digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Editor: Jérémie Schiettecatte

Ad-Durayb, inscription
(c) Schiettecatte - CNRS


Ancient nameUnknown
Geographical areawādī Raghwān
CoordinatesLatitude: 15° 47' 40.9"    Longitude: 45° 6' 2.8"    
Coordinates accuracycertain
Type of siteReligious area
Deitiesʾlmqh ḏ-Ntgm
StructuresLight hydraulic structure (ex. canal, well)
Isolated temple
Rock inscriptions
Location and toponomyAl-Durayb is in the wâdî Raghwân, between Maʾrib and the valley of the Jawf. The site is located between al-Asâḥil and Kharibat Saʿûd.
Philby (1939: 402-403) erroneously interpreted the toponym Ktl, mentioned in the inscriptions from the site, as the ancient name of the site itself. Now we know that Ktl is the ancient name of the nearby site of Kharibat Saʿûd.
History of research1930’s: Philby visits and describes the site
1980: MAFRAY (dir. Robin): visit to the site, copy of inscriptions
General descriptionAl-Durayb is a small settlement now located on what Philby hypothesised was an ancient Sabaean site, with a temple (Philby 1939: 402-403). The modern buildings reemployed numerous stone blocks, namely elements of entablature with dentils. An altar in alabaster (or a base of a statue) with steps has been reemployed in a construction.
Considering the absence of a tell, and of buildings in ruins, Ch. Robin (1980: 135; 1981: 118) does not believe that this site had been occupied in the past. According to him, the ancient stones come from the nearby sites of al-Asâḥil and Kharibat Saʿûd. Indeed, the inscriptions of al-Durayb undoubtedly come from these two nearby sites (RES 3948, MAFRAY-al-Durayb 3, MAFRAY-al-Durayb 4). The texts describe the construction of their ramparts. However his opinion that al-Durayb is only a modern site is questionable when one considers the artefacts visible on the ground: the pottery sherds similar to those of the period of the mukarribs of Sabaʾ (carinated bowls with a burnished slip), the presence of well with stone masonry and a bronze ring with a bezel.
Al-Durayb may have been the place of a sanctuary linked to the ancient city of Ktl (Kharibat Saʿûd), even if this does not rule out the possibility that some stones from nearby sites were reemployed in the modern buildings.
ChronologyAll inscriptions of al-Durayb may be dated to the period of the mukarribs of Sabaʾ (8th-6th century BC).
The pottery sherds (carinated bowls with burnished slip) are equally distinctive of this period.


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Epigraphs in CSAI
Objects in CSAI


Bowen 1958 a: 76Bowen, Richard LeBaron 1958. Irrigation in ancient Qatabân (Beiḥân). Pages 43-132 in Richard LeBaron Bowen and Frank P. Albright (eds). Archaeological Discoveries in South Arabia. With foreword by Wendell Phillips. (Publications of the American Foundation for the Study of Man, 2). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
Philby 1939: 402-403Philby, Harry St John B. 1939. Sheba's Daughters. Being a record of travel in Southern Arabia. London: Methuen and Co.
Robin and Ryckmans, Jacques 1980Robin, Christian J. and Ryckmans, Jacques 1980. Les inscriptions de al-Asâḥil, ad-Durayb et Ḫirbat Saʿûd. (Mission Archéologique Française en République Arabe du Yémen: prospection des Antiquités Préislamiques, 1980). Raydān, 3: 113-182.