record tribute given to him by Pir’u, the King of Egypt; by
Samsi, the Queen of northern Arabia and the desert between Arabia and
Palestine; and by Ita’amra, King of Saba, who is known in the Saba inscriptions
as Yathi’ amar.
We also find this information about the defeat of the Arabian tribes in other
Assyrian records, namely the Cylinder inscription. We also find the tributes of
the kings in the Display inscription. We see that the historical events during
this period are confirmed from more than one record.
The tribe of
Marsimani is identified as the tribe of Mesamanes, mentioned by
Ptolemy in the sixth book and seventh chapter of his work simply titled Geography. Ptolemy placed the location of
this tribe close to the area of the Thamud. Thamud is mentioned in the
inscriptions and is an Arabian tribe in northwestern Arabia.
It’s also mentioned by Greek and Roman classical writers, and richly
documented in northern Arabian inscriptions. Thamud is located between
Teima and the region where Mecca
was eventually built.
Ephah, which we saw participating at the time of Tiglath-Pileser III with
the other Arabian northwestern tribes in an alliance against the Assyrians, is
seen again here in a new alliance.
Considering the events of the 8th century B.C., including the things already
recorded in inscriptions by Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon II, we
have a clear picture of which nations and tribes dominated the scene in western
Arabia. This picture contains both the
military point of view and the trading activity point of view. Mecca is
absent from all these records, even though it would have been near the location
of tribes mentioned in the inscriptions of the 8th century B.C.,
like the tribes of Thamud and Mesamanes. Mecca,
if it had existed at that time, would have been located between the
aforementioned tribes and Saba.
absent from the military, trade and religious scene during Sennacherib's reign.
Sennacherib, who ruled
from 705-681 B.C., fought to maintain the empire established by his father,
Sargon II. Among Sennacherib’s actions was a campaign against Babylonia.
Later, he initiated campaigns against countries located on the Mediterranean
coast, and supported by Egypt,
two of which were Phoenicia
and Philistia. Next, Sennacherib campaigned
Then, he defeated the Egyptians around 701 B.C. Another important
campaign that Sennacherib conducted targeted Elam around 691 B.C.
Sennacherib defeated the Arabs, who took sides with Merodach Baladan,
the Babylonian king who rebelled against the Assyrians. Another campaign
was against the queen of northern Arabia named
Te’lhunu. The queen was defeated and she was pursued to the city of Adummatu, identified with
the Dumah. Classical authors mention Dumahas. Domatha, a city of north Arabia built on an oasis. Dumahis located between
al-Medina and Syria.
It was known also as Dumaht al-Jandal. Dumah was known to be an important
religious center for Arabian tribes. A temple to the god, Wadd, was
located in Dumah. We know that in later times, a temple in the Aqaba Gulf region replaced Dumah, an important
religious center. The Greek geographer, Agatharchides, attests to this
religious center. We know that Sennacherib’s army captured images that the
Arabians had veneered in Dumah and brought to Assyria.
Later, Esarhaddon returned them to Dumah.
According to Assyrian inscriptions, around 689 B.C. the Assyrians conducted a
campaign in northern Arabia against Adummatu.
They fought against an alliance of two northern Arabian rulers: Telehunu, Queen
of the Arabs; and Hazael, King of Qedar. The inscriptions tell us the alliance
was defeated, and Hazael resumed sending tribute to Sennacherib. Through these
wars, Sennacherib established himself in the lands that his father, Sargon II,
had captured. Sennacherib gained notoriety beyond his borders by defeating the
Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Arabian Queen Te’lhunu, and Dumah. Sennacherib
was also known for gaining control of the spice land routes. His fame had
spread to the point that Herodotus, the Greek historian, called him “king of
the Arabs and Assyrians.”
Arabian cities like Teima regularly paid tribute to Sennacherib. There was
an inscription at Nineveh which describes a
gate in Nineveh
as “the desert gate through which gifts from the people of Teima enter.” This indicates how much the trade
cities, like Teima, were at the mercy of the Assyrians if they wanted their
trade to continue. These cites needed to have the favor of the Assyrians to
The Assyrian annals mention gifts or tributes paid by the King of Saba named
Kariba’ilu. This king is Karib’il Water, well known in the Saba
inscriptions. This is because of the Assyrian control of the land
route boundaries of the Fertile Crescent.
King Hazael of Qedar paid tributes to the Assyrian king, Sennacherib.
After the defeat of his alliance with Queen Telehunu, Hazael resumed paying
tributes to Sennacherib.
which depended for its survival upon its trade with markets controlled by
Assyrians, could not have been silent in the trade relationships with the
Assyrians if Mecca
had existed in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.
