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Rajajeel – Saudi Arabia’s Stonehenge

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Protruding out of the desert like fingers of a giant, this Neolithic site is nothing short of an extraordinary.


I was on a business trip in the small city of Sakaka in the northern part of the country. I was eagerly waiting to get some free time from my schedule to explore. On one of the days I managed to get some hours off, right before sunset.

A colleague of mine suggested we go see Rajajeel, some 10 kilometers out of the city. Once on the road to Rajajeel we were flanked on both sides by towering coniferous trees. I was actually surprised by their sheer size, it was the first time I saw such soaring trees on my travels around the Kingdom that for once didn’t happen to be palm trees.

When we were close to the site we noticed that the trees abruptly ended. Following which was an open pan of desert encircled by mountains and trees, in the center of which stood this semi-sedentary site.

These huge stone stelae were erected for cultural purposes and are believed to represent the deceased, however no burials are found at this site. Rajajeel is an important ceremonial site with about 50 groups of vertical standing stone columns some of which are up to 3.5 meters high and are believed by some to be around 6,000 years old.

At the site, groups of four or five stone pillars stand on precise distances forming a semicircle. What we found interesting was that one set of stone columns wasn’t in the semicircle. That particular set of pillars stood solitary a few meters away, almost as if it overlooks the others from afar.

We drove around the ruins; ours was the only car there at that time. Even the museum adjacent to the historical site was closed by then. Our car got stuck in soft sand. All our efforts of trying to move the car from trying to place wooden planks underneath the tires to decreasing tire pressure, none worked.

It was then that another group of tourists came and together we pushed the car with all our strength that we managed to slowly guide the car out of the soft sand portion. We looked back and saw the giant hole the car created; as its tires kept on sinking in the more we tried to accelerate them out of it.

We then finally went inside the enclosure and saw the stone columns up close. It was an amazing sight as it was close to sunset and the last rays of the sun were piercing through the openings between the columns.

We noticed that some of them carried primitive rock art on them. Many pillars were leaning at horrifying angles instead of the upright positions they were originally meant to stand at. Some groups of pillars however, were broken. Whether it was due to weathering or human vandalism, we couldn’t tell.

Even when they stood together they were not all of the same height. But the question that I was left with after visiting the place was how were these pillars made? They obviously were cut from rock, but what were the tools they used and how were they transported here?

Location: 29.87800309999999, 40.10430569999994

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