Archaeological Finds about Thamud
Of those peoples mentioned in the Qur'an, Thamud are some
of the people about whom we have the most extensive knowledge
today. Historical resources reveal that a people called
Thamud indeed existed.
The community of al-Hijr mentioned in the Qur'an are thought
to be the same people as Thamud. The other name of Thamud
is Ashab al-Hijr. So, the word "Thamud" is the
name of a people, while the city of al-Hijr is one of those
cities founded by these people. The Greek geographer Pliny's
descriptions agree with this. Pliny wrote that Domatha and
Hegra were the locations where Thamud resided, and this
latter makes up the city of Hijr today.
The oldest sources known referring to Thamud, are the victory
annals of the Babylonian King, Sargon II (8th Century BC),
who defeated these people in a campaign in northern Arabia.
The Greeks also refer to this people as "Tamudaei",
i.e. "Thamud", in the writings of Aristo, Ptolemy,
Before the Prophet Muhammad, approximately between 400-600
AD, they totally disappeared.
In the Qur'an, 'Ad and Thamud are always mentioned together.
Moreover, the verses advise Thamud to take warning from
the destruction of 'Ad. This shows that Thamud had detailed
information on 'Ad.
To the Thamud people (We sent) Salih, one of their
own brethren: He said: "O my people! worship
Allah: ye have no other god but Him" "And
remember how He made you inheritors after the 'Ad
people and gave you habitations in the land: ye build
for yourselves palaces and castles in (open) plains,
and carve out homes in the mountains; so bring to
remembrance the benefits (ye have received) from
Allah, and refrain from evil and mischief on the
earth." (Surat al-Araf: 73-74)
As understood from the verse, there is a relationship between
'Ad and Thamud, and 'Ad may even have been a part of Thamud's
history and culture. Salih ordered Thamud to remember the
example of 'Ad and to take warning from them.
'Ad were shown the example of Nuh's people who had lived
before them. Just as 'Ad had a historical importance for
Thamud, Nuh's people also had an historical importance for
'Ad. These people were aware of each other and possibly
came from the same lineage.
However, the places where 'Ad and Thamud lived were geographically
quite far from each other. There does not seem to be a relationship
between these two communities; so why is it said in the
verse addressed to Thamud for them to remember 'Ad?
The answer reveals itself after a short investigation.
The geographical distance between the 'Ad and Thamud is
deceptive. Historical sources reveal that there is indeed
a very strong connection between Thamud and 'Ad. Thamud
knew 'Ad, because these two peoples most likely came from
the same origin. Britannica Micropaedia writes about these
people as follows under the title of "Thamud".
In ancient Arabia, tribe or group of tribes that
seem to have been prominent. Although the Thamud probably
originated in Southern Arabia, a large group apparently
moved northward at an early date, traditionally settling
on to the slopes of Jabal (Mount) Athlab. Recent archaeological
work has revealed numerous Thamudic rock writings and
pictures not only on Jabal Athlab, but also throughout
Nabataeans, which was an Arab tribe, had established
a kingdom in the Rum Valley in Jordan. In this place,
also called the Valley of Petra, it is possible to
see the best examples of the stone-carving work of
these people. Also in the Qur'an, Thamud are mentioned
with their mastery of masonry. However, today, what
is left of both of these communities is some remains
that give us an idea of the art of that time. In the
pictures, various examples of the stone-carving work
in Petra Valley are seen..
A script graphically similar to the Smaitic alpabet (called
Thamudic) has been found in southern Arabia and up throughout
script was first identified in a region in north central
Yemen that is known as Thamud, which is bound to the north
by the Rub'al Khali, to the south by the Hadramaut and to
the west by Shabwah.
Before, we had seen that 'Ad were a people living in South
Arabia. It is very significant that some remains of Thamud
were found in the region where 'Ad had lived, especially
around the region where the Hadramites, the descendants
of 'Ad, lived and where their capital city stood. This situation
explains the 'Ad-Thamud relationship noted in the Qur'an.
This relationship is explained as follows in the prophet
Salih's words when he said that Thamud came to replace 'Ad.
To the Thamud people (We sent) Salih, one of their
He said: "O my people! worship Allah: ye have no
other god but Him..." (Surat al-Araf : 73)
And remember how He made you inheritors after the
'Ad people and gave you habitations in the land (Surat
A view of excavation in the region.
Briefly, Thamud paid the price for not obeying their messenger
and they were destroyed. The buildings they had built and
the works of art they had produced could not protect them
from punishment. Thamud were destroyed with a terrible punishment
just like all the other peoples both before and after them
who denied the Truth.