Many nations in western
Arabia are mentioned by Sennacherib,
especially kingdoms trading along the spice route. Among them were Dumah,
Qedar, Teima, and Saba in Yemen. Sargon II also mentions
spice route cities such as Saba, Teima and
Ephah. Cities which depended on their relationships with other nations couldn't
be silent in the history of empires like Assyria,
when it dominated the routes that led to the markets.
construction of Mecca in the 4th century A.D. in
an arid area of Arabia, Mecca bought goods
from Yemen and marketed them
to Palestine, Syria
and Mesopotamia in the Fertile Crescent.
Assyria controlled that land beginning with
the end of the 8th century B.C. and recorded tribes of secondary
importance in its trading records. How, then, could the most important and
ancient city in the region, according to the Islamic claim, be missed if it
existed in the 8th century B.C. and in the beginning of the 7th
The Religious Center of Dumah
Mecca is absent
from the religious scene, when a religious city of that time like
Dumah was the place of attention for the Arabian tribes.
observation we also see in the Assyrian inscriptions is about Dumah, the
religious center for tribes of northern Arabia.
The images and gods of Dumah were of such primary importance to the Arabians
that they went to Assyria begging
Esarhaddon for their return. This was many years after Esarhaddon’s father
had taken the images to Assyria. Dumah had
religious preeminence during the Assyrian period before the Arabians built
another temple in the Aqaba Gulf region. Knowing that the Arabians
of the desert are faithful to the religious center they revere, if Mecca had existed in
Assyrian times, then it could not have been hidden. Mecca would have been the city where people
went to worship and consult their gods before battle. Mecca would have been their refuge when they
suffered military defeat. Kings would have fled there like they used to
flee to Dumah. They would have gone to their holy city to invoke the protection
of their gods.
we see once more that Mecca
is absent from the trade, military and religious records of the Assyrian and
Babylonian empires. To affirm a claim, like Mecca being the center of monotheism
established by Abraham, and continuing to be the place where the Arabian tribes
tried to have the prerogative and privilege to control through all history of
Arabia, as it claimed by the Islamic tradition, is something that would make
Mecca the center of interest and contentions for all Arabian tribes. It would
consequently have been obvious in all epochs, and recorded historically in each
of these eras. The fact of the matter is, if Mohammed had selected any
city as his religious claim other than Mecca,
he could have made connections to the old local pagan Arabian religious centers
of the 7th century B.C., like Dumah. But Mecca
has no history to support these ancient connections beyond the pagan star
worship of Yemen in the 4th
century A.D., for which, historically, the temple of Mecca
continue our quest to understand the dating of the founding of the city of Mecca, we come to
the reign of Esarhaddon, who
followed his father Sennacherib. Esarhaddon reigned from 680-669 B.C. Among his campaigns, the most important were his
invasions of Egypt, Ethiopia and the Arabian
desert. Near the river Kalb, which is near Beirut, Lebanon
today, one of his inscriptions was found. It records his campaigns into Egypt and Ethiopia. Egypt was under
the rule of the Ethiopians when Esarhaddon invaded it. He eventually
conquered all the kingdoms along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, and he
brought their kings to Nineveh.
inscriptions of Esarhaddon provide us with a lot of information about his
wars with the Arabs, reflecting just how much land the Assyrians controlled in
some parts of Arabia at the beginning of the
7th century B.C. The annals of Nineveh reveal
many such events. One event was the return of the images of the Arabian
gods to Dumah. Dumah became a religious center for the Arabian tribes since the
9th century B.C.
Esarhaddon also rescued Tabua. She had been taken as a small girl
from her own people, and she grew up in the court of the Assyrian kings. Then
the Assyrians appointed her to be the queen of the Arabs in Dumah. For
Assyrian kings to appoint rulers for some of the Arabian lands shows the
influence they had over parts of Arabia at the
time of Esarhaddon.
Annals of Nineveh also report the tribute that Hazael, King of Qedar, paid
to Assyria. Assyrian
records describe Hazael as he came to Nineveh
to express his submission to Esarhaddon:
Hazael, king of Arabia, the splendor of my
majesty overwhelmed him, and with gold, silver, and precious stones he came
into my presence and also kissed my feet.
The Annals of
Nineveh also tell us about Hazael’s son, Ia’-hi-u’, who was also called
Yauta’. He became king of Qedar after Hazael’s death. The Assyrian army
intervened to help Ia’-hi-u’ defeat a revolt conducted by U-a-bu. U-a-bu led an
Arabian alliance against Yauta’, but the Alliance
was defeated by the Assyrian army. Later IA’-hi-u’ became disloyal to the
Assyrians who, in turn, attacked IA’-hi-u’, who was defeated and fled. He later
returned and swore a loyalty oath to Assurbanipal, the next king of the
These, and other examples from the inscriptions of Esarhaddon show that
northern Arabia, especially Qedar, was under
Assyrian rule. The Assyrians appointed kings, took tributes, and suppressed any
revolts directly against them, or against any Arabian rulers who were loyal to
them. The aforementioned episodes are also found in other Assyrian inscriptional
Also, there are other inscriptions in Nineveh and
Assur reporting these same episodes. These examples testify as to how the
historical events occurring during the reign of Esarhaddon are well-attested in
the archaeological records. We find an interesting fact in the so-called “Fragment
F” from Nineveh.
