Tayma is a large oasis located northwestern of Saudi Arabia on the Tabuk / Madinah road at the edge of western Nefud desert. It lays in a natural depression where a lake formed when the climate of the Arabian Peninsula was more humid.
Today, after nearly 8 000 years of desertification process, Tayma still benefits from natural wells that have been maintained for millennia. Another asset adds to the historical significance of Tayma: its location in a natural corridor between the Nefud Al-Kebir desert on the east and the Sarawat mountains on the west that designated this oasis a major stopover for caravans trading frankincense and other valuable commodities from Yemen.
The importance of Tayma is attested to in many ancient texts where it is mentioned more often than any other place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The ancient oasis of Tayma was protected by a 4 kilometer long compound wall which is believed to have been built by Nabonidus and is still visible, although it can't currently be visited.
Tayma is also famous for a stela, known as the Tayma stone, that was found in the oasis in the late 19th century CE and is today in Le Louvre Museum. It is carved from local stone and is in the form of a flat slab rounded at the top, as is usual with Syro-Mesopotamian stelae.
This important source is often considered in relation to neo-Babylonian expansion and the visit of Nabonidus to Tayma, when Aramaic, the official language of the Babylonian empire, was adopted for writing in Arabia. The stela most likely dates from the end of the neo-Babylonian period or the start of the Achaemenid Persian period. The inscription and decoration are valuable sources of information about the links between Arabia and Mesopotamia in the 5th century BC.
The city has developed around its great well, called Haddaj and is surrounded by agricultural fields with numerous water wells and gardens.