In a remarkable discovery, a Thamudic inscription invoking a curse has been found on the Tabhar mountain in the northwest region of Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. The inscription, dating back to the first to fourth century AD, was stumbled upon by Khalid Al-Fraih, a Saudi citizen exploring the area known for its numerous ancient inscriptions and monuments.
Dr. Suleiman Al-Theeb, a distinguished Professor of ancient Arabic writings, shed light on the significance of this find. He explained that the Thamudic inscription, etched onto the facade of a mountain in Wadi Tabhar, utilizes a curse to inflict misfortune upon those who attempt to distort or vandalize it. Al Theeb stated, “What is interesting is that they used curses so that evil befalls … those who distort and sabotage it. This type of curse is well known in the Thamudic, Nabataean, Palmyrian and Safaitic inscriptions. This curse was written, most likely, to intimidate and scare away those who want to destroy their god and the purpose of intimidation by cursing is to maintain and keep what has been written,” he said.
Al Theeb also suggested that the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula during that era were polytheistic and engaged in the worship of idols.
He also revealed that the act of engraving thoughts, emotions, poetry, and even curses onto rocks was not limited to a specific segment of society. People from all walks of life in the Arabian Peninsula enjoyed the freedom to leave their marks on rocks, in stark contrast to Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt, where inscriptions were restricted to the elite and those of high social status.
The professor emphasized the significance of these inscriptions, as they provide valuable insights into the history of past civilizations, and stressed the importance of expert monitoring and documentation to ensure their preservation.
He also shared that it was customary for individuals to inscribe threats, curses, and warnings of divine retribution onto rocks as a means of protecting their property. When disputes arose or conflicts emerged, people would often retaliate by attacking each other's rocks. In response, individuals inscribed ominous words, invoking the wrath of the gods, to deter potential assailants. The fear generated by these curses served as an effective deterrent against the destruction of these sacred rocks.
The discovery of this Thamudic inscription is not a unique case. Many other monuments across the Arabian Peninsula bear inscriptions in the Thamudic, Nabataean, and Safaitic languages, all of which warn against tampering or erasure. These inscriptions stand as enduring reminders of the rich history and cultural heritage of the region.
As archaeologists and historians continue to unearth these ancient inscriptions, they unveil a tapestry of stories and beliefs that deepen our understanding of the past. The preservation of these invaluable relics remains of utmost importance, ensuring that the legacy of these civilizations endures for future generations to appreciate and learn from.