Tombs of Hegra

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)2008

UNESCO World Heritage

UNESCO World Heritage

The tomb craftsmen of Hegra were exceptionally skilled, planning and carving out the design and layout of each tomb so that it was adapted to the size and shape of the natural rock outcrops, and accommodating any defects or geological characteristics such as quartz seams running through the rock.
A number of tombs at Hegra are unfinished, shedding light on how they were carved. The carving of the tombs from the top down would have allowed the craftsman to stand on a ledge to carve the face as they descended.
Tomb IGN 91 is an interesting example of an unfinished tomb, having been carved only around half-way down, stopping at the top of the column capitals. Why the unfinished tombs were abandoned is generally unclear, but may have been due to irreconcilable defects in the stone or that the overall quality of the sandstone was not judged sufficient. In the case of tomb IGN 91, the occupier may have decided to still use the tomb despite abandoning it – a niche cut into the façade in the centre below the crowsteps can be seen, and may have contained the remains of its owner. Perhaps this was a way to avoid losing the investment already made in the tomb.


  • Title: Tombs of Hegra
  • Creator: Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)
  • Date Created: 2008
  • Location Created: Saudi Arabia
  • Rights: Mohammed Babelli
  • Location: Saudi Arabia
  • Inscription Criteria: Criteria: (ii)(iii)
  • Date of Inscription: 2008
  • Category of Site: Cultural site

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