digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Editor: Jérémie Schiettecatte


Ancient nameMnhytm l-yṯʿʾmr / Mnhtm / Mnytm
Geographical areaJawf - Wādī al-Buhayra
CoordinatesLatitude: 16° 11' 32.8"    Longitude: 44° 27' 06.4"    
Coordinates accuracyapproximate
Type of siteSettlement
TribeTribe: Ḍyftn
Tribe: Rkbn
Tribe: Rṯḥm
Tribe: S¹ʾkln
Tribe: S¹bʾ
Tribe: S³ybn
Lineage: Gdnm
Lineage: Ṯbrn
Lineage: Yṣbr
Lineage: Yzʾn
Rḥmnn bʿl s¹myn w-ʾrḍn
StructuresDwelling (indeterminate)
Dwelling (concentrated)
Light hydraulic structure (ex. canal, well)
Rock inscriptions
Location and toponomyThe site of Ḥizmat Abū Thawr is located along the upper course of the Jawf valley, downstream the confluence of wādī al-Khārid and wādī as-Surayra, 100 km north-north-east of Sanaa, 130 km north-west of Maʾrib and 37 km west of al-Ḥazm, the current administrative centre of the governorate of the Jawf.

Place names
H. von Wissmann suggests Ḥizmat Abū Thawr to be identified as the ancient Mnhytm / Mnhtm / Mnytm (Von Wissmann 1976 : 98).
Robin (1986: 190) indicates that the name seems to have evolved, from l-Yṯʿʾmr in the 8th cent. BC to Mnhytm l-Yṯʿʾmr in the 7th cent. BC, then to a shorter version as simply Mnhytm / Mnhtm.
Al-Sheiba questions the identification of Ḥizmat Abū Thawr with Mnhytm and Mnhtm mentioned in CIH 79 and RES 3945, accepting only Mnytm in CIH 368.
During the medieval period, the site appeared under the name of ʿAmrān (Robin 1995 : 145).
History of researchDiscovery
1872 - J. Halévy (1872: 92, 247, 513): copy of an inscription

1957 - B. Condé
1983 - MAFRAY: brief epigraphic exploration and surface study; plan of the rampart (Robin 1986, 1992; Breton 1994).
General descriptionThis site is a small tell in the centre of a sediment accumulation.
The fortified space measures 100 x 75 m. Few scattered dwelling structures with a stone basement are visible on the surface. A rampart with protruding and re-entrant parts is preserved on the northern and eastern borders of the site.
The inscription MAFRAY-Ḥizmat Abū Thawr 1 recalls the fortification of the site by the Sabaeam mukarrib S¹mhʿly Ynf bn Ydʿʾl.
The site benefits from the perennial water of wādī al-Khārid; an irrigated perimeter was set for cultivation around this area, as witnessed by the vestiges of hydraulic structures (Robin 1986: 184), and inscription RÉS 3943 which mentions the building of a dam and of the retention basin of Mnhyt in the 7th cent. BC.
ChronologyAccording to the inscriptions from the site, or mentioning it, the beginning of the site occupation may be dated no later than the 8th century BC. The site was then in all likelihood a Sabaean colony in the upper part of the valley of the Jawf (Schiettecatte 2011: 87).
The date when the site was abandoned is unknown. Around the 1st century BC, the tribe of Mnhytm is mentioned in the text Gl A.744 but it is impossible to know if the site bearing the same name is still inhabited. If we agree in recognising in the toponym Nestum, mentioned by Pliny (Hist. nat. vi, 32, 160), the Latin form of Mnhyt/Mnht/Mnyt, then it would be possible that the site fell under the attacks of the Roman army of Aelius Gallus at the end of the 1st millennium BC.
The inscription MAFRAY-Abū Thawr 4, dated to AD 486, was found a few hundred metres away from the site. It describes the building of the S²bʿn palace and of the cultivation of wādī Ghaylān by the members of the lineage of Yazʾanides, qayl of the tribe of Rathaḥum, Ḍayfatān, Sakalān and Rakbān. The inscription could provide evidence of a nearby site during the Late Antiquity period.
Classical sourcesPliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, VI, 32, 160 : Amnestum / Nestum (?)


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Identification with Amnestum / Nestum proposed by H. von Wissmann (1976: 98).


near Bayt Nimrān (Nmrn)


Epigraphs in CSAI
Objects in CSAI


Breton 1994 c: 152Breton, 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.
Halévy 1872: 92, 247, 513Halévy, Joseph 1872. Rapport sur une mission archéologique dans le Yémen. Journal Asiatique 6e série, 19: 5-98; 129-266; 489-547.
Robin 1986Robin, Christian J. 1986. Du nouveau sur les Yazʾanides. Appendice. Les inscriptions Mafray-Abu Ṯawr 1-3. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 16: 181-197.
Robin 1995 aRobin, Christian J. 1995. Des villes dans le Jawf du Yémen ?. Semitica, 43-44: 141-161.
Schiettecatte 2011: 86-87Schiettecatte, Jérémie 2011. D'Aden à Zafar. Villes d'Arabie du Sud préislamique. (Orient et Méditerranée, 6). Paris: de Boccard.
al-Sheiba 1987: 55al-Sheiba, Abdullah Hassan 1987. Die Ortsnamen in den altsüdarabischen Inschriften (mit dem Versuch ihrer Identifizierung und lokalisierung). Archäologische Berichte aus dem Yemen, 4: 1-62.
Wissmann 1976 aWissmann, Hermann von 1976. Die Geschichte des Sabäerreichs und der Feldzug des Aelius Gallus. Pages 308–544 in Hildegard Temporini (ed.). Politische Geschichte. (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase (eds), Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt. Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung. II. 9/1. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter / New York: Walter de Gruyter.