Corpus of Northern Middle Sabaic Inscriptions (work in progress)

Editor: Jérémie Schiettecatte

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Robin 1992 a: pl. 5/a
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Ancient nameHrm
Geographical areaJawf - Wādī Madhab
CoordinatesLatitude: 16° 09' 36.9"    Longitude: 44° 45' 50.5"    
Coordinates accuracycertain
Type of siteSettlement
TribeTribe: ʾmrm; ʾmryn (nisba)
Tribe: ʾhl ʿṯtr
Tribe: Hrm
Tribe: Hrmm
Tribe: Kmnhw
Tribe: Mʿn
Lineage: ʾbmʿṯtr
Lineage: ʾkwy
Lineage: ʾls¹ʿd
Lineage: ʿbys¹m
Lineage: ʿgzn
Lineage: ʿs²rn
Lineage: Dd
Lineage: Gnd
Lineage: Grfm
Lineage: Ḫlʿṯt
Lineage: Ḫs²s²
Lineage: Ḫs²s²m
Lineage: Ḥḏmr
Lineage: Ḥrṯ
Lineage: Ḥyr
Lineage: Nʿmn
Lineage: Nḍf
Lineage: Qwbn
Lineage: Rymn
Lineage: S¹ktn
Lineage: S¹lymm
Lineage: S²bʿt
Lineage: Ṣdq
Lineage: Ṣrfn
Lineage: Tṭnt
Lineage: Ṯbrn
Lineage: Zlmn
Nisba: ʾḥnkn
Nisba: Ḥnkytn
Nisba: Tws¹ʾyn
ʾlh S¹ʿydm
ʾlʾlt Hrmm
ḏ-S¹mwy bʿl Mwqṭn
ḏ-S¹mwy bʿl Byn
Mtbnṭyn ʾbḥmy
Mtbnṭyn ʾbrḍw
Mtbnṭyn ʾbs²fq
Mtbnṭyn ʾbs²wr
Mtbnṭyn ʾl Ḫs²s²
Mtbnṭyn ʾl Ṯbrn
Mtbnṭyn ʾlhl
Mtbnṭyn ʾlḥẓr
Mtbnṭyn ʿṯt
Mtbnṭyn Hʿdn
Mtbnṭyn Ṯbrn
Mtbnṭyn Ẓwrʿdn
ʿtr Bʾs¹n
ʿṯtr Bʾs¹n
ʿṯtr ḏ-Ḏbn
ʿṯtr ḏ-Qbḍ
ʿṯtr ḏ-Rgmt
ʿṯtr ḏ-Rḥbh
ʿṯtr S²rqn
StructuresDwelling (indeterminate)
Dwelling (concentrated)
Light hydraulic structure (ex. canal, well)
Wells, cisterns
Building with political function
Small temple
Large temple
Pilgrimage temple
Rock inscriptions
LanguageSabaic, Minaic
Location and toponomyKharibat Hamdān is located in the middle valley of the Jawf, 100 km north-west of Maʾrib and 6 km west of Maʿīn. It is on the left bank of wādī Madhāb.

The site of Kharibat Hamdān or Kharibat ʾl ʿAlī is the current name of the ancient Haram. Haram in antiquity indicated the name of the site as well as the name of the tribe who resided there, together with the surrounding territory. The site still bore the name of Madīnat Haram in the 1940s.
History of researchDiscovery 
J. Halévy, 1870: description of a mound where almost all the remains had disappeared; description of the top of the pillars of an extra muros temple (Halévy 1872: 29-31, 72-74; 1873: 585); copy of 27 inscriptions.

Visits and surveys
1944: M. Tawfiq
1947: A. Fakhry (1952: 143-146)
1978, 1980: French archaeological mission in the Yemen Arab Republic (MAFRAY): plan of the doors of the extra muros temple and of two inscriptions (Robin 1981: 151).
General descriptionThis site is an oval tell about 10 m high called al-Firʿ. It measures around 300 x 400 m with a 10-ha-wide enclosed area. The modern dwellings on top of the tell does not allow the ancient structures to be seen anymore except for the rampart. The thickness of the tell, of maximum 10 m, suggests a relatively long occupation sequence of the site.

Of the ancient rampart, only the western gate is still visible. The rest of the wall has disappeared under the rubble and the modern buildings.

Many temples are known thanks to the inscriptions, but only the remains of one of them are still visible, those of the extra muros temple. These temples are:
- The extra muros temple Hdnn consecrated to the cult of Mtbnṭyn. It was built around the 8th century BC. In the 2nd century BC the temple was re-named ʾrṯt. It was visited up to the end of the 1st century AD.
- The temple Ṯbrn was equally consecrated to the cult of Mtbnṭyn.
- The temple Byn was consecrated to ḏ-S¹mwy, at the turn of the Christian era.
- The temple Mwqṭn was consecrated to ḏ-S¹mwy, at the turn of the Christian era.
- The temple of ʿṯtr ḏ-Ḏbn was built around the end of the 1st century BC.
Mtbnṭyn, ʿṯtr Bʾs¹n and Ydʿs¹mh received a cult during the ancient occupation phase of the site (8th-3rd cent. BC); during a recent phase (2nd cent. BC-1st cent. AD), the divinities worshipped on site were mainly ḏ-S¹mwy, ʿṯtr ḏ-Ḏbn, ʿṯtr S²rqn and Ḥlfn.

This site is the political and institutional seat of an autonomous city-State. Its ruler bore the title of king (mlk).

