digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Editor: Jérémie Schiettecatte

Aerial view
Doe 1971: 114
Image free from copyright


Ancient nameHrbt
Geographical areaWādī Ḥarīb
CoordinatesLatitude: 14° 53' 33.4"    Longitude: 45° 30' 50.66"    
Coordinates accuracycertain
Type of siteSettlement
TribeTribe: ḏ-Hrbt
Tribe: ʾhrbn (nisba)
Tribe: Ḥlzwm
Tribe: Qtbn
Lineage: ʾbrn
Lineage: ʾs²s²
Lineage: ʾys²r
Lineage: ʿs³bm
Lineage: Bʿgm
Lineage: ḏ-Ḥmym
Lineage: Ḏrʾn
Lineage: Hbʾ
Lineage: Hbrrm
Lineage: Hfn ʾlnʾd
Lineage: Ḫmrn
Lineage: Ḫs²n
Lineage: Ḫtynm
Lineage: Ḫwln Ḥr
Lineage: ḥbn
Lineage: Ḥys¹n
Lineage: Lms¹m
Lineage: Mʿhr Rt
Lineage: Mdhm
Lineage: Mḥḍrm
Lineage: Mwyn
Lineage: Ngrn
Lineage: Qfln
Lineage: Qḥḏm
Lineage: S²ḥz
Lineage: S²yṭm
Lineage: 2Ṣfydn
Lineage: Ṣmt
ʿm ḏ-Rymtm
ʿm ḏ-S²qr
ʿm Ryʿn
ḏt Ḥmym
Ḥrb ḏ-Wʿrm
Ḥwkm Nbṭ
StructuresDwelling (indeterminate)
Dwelling (concentrated)
Light hydraulic structure (ex. canal, well)
Building with political function
Small temple
Large temple
Rock inscriptions
General descriptionExtension: 3 ha. The site lies on the left side of wādī ʿAyn at 34 km SW from Hajar Kuḥlān. Its strategic position commands the western end of the Mablaqa Pass. The site was completely walled in a trapezoidal shape, measuring about 250 x 100 m. Other structures have been erected outside of the northern limit. According to the first visitors it was a centre of metallurgic activities.
ChronologyThe site has never been excavated and very rarely visited. According to inscriptions, the visible part is to be attributed to the last phase of Qatabanian kingdom, thus in the last centuries of the 1st millennium BC. It is known that a vast community originating from this site later moved to the Highland (viz. Ẓafār).
Classical sourcesPliny the Elder, Nat. Hist. VI, 32, 160 (1st cent. AD): Caripeta
Identification1890s: C. de Landberg [G. Bury]
Travellers1948: N. Groom
1960s: A.F.L. Beeston
1970s: B. Doe
Archaeological missions1987: Mission Archéologique Française


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Even in absence of scientific diggings, the site can be easily described because it is free from blown sand. The city walls have been realized by the junction of the most external structures, sometimes linked by ramparts, thus recalling some of the most ancient wall rings in other South Arabian sites (e.g. Yalā). However, the oldest inscriptions so far referring to construction works on the city walls go back to the 3rd century BC. The vast majority of the visible structures were probably houses and they consist of massive stone basements of rectangular shape, with orthogonal walls at the interior, some of them have used a more refined ashlar masonry while others have more rough hewn stones. The southern edge of the walls, that facing the lower external settlement, is characterized by some structures close to each other, irregularly positioned, thus leaving some narrowing passages between them. In this area some external independent towers have been erected just outside the site limit (at a distance of about 3 m) in order to protect those passages in front of which they were standing. According to the more refined technique here used, they must have been erected only at a later stage in respect to the ramparts of the rest of the walls. The main passage was probably that on the western limit of the site, which was later enlarged outward.

At the SW corner of the site an imposing building stands: it is a rectangular basement with two large bastions at the rear corners, the entrance is through a paved court and steps are leading W from the city level. This building, probably a temple, was once extra-muros and only in a later phase has been included within the enlarged site.

Note by A. Agostini.


north-west of Jabal Qarn ʿUbayd (Unknown)


Epigraphs in CSAI
Objects in CSAI


Arbach 2002Arbach, Mounir 2002. Nouvelle inscription du règne de Yadaʿʾb Dhubyan Yuhanʿim roi de Qataban et Yadaʿʾab Ghaylān roi de Hadramaout. Raydān, 7: 110-120. [in Arabic]
Beeston 1962 a: 49-50Beeston, Alfred F.L. 1962. Epigraphic and Archaeological Gleanings from South Arabia. Oriens Antiquus, 1: 41-52.
Breton 1991: 59-85Breton, Jean-François 1991. A propos de Naǧrân. Pages 59-85 in Études sud-arabes. Recueil offert à Jacques Ryckmans. (Publications de l'Institut Orientaliste de Louvain, 39). Louvain-La-Neuve: Université Catholique de Louvain, Institut Orientaliste.
Breton 1988: 98-99, 106Breton, Jean-François 1988. Les villes d'Arabie méridionale. Pages 95-107 in Jean-Louis Huot (ed.). La ville neuve. Une idée de l'antiquité?. (Les cahiers du groupe scientifique Terrains et Théories en archéologie, 1). Paris: Editions Errance.
Breton 1991Breton, Jean-François 1991. A propos de Naǧrân. Pages 59-85 in Études sud-arabes. Recueil offert à Jacques Ryckmans. (Publications de l'Institut Orientaliste de Louvain, 39). Louvain-La-Neuve: Université Catholique de Louvain, Institut Orientaliste.
Breton 1994 c: 54-55, 120-122Breton, 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.
Breton et al. 1998: 127-194Breton, Jean-François, Arramond, Jean-Charles, Coque-Delhuille, Brigitte and Gentelle, Pierre 1998. Une vallée aride du Yémen antique. Le wādī Bayhān. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations.
Doe 1971: 225-226Doe, D. Brian 1971. Southern Arabia. London: Thames and Hudson.
Doe 1983: 128-129Doe, D. Brian 1983. Monuments of South Arabia. (Arabia past and present, 12). Naples: The Falcon Press / Cambridge: The Oleander press.
Loreto 2011: 169-172Loreto, Romolo 2011. L’architettura domestica e i Palazzi Reali di epoca sud arabica nello Yemen pre-islamico (VII sec. a.C. – VI sec. d.C.). With foreword by Alessandro de Maigret. (Collana di Ateneo Dissertationes, 7). Naples: Università degli studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”.
Maraqten 2013Maraqten, Mohammed 2013. Two Qatabanian inscriptions from Ḥinū az-Zurayr. Pages 73-82 in Françoise Briquel-Chatonnet, Catherine Fauveaud and Iwona Gajda (eds). Entre Carthage et l’Arabie heureuse. Mélanges offerts à François Bron. (Orient & Méditerranée, 12). Paris: de Boccard.
Schiettecatte 2011: 139-143Schiettecatte, Jérémie 2011. D'Aden à Zafar. Villes d'Arabie du Sud préislamique. (Orient et Méditerranée, 6). Paris: de Boccard.
al-Sheiba 1987: 58al-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: 189Wissmann, 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.
Wissmann 1968: 20-21Wissmann, Hermann von 1968. Zur Archäologie und antiken Geographie von Südarabien. Ḥaḍramaut, Qatabān und das ʿAden-Gebiet in der Antike. (Uitgaven van het, Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut te İstanbul, 24). Istanbul: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten.
Wissmann 1976 a: 471-474Wissmann, 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.