When Esarhaddon’s army crossed the Sinai desert to suppress a revolt in Egypt,
they used Arabian camels to supply them with water. This suggests that through the
domain of Esarhaddon over the many Arabian lands, through the Arabs’ experience
in the deserts, and with their camels, the Assyrian army was capable of
crossing huge deserts to attack distant lands. In fact, among the episodes
recorded in Esarhaddon’s inscriptions was his campaign into the land of Bazu.
The Land of Bazu
important argument (for the case against the existence of Mecca
at the time of Esarhaddon) hinges on the fact that there were no more
cities for Assyrian to conquer in northwestern Arabia, so they marched in
profundity into central Arabia to the land of Bazu.
Ba’zu is considered by
many scholars to have been located in central Arabia, or toward the Persian Gulf region. This supports the idea that the
Assyrians controlled parts of northern and central Arabia.
Details about this campaign are found in Esarhaddon’s Inscriptions, his
Chronicles and some Babylonian Chronicles. Ba’zu is described as:
A distant country,
beyond a salt desert, beyond sandy and thorny land, beyond the sphere of
military activity of earlier Assyrian kings.
The same records
describe Ba’zu as: “An arid land, saline ground, a waterless region.”
Heidel Prism III speaks of a march of about 140 beru (which
corresponds to 1,500 kilometers) through a region “covered with sand, thorny
plants, snakes and scorpions cover the land like ants.”Another description of the land of Ba'zu says: “A district located
afar off, a desert stretch of alkali, a thirsty region of sand, thorn brush and
gazelle mouth, stones, 20 double hours of serpents and scorpions, with which
the plain was covered as with ants.”
Inscriptions name nine places the Assyrians conquered in the land of Ba’zu,
and give the names of eight of their kings. Assyrian records tell us that the
Assyrian army burned seven walled cities in Ba’zu. Then they appointed a local
king by the name of Layale’ to rule the country. He was the king of a land near
Ba’zu under the name of Ia-di.
These episodes reflect how deep the Assyrian influence was in Arabia
at the time of Esarhaddon. They were able to march across a desert over a
distance of 1,500 kilometers. Scholars suggest two places for the location of
Ba’zu: One is in central Arabia, near the city of Khaybar and
and the other is west of the Persian Gulf. The events involving Ba’zu reflect the
depth of the Assyrian influence in Arabia at
the time of Esarhaddon. It is significant that the Assyrian army conquered a
distant and arid land like Ba’zu, instead of going west toward the area where Mecca was eventually
built. This supports the fact that the classical writers found that the area in
which Mecca was
eventually built was uninhabitable at that time. The area divided northern
Arabia from Yemen,
to the point that the Assyrians possessed no more cities or kingdoms in that
area. Instead, they proceeded into central and eastern Arabia to conquer new
lands, such as the land
Assurbanipal had many contacts with Arabian tribes, and had reached the
area of Teima, Mecca
is absent in the Assyrian records which talk about him.
Our argument doesn’t
stop with Esarhaddon. When he died, he divided the Mesopotamian territory
between his two sons. He gave Babylonia to his eldest son,
Shamash-shum-ukin, and he gave the throne of Assyria to his second son,
Assurbanipal, who ruled Assyria from 669-626 B.C. Assurbanipal drove the
Ethiopian king, Taharka, out of Egypt and appointed Necho to replace him.
Then, around 660 B.C., during Assurbanipal’s campaign against Elam and the Chaldeans, Psamtik, son of Necho,
rebelled and separated Egypt
from Assyria. Then Shamash-shum-ukin,
Assurbanipal’s elder brother and King of Babylonia, formed an alliance with
several nations to make war against his brother, Assurbanipal. Assyrian records
list the Arabian tribes which joined Shamash-shum-ukin. The Assyrian record
reads like this:
In these days Shamash-shum-ukin, the faithless brother of mine, king of Babylon, stirred to revolt against me the people of Akkad, Chaldea, the Arameans... the Sealand from Akaba to Bab-Salimeti.(Akaba may be the actual name of Aqaba.)
He also mentioned
tribes of Arabia which rebelled with
Shamash-shum-ukin against Assurbanipal. Around 648 B.C., when Assurbanipal
defeated the alliance and annexed Babylonia to
his empire, his brother killed himself. Some years later, Nabopolassar, the
leader of Chaldean dynasty, rebelled against Assurbanipal.
