DASI

digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Editor: Jérémie Schiettecatte


Jabal al-ʿAwd
(c) Schiettecatte - CNRS

SITE INFORMATION

Ancient nameʿwdm
CountryYemen
Geographical areaJabal al-ʿAwd
GovernorateIbb
KingdomQataban
Himyar
CoordinatesLatitude: 14° 1' 2"    Longitude: 44° 30' 23"    
Coordinates accuracycertain
Type of siteSettlement
TribeTribe: ḏ-Rydn
Tribe: ḏ-Wdn
Tribe: Ḏbḥn
Tribe: Ḏbḥn ḏ-Ḥmrr
Tribe: Ḫdṣm
Tribe: Mḍḥym
Tribe: Nʾs¹
Tribe: Rʿnn
Tribe: S¹ḫl
Tribe: S¹lmn
Tribe: Ṣbrm
Tribe: Ṯwlm
Lineage: ʿglm
Lineage: Bs¹qm
Lineage: ḏ-Ṯmrm
Lineage: Ḏkrn
Lineage: Ḏrʾn
Lineage: Hṣbḥ
Lineage: Hẓbḥ
Lineage: Ḥʾs²m
Lineage: Ḥlkm
Lineage: Nhrbt
Lineage: Rdʿ
Lineage: S¹mrm
Lineage: Ṣdqn
Lineage: Ṯbw
Lineage: Ṯmrm
Lineage: Yʿgf
Lineage: Ynzr
Lineage: Ẓwmr
Deitiesʾlmqh
ʾlmqh bʿl Ḥmrr
ʾnby
ʿm
ʿṯtr
Rfdn
Rgbm bʿlt Ḥẓrn
Rgbn
Rgbn bʿlt Ḥẓrn
StructuresDwelling (indeterminate)
Dwelling (concentrated)
Light hydraulic structure (ex. canal, well)
Wells, cisterns
Terrace cultivation
Rampart
Small temple
Graveyard
Rock inscriptions
LanguageSabaic, Qatabanic
General descriptionExtension: 7 ha. The site is located at 3000 m of altitude, at a distance of 25 km from the Himyarite capital Ẓafār. It covers an area of about 340 x 250 m.
ChronologyThe archaeological levels so far investigated pointed to a 1st century BC – 3rd century AD occupation. However the inscriptions RES 3858 should be recalled since it states that this area has been involved in a war between Sabaʾ and Qatabān, thus having being under their rule in the pre-Himyarite period. The village ended after an abrupt fire disaster, which could be hypothetically ascribed to the first Abyssinian invasion of the Yemeni Highland.
Archaeological missions1998 / 2006 DAI (Germany)

MONUMENTS

Defensive structures have been excavated in the eastern portion of the settlement, also with the discovery of one of the three city gates. The gateway has recessed chambers and has been built using larger and more carefully hewn stones than the walls. More emphasis has been deserved to the impressive appearance of the structure than to its solidity, since some portion of the walls seems to be weaker.
This is the highest point of the settlement, which contained the most prestigious buildings, like sacred precincts, dwelling or fortifications. This area has been more exposed to pillage and to subsequent reuse and rebuilding, which considerably reduce the possibility of the identification of the more ancient edifices. The most important building occupies the centre of the settlement. It shows a very refined technique, in particular using very well hewn limestone blocks, a material that is not available in this area. The building is divided in three sections: the main entrance leads to a courtyard which is surrounded by a gallery. From this court a narrow passage leads to a domestic structure where several service rooms have been detected. Two stairways let hypothesize that the building had upper floors, whose traces are now completely absent.

  • photoBronze bust of Athena
  • photoInscribed sphinx
  • photoInscribed sphinx
  • photoInscribed sphinx

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NOTES

More dwellings have been investigated in other areas of the site, and in this case the local volcanic stones have been preferred as building material. Here again traces are of the ground floor only, which was designed with a long central corridor, just after the main entrance. Several rooms open from it, while smaller ones are accessible through smaller doors (they probably were stalls).

The funerary costumes that have been here investigated are for the moment unprecedented in pre-Islamic Yemen. All the private houses excavated have revealed at least one room, open to the exterior, which were destined to collective burials. We remember in fact that singular tombs and necropolis were located at a certain distance from inhabited settlements. Textile remains indicate that the corpses were wrapped in cloth for burial. Another burial structure has been investigated in correspondence of the above mentioned main building, here accessories and gift of the deceased are more opulent, with gold jewellery of South Arabian but also of Mediterranean production. This testify a remarkable social stratification.

