digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Editor: Alessio Agostini; Jérémie Schiettecatte

Terrace and Cellae.
Breton 1979: pl. 2a
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Ancient nameUnknown
Geographical areaCentral Ḥaḍramawt
CoordinatesLatitude: 16° 7' 11"    Longitude: 49° 35' 8"    
Coordinates accuracyapproximate
Type of siteSettlement
S¹yn ḏ-Ḥls¹m
StructuresDwelling (indeterminate)
Dwelling (concentrated)
Light hydraulic structure (ex. canal, well)
Large temple
Rock inscriptions
General descriptionThe site is located about 150 km from Sayʾūn. A small sanctuary was detected on the hill flank. It is very likely that this building should have been connected with a settlement down into the valley.
ChronologyThe building has been dated according to a palaeographic analysis of the inscriptions, following Pirenne's framework, to the 4th century BC. However, Breton has been convinced that it should be more ancient, and this should be consistent with the now widely accepted Long Chronology. Its last phase has been dated to the 1 century AD (A.Agostini).
Identification1978: R. Audouin
Archaeological missions1979: MAFRAY (dir. J-F. Breton)


[By A. Agostini] This small building, like most of the temples in Ḥaḍramawt, has been erected on a hillside slope. The terrace, on which the cella stands, has been shaped for a half directly on the bed rock of the hill and the most external portion has been sustained with a stone platform. The access to the terrace is through a monumental stairway facing N and 16.6 m long. The last two steps before entering the terrace are particularly refined and inscribed. Another single bent stairway is above the platform to enter directly into the cella, which is a quadrangular room oriented southward and measuring 6.8 x 6.7 m. A podium was standing in the middle of the side opposite to the entrance and it was realized using very well refined and hewn stones. It measures 1.6 x 1.9 m. Various installations have been discovered inside, and they were probably in situ: offering tables (one with bull-shaped legs) and several gutter fragments which composed a canalisation device in the middle of the cella.

  • photoTemple Plan
  • photoTemple Cellae.
  • photoPodium and Canalisation
  • photoCellae Installations
  • photoAltar or Offering Table (Reconstruction)


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To be identified with the ancient Ḥls¹m ?


Epigraphs in CSAI
Objects in CSAI


Breton 1979: 185-202Breton, Jean-François 1979. Le temple de Syn ḏ-Ḥlṣm à Bâ-Quṭfah (République démocratique et populaire du Yémen). Raydān, 2: 185-202.
Breton 1980 a: 5-17Breton, Jean-François 1980. Religious Architecture in Ancient Ḥaḍramawt (PDRY). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 10: 5-17.
Breton et al. 1980Breton, Jean-François, Badre, Leila, Audouin, Rémy and Seigne, Jacques 1980. Wādī Ḥaḍramawt. Prospections 1978-1979. Aden: Centre Culturel et de Recherches Archéologiques.
Jamme 1963 d: 46-47Jamme, Albert W.F. 1963. Preliminary Report on Epigraphic Research in Northwestern Wâdî Ḥaḍramawt and at al-ʿAbar. Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research, 172: 41-54.
Pirenne 1979Pirenne, Jacqueline 1979. L'apport des inscriptions à l'interprétation du temple de Bā-Quṭfah. Raydān, 2: 203-241.
Prioletta 2006 aPrioletta, Alessia 2006. Appunti per una nuova sistemazione cronologica delle iscrizioni di Raybūn e della valle dello Ḥaḍramawt 2. Le iscrizioni di Bā-Quṭfa. Egitto e Vicino Oriente, 29: 269-286.
Schiettecatte 2011: 216-217Schiettecatte, Jérémie 2011. D'Aden à Zafar. Villes d'Arabie du Sud préislamique. (Orient et Méditerranée, 6). Paris: de Boccard.
Sedov 2005Sedov, Alexander V. 2005. Temples of Ancient Ḥaḍramawt. (Arabia Antica, 3). Pisa: Edizioni Plus-Pisa University Press.
Sedov and Bāṭāyiʿ 1994: 183-196Sedov, Alexander V. and Bāṭāyiʿ, Aḥmed 1994. Temples of ancient Ḥaḍramawt. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 24: 183-196.