The inscriptions of Assurbanipal present information about the Arabs. The annals of Assurbanipal record a treaty that he made with the Qedarites prior to year 652 B.C. The annals also provide us with information about the revolt of Yauta’, the son of Hazael and King of Qedar. He attacked regions in Trans Jordan before the hostilities between Assurbanipal and his brother, Shamash-shum-ukin, King of Babylonia, began. Yauta’ was defeated and fled to the land of Nebaioth to seek refuge under their king, Natnu. Assurbanipal replaced Yauta’ with Abiyate’, son of Te’ri, who submitted to Assurbanipal and paid tribute to him. Also Natnu, King of Nebaioth, did the same. The Assyrian inscriptions show that the Qedarites had more than one leader. One of them was called Ammuladi. Ammuladi attacked the western border of the Assyrian empire and was defeated.
According to Shamash-shum-ukin’s Chronicles, the siege of the city of Babylon was in the year
650 B.C. Among the Arabians who helped Shamash-shum-ukin was Abiyate’,
son of Te’ri.
There was another Arabian called Uaita’, son of Birdada, king of a tribe called
Su-mu-An, who sent forces to help Shamash-shum-ukin. The Su-mu-An tribe is
considered one of the Qedar tribal confederations. The reason that Arabian tribes took
sides with Shamash-shum-ukin against Assurbanipal was that
Babylonia was closer to them, and they thought that Babylonia would win
the conflict and control the land routes to the markets in the Fertile Crescent. They also thought the Babylonians would
not impose heavy tributes like Assyria did.
the year 645 B.C., an Assyrian campaign took place against the tribes of Qedar,
Su-mu-An and Nebaioth. This campaign came after the Assyrian victory
So Assurbanipal was now ready to punish the tribes who gave aid to his
rebellious brother, Shamash-shum-ukin. Before Assurbanipal’s Assyrian
empire declined, and was superseded by the Babylonians, Assurbanipal waged many
other campaigns against the Arabs. He fought them in the Syro-Arabian desert,
starting from Tadmur and moving south. In the final stage of his
campaigning, according to the historian Glaser (as we mentioned previously),
Assurbanipal penetrated the Arabian desert as far as Teima.
a city built on the spice route, and it depended on the markets of the Fertile
Crescent which, before the 7th century B.C., was under the Assyrian
occupation for centuries. To survive, Mecca
would have made itself known to traders and other cities if it had existed
during that long time span.
From the study of
Assyrian inscriptions of the 7th century B.C., we see in all of this that Mecca is conspicuously
absent, just as it is absent from all the other Assyrian inscriptions. This
long period of time spans several centuries. Each king documented his conquests
and kept meticulous records. Some events appear in not only one inscription,
but in many. We have seen how each tribe in north and western Arabia, even as
far away as Saba, was eager to please the
Assyrians in order to protect their interests. Many paid tribute annually. Some
Assyrian-controlled tribes and cities at times rebelled and were punished.
Still others formed alliances, hoping to occupy new regions, or have more
influence over the land trading routes which influenced their markets.
there’s no explanation for the absence of Mecca
in all the Assyrian records during this long period of history. The names
of kingdoms and cities on the spice route appear many times, but the city of Mecca is never among
them. If it had existed, as Muslims claim, Mecca would have had more reason than any
other nation to build a strong relationship with the Assyrians. Mecca would need to gain Assyrian favor with tributes and
gifts, because Mecca’s
location would require it to be dependent on trade in order to survive.
later in history, the city of Mecca does appear
in central western Arabia, but that’s not
until the 4th century A.D. Like the nations before it, the historical
record shows that Mecca
was dependent on trade (after its appearance) because of its location on the
spice-trading route. The silence of Mecca during
the Assyrian domination of the Fertile Crescent, and its preeminence over the
tribes of northern Arabia, points once again to the fact that Mecca could not have existed during the era
of Assyrian control. This information would have importance only for historians
who study this time period, if it were not for one thing: The followers of
Islam claim that the city of Mecca
began long before the time of Assurbanipal. They claim that it was founded by
Abraham and Ishmael, his son by Hagar. They claim that these two men built a
temple in Mecca
as early as 2050 B.C. We have shown this cannot be true.
RECORDS ALSO EXCLUDE ANY RECORD OF MECCA
DURING THE 7TH AND 6TH CENTURIES B.C.