The great importance of the site comes from the abundance of high quality bronze objects here found. Many of them have been circulating in the Nineties after illegal excavations and the individuation of their place of origin has been the reason to begin scientific investigation on the site. They have a considerable historical significance since they clarify the cultural and artistic milieu that was growing at the beginning of the Himyarite era. The influence of the Hellenistic and Roman taste was very strong, and this is testified both by imported objects (like divine representation of Artemis and Athena) and for locally produced objects which also maintain, however, a strict contact with the local traditions and techniques. This intermediate phase is of the greatest importance in order to fully comprehend the later artistic development of the 4th to 7th centuries Himyarite production (A. Agostini).

RELATED SITES

south of Ẓafār (Ẓfr)

RELATED MATERIAL

Epigraphs in CSAI
Objects in CSAI

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Demange et al. 2009Demange, Françoise, Arbach, Mounir, Mille, Benoît, Pariselle, Christine, Rélolle, Charlotte, Meyohas, Marie-Emmanuelle and Barret, Marylène 2009. Lions du Yémen antique. Brèves incursions dans la mémoire du Yémen. (Actualité du département des Antiquités Orientales, 13). Paris: Musée du Louvre.
Fleischer and Schulz 2012Fleischer, Robert and Schulz, Regine 2012. Figurale Bronzen ägyptischer und griechisch-römischer Art vom Jabal al-ʿAwd, Jemen. Archäologische Berichte aus dem Yemen, 13: 1-90.
Hitgen 1999Hitgen, Holger 1999. Jabal al-ʿAwd. Ein Fundplatz der Spätzeit im Hochland des Jemen. Pages 247-253 in Werner Daum, Walter W. Müller, Norbert Nebes and Walter Raunig (eds). Im Land der Königin von Saba. Kunstschätze aus dem antiken Jemen. 7. Juli 1999-9. Januar 2000. Staatlichen Museum für Völkerkunde München. Germering: I.P. Verlagsgesellschaft / Munich: I.P. Verlagsgesellschaft.
Hitgen 2003Hitgen, Holger 2003. Eine frühhimjarische Bergsiedlung auf dem Jabal al-ʿAwd. Pages 106-115 in Iris Gerlach (ed.). 25 Jahre Ausgrabungen und Forschungen im Jemen, 1978-2003. (Hefte zur Kulturgeschichte des Jemen, 1). Berlin: Deutsches Archäologisches Institute.
Hitgen 2014Hitgen, Holger 2014. Ǧabal al-ʿAwd - Some remarks on the art and types of buildings during early Ḥimyarite times. Pages 245–265 in Alexander V. Sedov (ed.). Arabian and Islamic studies. A collection of papers in honour of Mikhail Borishovich Piotrovskij on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Moskow.
Robin 1996 a: 1127Robin, Christian J. 1996. Sheba. II. Dans les inscriptions de l'Arabie du Sud. Pages Coll. 1047-1254 in Jacques Briend and Édouard Cothenet (eds). Supplément au Dictionnaire de la Bible. Fasc. 70. Paris: Letouzey & Ané.
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Vogt 1999Vogt, Burkhard 1999. Ein Schatzfund und seine unabsehbaren Folgen - Alpinarchaologische Forschungen des Dai am Jabal al-Awd / Provinz Ibb. Jemen Report, 30/1: 5-7.
Vogt, Gerlach and Hitgen 1998-1999Vogt, Burkhard, Gerlach, Iris and Hitgen, Holger 1998-1999. Die Erforschung Altsüdarabiens. Das Deutsche Archäologische Institut Sanaʿa auf den Spuren des Sabäerherrschers Karibʾīl Watar. Nürnberger Blätter zur Archäologie, 15: 133-152.
Wissmann and Höfner 1952: 64Wissmann, Hermann von and Höfner, Maria 1952. Beiträge zur historischen Geographie des vorislamischen Südarabien. (Abhandlungen der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, 4). Mainz: Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur / Wiesbaden: Steiner.
Yule 2013: 14-16Yule, Paul (ed.). Late antique Arabia, Ẓafār capital of Ḥimyar. Rehabilitation of a 'decadent' society. Excavations of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg 1998-2010 in the highland of the Yemen. (Abhandlungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft, 29). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Zech and Weiss 2008Zech, Janine and Weiss, Christian 2008. Die Petrografie himyarischer Keramik vom Jabal al ‘Awd, Jemen. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 19/2: 182-192.