digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Editor: Jérémie Schiettecatte


Ancient nameKtlm
Geographical areawādī Raghwān
CoordinatesLatitude: 15° 48' 37"    Longitude: 45° 06' 33"    
Coordinates accuracycertain
Type of siteSettlement
TribeTribe: S¹bʾ
Lineage: ʿs²rm
Lineage: Ḥlḥln
Lineage: Qdrn
StructuresDwelling (indeterminate)
Dwelling (concentrated)
Light hydraulic structure (ex. canal, well)
Wells, cisterns
Plot of cultivated land
Small temple
Rock inscriptions
Location and toponomyLocation
The site of Kharibat Saʿūd is about 100 km north-east of Ṣanʿāʾ, 49 km north-west of Maʾrib, and 40 km south-east of Barāqish, on the left bank of the lower course of wādī Raghwān.

Ancient name: Ktl
H. St J. Philby (1939: 404) saw in the ancient toponym Ktl the current site of ad-Durayb, located a few kilometres south of Kharibat Saʿūd, because of the mention of this toponym in two inscriptions re-used in situ. H. von Wissmann was the first to associate the ancient place name Ktl with the modern site of Kharibat Saʿūd (Von Wissmann 1964: 217-219).
History of researchDiscovery
1870: J. Halévy (1872: 47, 94): copy of 11 inscriptions.

Visits and surveys
1880’s: E. Glaser did not manage to visit the site but he had some prints of inscriptions made.
1936: H. St J. Philby (1939: 403-409): description and copy of inscriptions.
1947: A. Fakhry (1952: 140-141): description.
1970: A. Grjaznevic and P. Costa: copies of inscriptions.
1976 and 1980’s: MAFRAY: copy of inscriptions (Robin & Ryckmans 1980) and map of the site (Breton 1994).
General descriptionThe fortified site of Kharibat Saʿūd forms a rectangle 195 m long and 160 m large, plus an extension on the south-eastern side. Inside, many hillocks witness the presence of dwelling structures with a stone base surmounted by a superstructure in mudbricks. Two circulation axes link the main gates of the site.
The rampart was built in rough stone and interspersed with bastions distributed at regular intervals. It presents at least two gates. The inscriptions found on the rampart allow the construction to be dated to the time of the Sabaean mukarrib Krbʾl Wtr bn Ḏmrʿly in the early 7th cent. BC.

H. St J. Philby mentions the presence of a small rectangular structure in ruins, mainly composed of fragments of white limestone columns and of large squared bricks of limestone. This building was considered to be a temple (Philby 1939: 407-408; Doe 1983: 158-159).
Two temples are known from the texts of the 7th century BC:
- the temple of ḏt-Ḥmym (CIH 494, 496).
- the temple of ʾlmqh (YM 18351).
Other deities are associated with Ktl (Kharibat Saʿūd) but it is not possible to say whether a temple was consecrated to them in situ or not, especially to ʾlmqh Ḥywm (YM 18350), ʾlmqh Nymn (YM 18351), ʾlmqh Ṣbḥhmw and S¹mʿ ḏ-ʾlm (YM 18352).

This site was surrounded by a cultivated area, irrigated by channels and wells. According to the inscriptions, the cultivation was coordinated by the ruler of the community of Ktl, placed under the authority of the Sabaean mukarrib.
ChronologyThe site of Kharibat Saʿūd existed for a short time span. The inscriptions mention the construction of the rampart and of a sanctuary at the end of the 8th century and throughout the 7th century BC. No inscription exists after this period. The surface pottery show the characteristic shape of objects from the first half of the 1st Millennium BC: carinated bowls with red burnished slips (Type 1511 at Hajar Ibn Ḥumayd - Van Beek (éd.) 1969, fig. 94). Similar vases come from Yalā (Maigret (éd.) 1988, fig. 18).
This may be considered as a foundation of the Sabaeans, given the structural regularity of the rampart, and its location (halfway between the core of the Sabaean kingdom and its northern border).


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Epigraphs in CSAI
Objects in CSAI


Arbach and Audouin 2007: 81-86Arbach, Mounir and Audouin, Rémy 2007. Collection of Epigraphic and Archaeological Artifacts from al-Jawf Sites. Ṣanʿâʾ National Museum. 2. Ṣanʿāʾ: UNESCO-SFD / Ṣanʿāʾ: National Museum. [Text in English and Arabic]
Beeston 1976 dBeeston, Alfred F.L. 1976. The location of "KTL". Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 6: 5-7.
Breton 1994 c: 79-81, fig. 1Breton, 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.
Doe 1983: 118-120, 158-159Doe, D. Brian 1983. Monuments of South Arabia. (Arabia past and present, 12). Naples: The Falcon Press / Cambridge: The Oleander press.
Fakhry 1952: vol. 1, 140Fakhry, Ahmed 1952. An archaeological Journey to Yemen (March-May 1947). (3 vols), Cairo: Government Press.
Philby 1939: 403-409Philby, Harry St John B. 1939. Sheba's Daughters. Being a record of travel in Southern Arabia. London: Methuen and Co.
Robin 1995 aRobin, Christian J. 1995. Des villes dans le Jawf du Yémen ?. Semitica, 43-44: 141-161.
Robin and Breton 1981Robin, Christian J. and Breton, Jean-François 1981. Al-Asâḥil et Ḫirbat Saʿûd: quelques compléments. Raydān, 4: 90-96.
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.
Ryckmans, Jacques 1981 b: 256Ryckmans, Jacques 1981. Villes fortifiées du Yémen antique. Bulletin de la classe des lettres et des sciences morales et politiques de l'Académie Royale de Belgique, 67/5: 253-266.
al-Sheiba 1987: 48al-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 1964 a: 216-238Wissmann, Hermann von 1964. Zur Geschichte und Landeskunde von Alt-Südarabien. Sammlung Eduard Glaser. 3. (Sitzungsberichte der Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-historische Klasse, 246). Vienna: Böhlaus.