Inscriptions and drawings made by nomads over the centuries, and up to the present, are scattered across the Jordanian desert. The best known among them are the so-called "Safaitic" inscriptions usually found in the north, and their "Thamudic" counterparts in the south. These inscriptions were left by groups of Arabian tribes, mostly between the first century BC and fourth AD, who communicated in two ancient North Arabian languages, using similar scripts affiliated with the South Semitic script. The writings usually contain the name of the author, his tribal affiliation, prayers to the gods, request for better health, and longing to the loved ones. These are often accompanied by drawings from the desert life such as camels, horses, wild game and hunting scenes.
Inscriptions give a perspective of the culture of the Arab tribes in pre-Islamic times; they particularly reflect the high level of literacy among their populations.
© Aus Wandtexten im Jordan Museum