This thesis deals with the site of al -'Ayun in the area of al -Aflaj in Central Arabia as one of the Early Hellenistic sites in the region. The specific objectives of this work are; 1- identifying more precisely the date of the settlement, 2- exposing the nature and position of the al -'Ayun settlement in relation to the ancient trading route between the Yemen in south Arabia and Gerrha on the eastern coast of Arabia, and 3- trying to find any evidence of the relationship between the three components of the site; that is the settlement, the irrigation system, and the tumulus field.
In order to achieve our objectives, and because of the rarity of information about the site, two field excavations were necessary The first excavation took place between March and May 1988, and the second excavation took place between April and May 1989. The core of this study relies on the information gathered from the excavations.
To put the research in context, the thesis begins with a general introduction to the whole work. It continues with an historical survey of the ancient kingdoms of Southern Arabia, the beginning of the eastern Hellenistic world and its relation with Arabia, and the ancient inland trading routes in Arabia during the 2nd half of the 1st millennium BC. Then it looks in detail at the Hellenistic sites in eastern Arabia and those in Central Arabia. At this stage the thesis introduces the area of al- Aflaj, its geography and history, before reporting the archaeological excavations at the site of al- 'Ayun. The study is completed by an analysis of the objects found at the site i.e. pottery sherds, incense burners, stone artifacts, coins, and a seal with south Arabian script. Finally, after a general discussion and analysis of the results of the excavation, there is a discussion and the general conclusion of this thesis, which is that the settlement at al -'Ayun was an early and short -lived response to the Hellenistic stimulus to Arabian trade between the incense -producing area of the South-west and the port of Gerrha on the Gulf coast.