The Chaldeans were people of Arabian origin who settled in the region of Babylonia. After the death of Assurbanipal, the Chaldean, Nabopolassar, the ruler of Babylonia, established his independence in 625 B.C. Nabopolassar occupied the Assyrian provinces and destroyed Nineveh in the year 605 B.C. with the help of Manda, a nomad tribe from Kurdistan, which many scholars identify with the Medes. The Assyrian dynasty of Harran asked for help from Pharaoh Necho II, the ruler of Egypt who controlled Syria at that time. Nabopolassar placed his son, Nebuchadnezzar, in command of the Babylonian army. They encountered and defeated the Egyptians in the old Hittite city of Carchemish in 604 B.C. When Nebuchadnezzar heard that his father had died, he returned to Babylonia and became the king of one of the most powerful empires in the Middle East. In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar occupied and destroyed Jerusalem, forcing the Jews into exile.
Nebuchadnezzar ruled the Chaldeans, he fought many wars with Arab
countries. Information regarding the Chaldean period can be found in the
Babylonian Chronicles, as well as other resources. According to the Babylonian
Chronicles, Nebuchadnezzar raided the Arabs several times between 599-598
B.C. The echo of such raids was recorded in the Bible by the prophet
Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 49: 28, he writes:
Concerning Qedar, and
concerning the kingdoms of Hazor which Nebuchadnezzar the King of
Babylon shall smite, thus says the Lord: “ Arise and go to Qedar…”
Nebuchadnezzar’s raids is confirmed in the apocryphal book of Judith, which was
written in the 4th century B.C. In the second chapter of that book,
Midian is mentioned among the tribes. It says:
he compassed about all
the children of Midian and set on fire their tents, and spoiled their
Some scholars think
that Nebuchadnezzar reached further than Midian, all the way to Teima.
The last king of Babylonia was Nabonidus. We already have dealt, in
part, with the campaigns Nabonidus waged in Arabia.
He reigned from 556-539 B.C., and occupied the Arabian city of Teima, to which he transferred his
residency. Nabonidus was from Harran. His
mother, Addagoppe, who was a priestess of the god-moon, Sin, had a special
relationship with Nebuchadnezzar. It is thought that this is the reason
Nabonidus ascended to the throne of Babylon
after Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Labasi-Marduk, had been killed in his palace
as a result of a conspiracy.
Addagoppe was born in 649 B.C., lived for 102 years, and died around 547
B.C. From Nabonidus’ Inscriptions, we learn that Addagoppe was mourned as a
great queen. This incident, along with other details, supports the idea that she
was married to Nebuchadnezzar.
Inscriptions of Harran mention that Addagoppe was brought to the
Babylonian court around 610 B.C., where she became very influential. When
Labasi-Marduk was assassinated, and the throne became empty, she found herself
in the position to name a successor, largely due to her status as the widow of
Nebuchadnezzar. She replaced Labasi-Marduk with her son, Nabonidus. Some
scholars believe that Nabonidus was married to the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar.
If so, Nebuchad-nezzar would have been a stepfather to Nabonidus and
step-grandfather to Nabonidus’ son, Belshazzar; and, perhaps, the
father-in-law of Nabonidus, as well. Belshazzar and his father would have been
considered members of the family of the great King Nebuchadnezzar. This
justifies their ascensions to the throne of Babylonia.
controlled north and central western Arabia, including the area where
Mecca was eventually built, mentioned all the cities there, but he did not
Nabonidus left the
affairs of the kingdom to his son, Belshazzar, and traveled in Arabia to
control north and central western Arabia. He
marched toward Edom in
and then to Teima. He killed the king of Teima, subdued the inhabitants, and
built a royal palace for himself. After establishing himself in Teima,
Nabonidus launched campaigns to ensure his control over all northern and
central western Arabia. He eventually occupied
the cities of Dedan, Fadak, Khaybar, Yadi, and Yathrib, which is also
called al-Medina. (See Fig. 4.)
Inscriptions which date back to the 6th century B.C. were found in Teima. These
inscriptions describe wars between Teima and Dedan. This may suggest that people of
Teima were used by Nabonidus in his campaigns against Dedan and other
cities in the region. Historians believe cities like Khaybar and
Yathrib were most probably built during the 6th century B.C. The city of
Qedar, prior to the time of Nabonidus, had been subdued by Nebuchadnezzar.
Thus, Nabonidus eventually controlled all the existing cities in the area. He
controlled all the routes which branch from Medina to
the north with the cities of Yathrib, Teima and Dedan; to the east with the
city of Yathrib-Hail; and to the south of Yathrib,
which is only 200 miles from where Mecca
Since Nabonidus wished to control the whole area, Mecca would have been one of his main goals,
if it had existed then. Nabonidus was in the area a long time. His
military activity was more than one campaign lasting a few days or
months. Nabonidus traveled the area for ten years. All north and
central western Arabia was his province.
He was there so long that he couldn’t have missed Mecca, if it were there at the time.
see that Mecca is not mentioned at any time
during the Chaldean period, even when Nabonidus made all of northern
and central western Arabia, which included the area where Mecca was eventually built, into another
province of his empire. This is significant, because cities that would have
been less important than Mecca were mentioned as
part of this province, but Mecca
was not mentioned.