Even though no plan of the surrounding areas has been traced, the accumulation of alluvial sediments and the epigraphic findings revealed the existence of an irrigated perimeter around the site since the most ancient phase of its occupation.
Chronology[By A. Agostini]
The absence of archaeological excavations greatly limits the chronological and monumental analysis of the site, but according to the tell thickness and the epigraphic data, it is possible to hypothesise an occupation going back to the first half of the 1st millennium BC. The site seems to have been an independent political entity during 8th and 7th centuries BC, when the title of king was used, but the territory under control was however very limited.
During the campaigns of Krbʾl Wtr, Haram was a Sabaean ally. At some moment in the following centuries BC it is probable that the town was under Minaean control.
From the 2nd century BC, the political and social situation changed and the site was inhabited by the tribe of Amīr showing Sabaic linguistic traits mingled with Arabic influences ('pseudo-Sabaic'). Onomastics and pantheon have sensibly changed as well.
The latest inscription found on the site, Haram 28, could be dated c. 1st cent. AD. There is no evidence for an occupation until the Islamic period.
The site is now partly occupied by a modern settlement.
Classical sourcesPliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, VI, 32, 157 (Carmei ?)


[By A. Agostini] The vast majority of the walls has now completely disappeared, while only on the eastern side a trace of a gate is partly visible, which is formed by limestone regular blocks. The construction inscriptions so far detected are scarce and limited to the last centuries BC, for this reason any historical hypothesis about the evolution of this structure is not attainable.
[By A. Agostini] This temple is known mainly thanks to the travel reports of Halévy (Ḥabshūsh) and Fakhry. Accordingly, it has been hypothesized (Breton) that the original layout should have been very close to that of the temple extra muros of as-Sawdāʾ (ʿAthtar dhū-Riṣaf): it should be reconstructed as a court temple with two rows of pillars inside the main hall supporting the lateral porticos. The entrance probably was through a covered passage delimited by four door jambs at each corner. The visible parts only consist of two portal jambs and a monolithic lintel (4 x 1.4 m). All of them have been fully decorated with the incised repertoire traditionally named of the 'Banāt ʿAd' (ibexes, intertwined snakes, lances, ostriches, and human figures on face positioned on a small podium and holding on the right hand a bent stick). Such decorations suggest to date a first phase of the temple at an ancient epoch (i.e. around 8th century BC). The temple was in use also after the social changes that Haram underwent from the 2nd century BC onward, at that time in fact the shrine was dedicated to Ḥalfān and, as a pilgrimage sanctuary, it became the sacred destination for the tribes of Amīr, ʿAthtar and Ḥanakī.

  • photoFragments of Temple Lintels
  • photoDecoration of the temple entrance
  • photoParticular of the 'Banāt ʿAd' decoration.


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near al-Ḥarāshif (Ḥmrw (?) / Tḥty (?))
near al-Ḥazm (Unknown)




Arbach and Audouin 2007: 40-47Arbach, Mounir and Audouin, Rémy 2007. Collection of Epigraphic and Archaeological Artifacts from al-Jawf Sites. Ṣanʿâʾ National Museum. 2. Ṣanʿāʾ: UNESCO-SFD / Ṣanʿāʾ: National Museum. [Text in English and Arabic]
Audouin 1996Audouin, Rémy 1996. Étude du décor des temples des Banāt ʿĀd. Pages 121-142 in Christian J. Robin and Iwona Gajda (eds). Arabia Antiqua. Early Origins of South Arabian States. Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Conservation and Exploitation of the Archaeological Heritage of the Arabian Peninsula held in the Palazzo Brancaccio, Rome, by IsMEO on 28th-30th May 1991. Rome: Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente.
Breton 1994 c: 130, 161Breton, Jean-François 1994. Les fortifications d'Arabie méridionale du 7e au 1er siècle avant notre ère. (Archäologische Berichte aus dem Yemen, 8). Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.
Breton 1998 a: 68-72Breton, Jean-François 1998. Les Temples de Maʿīn et du Jawf (Yemen): état de la question. Syria, 75: 61-80.
Fakhry 1952: 143-146Fakhry, Ahmed 1952. An archaeological Journey to Yemen (March-May 1947). (3 vols), Cairo: Government Press.
Garbini 1973 eGarbini, Giovanni 1973. Haram: una città minea alleata di Saba. Semitica, 23: 127-132.
Halévy 1872: 29-31, 72-74, 152-163Halévy, Joseph 1872. Rapport sur une mission archéologique dans le Yémen. Journal Asiatique 6e série, 19: 5-98; 129-266; 489-547.
Halévy 1873: 583-586Halévy, Joseph 1873. Voyage au Nedjrân. Bulletin de la Société de géographie 6e série, 1/6: 5-31; 249-273; 581-606.
al-Ḥiwālī 1967 b: 175al-Ḥiwālī, Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Akwaʿ 1967. Kitāb al-Iklīl li-lisān al-Yaman Abī Muḥammad al-Ḥasan ibn Aḥmad ibn Yaʿqūb al-Hamdānī, al-ǧuzʾ al-ṯāmin. Cairo.
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Robin 1991-1993 cRobin, Christian J. 1991-1993 [1992]. La pénétration des Arabes nomades au Yémen. Pages 71-88 in Christian J. Robin (ed.). L'Arabie antique de Karibʾîl à Mahomet. Nouvelles données sur l'histoire des Arabes grâces aux inscriptions. (Revue du Monde Musulman et de la Mediterranée, 61). Aix-en-Provence: Édisud.
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Ṭaīrān 2006Taīrān, Sālim A. 2006. A New Minaean Inscription from Haram: a Study of its Linguistic, Religious, and civilization Significance. Adūmātū, 1: 7-26. [Arabic]
Wissmann 1964 a: 84, 93, 101Wissmann, Hermann von 1964. Zur Geschichte und Landeskunde von Alt-Südarabien. Sammlung Eduard Glaser. 3. (Sitzungsberichte der Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-historische Klasse, 246). Vienna: Böhlaus.
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