Around the middle of the 1st millennium BC, the Minaeans were among the main players of the Hijazi caravan trade between South Arabia and the regions north of the Arabian Peninsula (Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Levantine coast). The direct proof these activities and of the stable presence of Minaean merchants outside South Arabia are the sixty epigraphs plus some rock texts that we have collected in the Marginal Minaic corpus.
This is not only a geographical distinction: in fact, though being linguistically Minaic, the Marginal Minaic inscriptions show some peculiarities as for grammar, lexicon and formulas.
For the most part, Dedan's texts have been reemployed in the medieval village: they are fragmentary and often difficult to translate. However, some interesting economic and religious matters emerge. Unfortunately, we have no sure date for these texts. The mention of some Minaean kings is not exhaustive and paleography, rather uniform in itself, is not comparable to palaeographic stages of the texts in the Jawf. The data are therefore derived from the Minaic texts on trade that seems to have been particularly active since the 5th century BC.
The two most peculiar Marginal Minaic pieces are those coming from outside the Arabian Peninsula, say from Egypt and Delos. The first (M 338) is the wooden sarcophagus of a Minaean incense trader in Ptolemaic Egypt (probably dating back to 263 BC). It shows an interesting linguistic mixture and a full cultural integration of the trader, whose funeral ceremony is described. The circular altar from Delos (M 349) bears a dedication to Wadd and to the gods of Maʿīn, accompanied by a brief translation in Greek (perhaps a later addition). It probably dates from the 2nd century BC, when the island was conquered by Athens and became a strategic trade point in the Mediterranean.
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