MERCHANTS OF MECCA
While the merchants
of the Arabian routes were discussed in many places, no merchant from Mecca is ever mentioned.
Not only is Mecca absent from all the
military campaign records during the Chaldean period, but it is also
missing from the records of trading activity. Trade was important to the
Babylonians as early as the 6th century B.C. We know that there was an
increase in trade along the Arabian land routes to the Fertile
Crescent. Babylonian records reflect increased trade activity and Babylon’s relationship with Arabian merchants, but these
records don’t mention Mecca.
Arab merchants were known for their trade with the Babylonians. The records
show Nabonidus sending a letter to one of his assistants, instructing him
to give an Arabic merchant of the tribe of Thamud (Te-mu-da-a
Ar-ba-a-a) several talents of silver.
documents before Nabonidus show people arriving from Teima in Babylonia, mainly as merchants. Other documents also
mention the Qedarites. Travelers from Teima also appear in the Assyrian and
Babylonian records. One example is a letter mentioning Am-me-ni-ilu tamkaru
Te-ma-a-a, and his journey to the King of Babylonia. Yet, in all these records, we see
no one coming from Mecca.
If Mecca had
existed during the Chaldean period, it indeed would be strange not to have
been listed in the Chaldean trade records of the time, especially since other
cities on the northern and central western Arabian spice route were
recorded as a testimony to their trade activity. The fact of the matter is
that, in all historical documents, we do not see a merchant of Mecca in any
place in the Middle East, while the trace of merchants of cities of western
Arabia are found even as far away as Sinai. In Sinai, for example,
inscriptions have been found identifying merchants belonging to the
Thamud tribe. We also find Minaean merchants in various epochs
traveling to the Fertile Crescent. The Minaean
merchants were also involved in trade with Egypt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries
B.C. There has been a sarcophagus found of a Minaean merchant who supplied the
Egyptian temples with incense.
Minaean inscriptions found in Memphis, Egypt and Delos
give us more activities of Minaean merchants. Minaean and Dedanite inscriptions
in Jordan reflect the
activity of their merchants in the Fertile Crescent. Saba merchants
are mentioned in the book of Job, around the 9th through 7th
centuries B.C. These merchants were traveling in the area of Palestine. Inscriptions telling us
about Sabaean merchants were found in northeastern Arabia. Scholars
confirm the presence of Sabaeans near Yathrib, also called Medina, in a place called Wady ash Sheba, which means the Valley of Saba.
There is also a village named in a Greek inscription as “Pool of the
all these trade records, it is unreasonable to suggest that Mecca had existed since the time of Abraham,
and was located on an ancient trading route. No archaeological or documented
testimony is found anywhere which refers to even one merchant from Mecca. Yet, each kingdom
and city on the same land route has many well-documented testimonies of its
trade, including in places where it used to trade, or in places the caravan
used to pass through. All the historical facts we have tell us that Mecca could not have
existed prior to the Christian era. We hold our Muslim friends in high regard,
but it is time for them to see that they have been taught a serious mistruth.
Research Institute- Home
Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, University
of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page
 K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For
Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool
University Press, 1994, page 135
 Rabinowitz, Journal of Near Eastern
Studies 15 (1956),1-9, pls.6-7, quoted by K.A. Kitchen, Documentation
For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press, 1994, page
 Reed, Ancient
Records from North Arabia, Toronto, 1970, 50 f., 115-117 quoted by K.A.
Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University
Press, 1994), page 169
 K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For
Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool
University Press, 1994, page 237
 James Montgomery, Arabia
and the Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 138
 F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient
Records from North Arabia, University
of Toronto Press, 1970,
 F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient
Records from North Arabia, page 103
 K.A. Kitchen, Documentation
For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool
University Press, 1994, page 237
 K.A. Kitchen, Documentation
For Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages
 K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For
Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 175-180; 238
 C.Robin, Inventair
des Inscriptions Sudarabiques, 1ff. Paris/Rome, 1992 ff.1, 67-68, Haram 3 &
4; Repertoire d'Epigraphie Semitique, esp.V-VIII, Paris, 1929-1968,
2751/M.15; quoted by K.A. Kitchen, page 180
 K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For
Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 181; 239
 C.Robin, Inventair des Inscriptions Sudarabiques, 1ff. Paris/Rome, 1992 ff.,1,
5-6, pls.2b,3a; Inabba; quoted by K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia,
Part I, page 181; see also K.A. Kitchen, page 239
building-dedication, al-Harashif 3 (C.Robin, Inventair des Inscriptions
Sudarabiques,1ff. Paris/Rome, 1992 ff., 1, 200-201, pl.59b); quoted
by K.A. Kitchen, page 182
 K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For
Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press, 1994, pages 181, 182;
see also K.A. Kitchen, page 239
 Comptes-rendus de l'académie des Inscriptions et Belleslettres, 1992,
68; cf.C.Robin in Robin(ed.), L'Arabie Antique de Karib'il à Mahomet,
Aix-en-Provence, 1993,55,128, fig.20; quoted by K.A. Kitchen, page 183
 K.A. Kitchen, Documentation
For Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 181, 182; see also K.A. Kitchen,
 K.A. Kitchen, Documentation
For Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 181, 182; see also K.A.
