Amongst the most significant discoveries in all of AlUla is the city of Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan kingdoms. The city, which was built meticulously from stone and astride the valley’s oasis, dates back between the late 9th and early 8th century BCE (Kingdom of Dadan) and 5th–2nd century BCE (Kingdom of Lihyan).
What You Can't Miss
One of the most exciting displays is more than a dozen tombs cut into the red-rock cliff faces, east of the city. From afar, these look like simple dark rectangles. A closer look reveals skilfully crafted funerary monuments, including the seated lion sculptures that mark the famous Lion Tombs. Lions symbolised power and protection and may have marked the burial of an elite member of society, perhaps even a member of royalty. These tombs are up to 50 metres above ground level, spurring the imagination of how they were carved without modern construction equipment.
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As a modern visitor to Dadan, you will discover evidence of defence, agricultural and water-management innovations. Even the date palms grown as crops can still be seen here today.
Inscriptions feature terms relating to agriculture, including the seasons, types of produce, water and parcels of land. Around this ancient valley, you can observe other inscriptions in Dadanitic. These writings detail the everyday lives of these once-great civilisations, from their religious practices and social activities, to the laws and edicts that governed them.
Discoveries of sculptural items through archaeological excavations in Dadan, suggests that a sculpture school or workshop may have existed in the area. Several statues are life-sized or larger, with some measuring up to 2.7-metres tall. They are all similar in appearance, depicting men with strong limbs, defined stomachs and broad shoulders, with hands clenched, the left foot forward and a stern gaze. Researchers do not know exactly who the statues represent, but it is likely they were carved for high-status members of society.
Due to Covid-19 health and safety precautions, Dadan is operating at a limited capacity.
To avoid disappointment, we recommend you book Dadan tickets online
Alternatively, you may purchase your tickets at the information desk located at Winter Park, before starting your experience at the Dadan visitor centre.
Body temperature checks are being carried out on all visitors arriving. Furthermore, in all public places, people are reminded to wear masks and maintain a safe distance of two metres apart and avoid physical contact unless absolutely necessary.
Staff and visitors alike are being prompted to wash their hands frequently with soap and water. You’ll find plenty of sanitisation stations at the main sites. Where handwashing facilities are not immediately available, sanitiser gel dispensers are provided.
A number of essential employees are on-site at any one time. Staff who come into contact with visitors are provided with masks and gloves. High-touch items and surfaces are disinfected frequently and areas are kept well ventilated.
A dedicated security team is on hand to help ensure the guidelines are observed. If you have any questions relating to travelling during the Covid-19 pandemic, please call the national helpline for tourism queries on 930, which is staffed around the clock.