The Alameleh Inscriptions are over 2000 year old Thamudic inscriptions found in the Wadi Rum desert. They depict a large number of camels travelling north. The inscriptions are on an exposed rock face at the base of sandstone cliffs and cover approximately six square metres. The largest individual inscription is a camel that is around one metre tall. Each camel has Thamudic script alongside it to identify ownership.
At the base of many of the sandstone cliffs in the area there is a much harder granite base. This provided the perfect tool to scratch and chisel away the softer sandstone to create 2D figures. The forms and script are not as diverse as those at better known Anfashieh, with few depictions having significant detail. All the camels are facing northward and those with riders are trailing, leading to a conclusion that it depicts a camel caravan. However evidence suggests that various different artists made the inscriptions over time. The variation in Thamudic script that represents both ownership and camel tattoos show they are not made by a single tribe.
Where are Alameleh Inscriptions?
The location, which is near the desert oasis village of At Diseh, sits alongside the cliffs where the valley opens in all directions. As such it would have been a place that offered a good view of the desert access to the south. This may partially explain the northward direction of all the camels depicted. There is evidence in the area that many civilisations mimicked the inscriptions of their predecessors. Khazali Canyon is one of only two locations with proven neolithic engravings in Wadi Rum. In Khazali there are several thamudic engravings from a significantly later period that use the same style, not found elsewhere for that era. It is possible that a single initial image may have inspired the myriad of images that we see today.
The Bedouin tribes were proud of their camels, they were their most valued possession and were widely depicted in the engravings during the period. Each camels is accompanied by a name or tribal marking to signify their ownership. It is thought that various individuals engraved their most liked camels along with their name and branding.
- The largest camel depicted is 1 metre tall. However the second largest camel has the most unique form.
- The riders on the camels appear to be holding disproportionately long spears. The long horizontal lines are said to be lassos. Although all animals are moving in the same direction and have similar features, the inscriptions are not considered to be from a single artist. It is more plausible that different tribes made the engravings over a period of time.