The walled city of Al-‘Ula was founded in 6th century BC, an oasis in the desert valley, with fertile soil and plenty of water.
It was located along “Incense Road”, the network of routes that facilitated the trading of spices, silk and other luxury items through Arabia, Egypt and India. Al-‘Ula stands on the site of the Biblical city of Dedan, but was founded with the ancient North Arabian Kingdom of Lihyan, which ruled from the 5th to 2nd century BC.
The older history of the oasis has been divided into several phases. The Dedanite kingdom spans to the seventh and sixth century BC. Dedan is mentioned in the “Harran Inscriptions”.
In these it is told how Nabonidus the king of Babylonia made a military campaign to northern Arabia in 552 BC or somewhat later, conquering Tayma, Dedan and Yathrib (Medina).
It is thought that around the turn to the fifth century BC the kingdom became hereditary.