digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Editor: Jérémie Schiettecatte

Aerial view from South
Benoist et al. 2007: fig. 12


Ancient nameṮwbt (?)
Geographical areaCentral Ḥaḍramawt
CoordinatesLatitude: 16° 8' 54.5"    Longitude: 49° 16' 30.4"    
Coordinates accuracycertain
Type of siteSettlement
S¹yn ḏ-Mwtr
StructuresDwelling (indeterminate)
Dwelling (concentrated)
Light hydraulic structure (ex. canal, well)
Large hydraulic structure (ex. dam)
Plot of cultivated land
Small temple
Large temple
Rock inscriptions
LanguageSabaic, Ḥaḍramitic
General descriptionExtension: 8 ha. The settlement covers a surface area of 600 m x 400 m (220 x 150 m intra muros). The centre of the site is encircled by a city wall including several large public buildings around an empty space. Two temples have been erected in the southern part of this area. The residential quarter was located outside the central fortified zone.
ChronologySeveral soundings have shown that the site was inhabited from the end of the 2nd millennium BC, though with a different organization of the structures. Archaeological materials and potsherds demonstrated several phases consistent with those already detected in other sites of the region (e.g. Raybūn): a first phase goes back to the 10th – 7th centuries BC, and a second phase to 7th – 5th centuries BC when a first wall circuit was achieved. The following stages (3rd – 1st centuries BC) are those more connected with the building of monumental structures, such as the defensive walls and the shrines, while the site experiences its greatest development. Traces of destruction by fire are visible in levels of the 2nd – 1st centuries BC and probably to be connected with a Qatabanian assault. It is not already clear if this event marks the site's abandonment. Some areas have been reutilised in a late Islamic period.
Identification1930s: D. van Meulen and H. von Wissmann
Archaeological missions1959: G.Lankester Harding
1979: Mission Archéologique Française (dir. J-F. Breton)
since 2002: Jawf-Hadramawt Expedition (France)


Defensive structures have been firstly realized adjoining the most external houses of the site, sometimes linked by ramparts. The walls, thick up to 2 m, show regular buttresses. Three main phases have been distinguished. From the 7th to the 4th centuries BC rough-hewn slabs and mud bricks were used for internal filling. From the 4th – 3rd centuries BC the whole structure was monumentalised using more regular blocks and courses. A third phase shows clear trace of rough material reuse but it could also be dated to an early Islamic period. Two main entrances, protected by two lateral bastions, have been detected at the southern and northern edges, both are L-shaped and paved by limestone blocks. Two double doors probably protected the entrance to the internal site.

  • photoPart of the walls
This monumental stone building stands the northern area of the site. It is centred on a large pillared room just after the main entrance on the western side of the building. The eastern aisle is characterized by a long corridor onto which several small rooms open. A podium was later adjoined on the western side of the main room. A light plaster covered all the internal walls. The original function of the building is not yet clear, even if some of the objects there found should suggest religious connections (e.g. incense burners, offertory tables). A violent fire marks the abandonment of the building at the end of the 1st millennium BC.


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A residential area has been investigated S of the central settlement, the houses used bricks over a stone platform showing a tripartite layout (two rows of rooms separated by a central corridor). According to the artefacts they can be dated between 7th to 4th centuries BC. Two shrines mounted on podiums are located onto a terrace in the SE area of the enclosure. Only foundations have been preserved and they are of rectangular shape (Shrine B : 12 x 8 m and Shrine D : 8 x 6 m). These two sacral structures were connected with Building A which is a massive structure covering an area of 30 x 25 m, including about 40 rooms around a central area, it is probable that it was also associated to the religious sphere (residence for priests ?). One temple was erected outside the fortified area and seven more have been detected on the surroundings, thus delimiting the cultivated area (A. Agostini).


Epigraphs in CSAI
Objects in CSAI


Benoist et al. 2007Benoist, Anne, Lavigne, Olivier, Mouton, Michel and Schiettecatte, Jérémie 2007. Chronologie et évolution de l'architecture à Makaynun: la formation d'un centre urbain à l'époque sudarabique dans le Hadramawt. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 37: 17-35.
Benoist et al. 2014Benoist, Anne, Charbonnier, Julien, Mouton, Michel and Schiettecatte, Jérémie 2014. Building G at Makaynūn: a late pre-Islamic settlement above the ruins of a South Arabian town. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 25: 80-95. 2016/12/01; http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/aae.12036.
Benoist and Mouton 2016Benoist, Anne and Mouton, Michel 2016. Makaynûn, la construction d'un centre régional antique. Pages 145-154 in Guillame Charloux and Jérémie Schiettecatte (eds). Yémen. Terre d’archéologie. Paris: Geuthner.
Benoist, Mouton and Schiettecatte 2005Benoist, Anne, Mouton, Michel and Schiettecatte, Jérémie 2005. Makaynun, un centre régional antique dans le Hadramawt oriental. Pages 59-94 in Amida Sholan, Sabina Antonini and Mounir Arbach (eds). Sabaean Studies (Dirāsāt Sabaʾiyya). Archaeological, epigraphical and historical studies in honour of Yūsuf M. ʿAbdallāh, Alessandro de Maigret, Christian J. Robin on the occasion of their sixtieth birthdays. Naples: Università degli studi di Napoli l'Orientale. [University of Ṣanʿāʾ; Yemeni-Italian Centre for Archeological Reserches Ṣanʿāʾ; Centre français d'archéologie et de sciences sociales de Ṣanʿāʾ]
Breton 1980 aBreton, Jean-François 1980. Religious Architecture in Ancient Ḥaḍramawt (PDRY). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 10: 5-17.
Breton 1980 b: 63-66, 72, 75Breton, Jean-François 1980. Rapport sur une mission archéologique dans le wâdî Ḥaḍramawt (Yémen du Sud) en 1979. Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres: 57-80.
Breton et al. 1980: 16, 39-40Breton, Jean-François, Badre, Leila, Audouin, Rémy and Seigne, Jacques 1980. Wādī Ḥaḍramawt. Prospections 1978-1979. Aden: Centre Culturel et de Recherches Archéologiques.
Harding 1964: 43 - pls. 34, 35, 40Harding, G. Lankester 1964. Archaeology in the Aden Protectorates. London: H.M. Stationary Off.
Mouton et al. 2006Mouton, Michel, Benoist, Anne, Schiettecatte, Jérémie, Arbach, Mounir and Bernard, Vincent 2006. Makaynun, a South Arabian site in the Hadramawt. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 36: 229-242.
Mouton and Schiettecatte 2014: 171-184Mouton, Michel and Schiettecatte, Jérémie 2014. In the desert margins: the settlement process in ancient South and East Arabia. (Arabia Antica, 9). Roma: L'Erma di Bretschneider.
Schiettecatte 2011: 176-181Schiettecatte, Jérémie 2011. D'Aden à Zafar. Villes d'Arabie du Sud préislamique. (Orient et Méditerranée, 6). Paris: de Boccard.
Sedov 2005: 150-152Sedov, Alexander V. 2005. Temples of Ancient Ḥaḍramawt. (Arabia Antica, 3). Pisa: Edizioni Plus-Pisa University Press.
Wissmann and Höfner 1952: 139Wissmann, 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.