Kitchen, pages 183-188
 See K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For
Ancient Arabia, Part I, pages 181,
182; see also K.A. Kitchen, pages 90-222
 A.Jamme, W.F., Sabaean Inscriptions
from Mahram Bilqis (Ma'rib), the Johns Hopkins Press,Baltimore, 1962, Volume III, page 137
 A.Jamme, W.F., Sabaean Inscriptions
from Mahram Bilqis (Ma'rib), the Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1962, Volume
III, page 169
 R.W. Ehrich, Chronologies
in Old World Archaeology, 3rd Edition, I-II, Chicago, 1992, I,
pages 67-68; see also D.T. Potts, Dilmun, New Studies in the
Archaeology and Early History of Bahrain, (BBVO2), Berlin, 1983, quoted by
K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, page
 J.B. Pritchard, Ancient
Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton,
 Hommel, Ancient
Hebrew Tradition, pages 35-39, cited by Wilfred Schoff on his comment on The
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt
Ltd., 1995, page 134
 Halevy, nos.190, 231-234 ; Hommel, Chrestomathie,
page 117; Hartmann, Die arabische Frage, pp. 206: cited by James
Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, University
of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page
 A. Irvine, Journal of
Semitic Studies 10, (1965), pages 178-196; A.F.L.Beeston, Proceedings of
the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 17 ( 1987), pages 5-12; quoted by
K.A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool
University Press, 1994, page 39
 James Montgomery, Arabia
and the Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 138
 F.V. Winnett and W.L.
Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press,
1970, page 75
 Revue Biblique,
43( 1934) pp.578-9 and 590-1; quoted by
F.V. Winnett and W.L.
Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press,
1970, page 75
 F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient
Records from North Arabia, page 130
 The Geography of
Strabo, Book XVI .4.23
The Geography of Strabo, Volume V, Harvard
University Press, 1966, page 357
 The Geography of
Strabo, Book XVI .4.24
The Geography of Strabo, Volume V, page
 The Geography of
Strabo, Book XVI. 4 . 24
The Geography of Strabo, Volume V, page
 The Geography of
Strabo, Book XVI .4.23
The Geography of Strabo, Volume VII, page 357
 D. H. Mullar in his
Encyclopaedia Brittanic, 9th edition;
Weber, Arabien vor
dem Islam in Der alte Orient, III, Leipzig, 1901; cited by Wilfred Schoff, The
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt
Ltd., 1995, page 109
I. Eph’al, E.J.Brill, The Ancient Arabs, Leiden, 1982, page 161,
 For “Verse Account of
Nabonidus,” see Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old
Testament, ed. J.B. Pritchard, 2nd edition, Princeton, 1955,
page 313; Sidney Smith, Babylonian Historical Texts, London, 1924,
Chapter III, pp. 27-97 ;quoted by F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records
from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page 89
 See C.J. Gadd “The
Harran Inscriptions of Nabonidus,” Anatolian Studies, 8 (
1958) page 59; cited by F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from
North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page 91;
The exact part in the Harran Inscriptions is (Nab. H2 I 26; ii 11) see I.
Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, 180
The Periplus of the
33;The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Translated by Wilfred
Schoff, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd, 1995, page 35
 Wilfred Schoff, in his
introduction to The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, page 16
 Hirschfeld, New Researches, 6.
