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).
One of the most exciting displays at Dadan 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 royalty. These tombs are up to 50 metres above ground level, spurring the imagination of how they were carved without modern construction equipment.
Inscriptions also 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.