Frankel, Aramaisch. Fremdworter; quoted by De Lacy O’Leary, Arabia
before Muhammed, D.D., London,
New York: Dutton & CO., 1927,
 De Lacy O’Leary, Arabia
Before Muhammed, page 19
 Tarikh al-Tabari, I, page 360
 P. Michalowski, Journal of Cuneiform
Studies, 40 (1988), pages 156-164; citation, p. 163; cited by K.A. Kitchen,
Documentation For Ancient Arabia, Part I, Liverpool University Press,
1994, page 159
 Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, I, Chicago, page 223 ; Rogers, Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testaments, page 296; Barton, Archaeology and the Bible, edition 6, 1933, page 457; cited by Arabia and the Bible, James Montgomery, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 58
 A.C. Piepkorn, Historical Prism of
Assurbanipal, Chicago-USA, 1933, pages 19-20
 Saggs, Iraq 17, ( 1955), pages 142-143; Von
Soden, Orientalia 35, (1966), page 20; cited by I. Eph’al, The
Ancient Arabs, E.J. Brill, Leiden,
1982, page 94
 P. Rost, Die Keilschrifttexte Tiglat-Pilesers III, Leipzig, 1893, pages 150-170; quoted by I. Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, page 82
 The Ancient Arabs, I. Eph’al, page 36
 Winnett, Safaitic Inscriptions
1957, Nos. 87, 237
 Pliny, Natural History, book VI,
 Sawyer John and Clines David, Midian, Moab and Edom, JSOT Press , Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield, 1984, page 101
 Luckenbil, op. cit., vol. II, 7; Rogers, op. cit.,
page 331; Barton, op. cit., page 463; quoted by James Montgomery, Arabia and
the Bible, page 59
 Claudius Ptolemy, The Geography, Book vi,
chapter VII, translated by Stevenson, Dover Publications, 1991, page 139
 Herodotus II, page 141
 Tablet of the British Museum, 103,000 vn 96-viii 1(Luckenbill,
Sennacherib, 113); quoted by I. Eph’al, E.J. Brill, The Ancient Arabs,
 Luckenbill, Records
of Assyria II. 551.
 One such example is
the Cylinder inscriptions found in the city of Nimrud, the most important of which is called
Klch. A; there is also an inscription called "Trb.A- a," cylinder
inscription from Tarisu (see E. Nassouhi, Mitteilungen der altorientalischen
Gesellschaft, III, 1-2, (1927), pages
22-28; quoted by , I. Eph’al, page 45
 Inscriptions from
Nineveh (K 3082+ K 3086+ Sm 2027); see R. Borger, Die Inschriften
Asarhaddons, Konigs von Assyrien, Graz 1956, pages 112-113, quoted by I.
Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, page 46
 Heidel Prism iii,
9-18, quoted by Eph’al, page 130
 The Ancient Arabs, I. Eph’al,
E.J. Brill, Leiden,
1982, page 132
 Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria
and Babylonia, Vol. II, page 214
Nin. A.; Heidel
Prism iii 21;quoted by Eph'al page 131
 Hommel, Ethnologie
und Geographie des alten Orients, Munchen, 1926, pages 558-559; quoted by
 Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, E.J.
1982, page 137
 Luckenbill, op. cit., page 301;
Doughty, Arabia Deserta, Volume I, page 51; quoted by Arabia and the
Bible, James Montgomery, University
of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page
 Annals of Assurbanipal; R.F. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters, I XIV,(London-Chicago, 19140), 350; cited by Eph'al, page 55
 A.R. Millard, Iraq ( 1964), cit. 28 ; quoted by
Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs,
 The Ancient Arabs, I. Eph’al, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1982, page 168
 Arabia and the Bible, James
Montgomery, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 64
 Inscriptions found on Jabal Ghunaym,
about 10 miles from Teima. See F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records
from North Arabia, University
of Toronto Press, 1970,
 Harran Inscriptions Nab. H2 I 26 and Nab. H2 I 24-25; quoted by Eph'al, pages 180 and 181
 E. Ebeling, Neubabylonnische Briefe, Munchen 1949, No. 276; E.W. Moore, Neo-Babylonian Documents in the University of Michigan Collection, Ann Arbor, 1939, No. 67; cited by I. Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, page 189
 R. F. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters, I, XIV, ( London – Chicago 1892-1914) quoted by Eph'al , page 190
 Abdel Monem Sayed, “Reconsideration of the Minaean Inscription of Zayd 'il bin Zayd,” Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, XIV, (1984), pp.93-99; qouted by Stanley Burstein on his comment on Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, The Hakluyt Society London, 1989, page 149
 Memphis text was published by Rhodokanakis in Zeitschr.f.Semitistik, II, (1924), 113 ff; cited by James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 135; there is a dedication by two merchants of Main to the god Wadd on Delos, see Felix Durrbach, ed., Choix d'Inscriptions de Delos, (Paris, 1921-1922), page 129; cited by Stanley Burstein on his comment on Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, page 150;
 See David Graf, Dedanite and Minaean (South Arabia) Inscriptions from the Hisma', Annual of the Department of Antiqueties, XXVII (Amman-Jordan, 1983,) pp. 563-5; cited by Stanley Burstein on his comment on Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, page 149
 Two inscriptions were found at Taj in
Kuweit, Geog. Journal, 1922, page 59; cited by James Montgomery, Arabia
and the Bible, page 166
 A village named in a Greek inscription
as " Pool of the Sabaeans " of Leja, Dussaud, Les
Arabes en Syrie, page 10; quoted by James Montgomery, Arabia and the
Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1934, page 181
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