digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Editor: Jérémie Schiettecatte


Ancient nameʾnbʾ
Geographical areaJawf - Wādī Madhab
CoordinatesLatitude: 16° 07' 35"    Longitude: 44° 54' 30"    
Coordinates accuracycertain
Type of siteSettlement
TribeTribe: ʾnbʾ
Tribe: ḏ-S²rwn
S¹mʿ ḏ-Frʿ
StructuresDwelling (indeterminate)
Dwelling (concentrated)
Light hydraulic structure (ex. canal, well)
Building with political function
Small temple
Rock inscriptions
Location and toponomyThe site of Inabbaʾ is located downstream into the valley of the Jawf, 110 km north-east of Ṣanʿāʾ, 90 km north-west of Maʾrib, and 15 km from al-Ḥazm.
The site is located in the centre of the plain, on the left bank of wādī Madhāb, just before its course plunges into the desert area of Ramlat as-Sabʿatayn.

The inscription Inabbaʾ 1 mentions a king of Inabbaʾ (mlk ʾnbʾ), where Inabbaʾ appears as the name of the kingdom, probably of the tribe which dominated the kingdom, and could also be the name of its capital, whose site is still called Inabbaʾ today.
History of researchDiscovery
1870: J. Halévy: Inabbaʾ is described as a site lacking inscriptions.

Visits & surveys
1981-1988: MAFRAY visits the site in three separate moments.
2006: the inscriptions found during the looting of the site are acquired by the National Museum of Ṣanʿāʾ and published by M. Arbach and R. Audouin (Arbach, Audouin 2007, p. 48-51).
General descriptionWith its square shape, the site of Inabbaʾ measures 245 x 265 m, with a perimeter of 870 m and a surface area of 5.8 ha.
Although no remains of dwellings are visible on the surface, the site extension and its ten metres of stratigraphic accumulation mentioned suggest a long occupation sequence.

J.-F. Breton mentions the presence of a rampart composed of a wall in dressed stone lined with a mudbrick massif (Breton 1994, p. 109).

The inscription Inabbaʾ 1, dated to the end of the 8th century BC-beginning of the 7th, describes the construction of a structure called Yaghūl (Yġl) by Wqhʾl Yfs² bn S¹mhyṯʿ, king of Inabbaʾ. Nothing indicates that this is the residence of the sovereign; anyway, the inscription leaves open the possibility that this city was the place of residence of the king in the 8th century BC.

Hwr, mentioned in the inscription Inabbaʾ 3, was probably the main divinity of the kingdom of Inabbaʾ. The divinity actually appears in the intra muros temple of ʾrnydʿ in as-Sawdāʾ, together with the other main deities of the great tribes of the Jawf (Arbach, Audouin, Robin 2004, p. 30-31).
Another god was worshipped in Inabbaʾ, S¹mʿ ḏ-Frʿ, to which a banquet room was consecrated in the 8th century BC (Inabbaʾ 4), and an altar around the 5th century BC (YM 29828).
ChronologyAccording to the inscriptions, the city of Inabbaʾ was occupied in the 8th cent. BC at the latest. There is no inscription dated after the 5th cent. BC. The site may have been abandoned at that time, possibly for political and environmental reasons (Schiettecatte 2011: 46).
Classical sourcesClaudius Ptolemy, Geogr. 6.7.34 (2nd cent. AD) : Ίνάφα (?)


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Halévy (1872, p. 44) identified Inabbaʾ as Inapha (Ίνάφα), a toponym mentioned by Claudius Ptolemy. According to Halévy, Inapha was located halfway between the Jawf and Gerrha on the side of the Arabian Gulf. This last indication suggests that J. Halévy’s indication is uncertain.


Epigraphs in CSAI
Objects in CSAI


Arbach and Audouin 2007: 48-51Arbach, 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]
Breton 1994 c: 109Breton, 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: 44 (5-98)Halévy, Joseph 1872. Rapport sur une mission archéologique dans le Yémen. Journal Asiatique 6e série, 19: 5-98; 129-266; 489-547.
Robin 1991-1993 b: 58Robin, Christian J. 1991-1993 [1992]. Quelques épisodes marquants de l'histoire sudarabique. Pages 55-70 in Christian J. Robin (ed.). L'Arabie antique de Karibʾîl à Mahomet. Nouvelles données sur l'histoire des Arabes grâces aux inscriptions. (Revue du Monde Musulman et de la Mediterranée, 61). Aix-en-Provence: Édisud.
Robin 1992 aRobin, Christian J. 1992. Inabbaʾ, Haram, al-Kāfir, Kamna et al-Ḥarāshif. Fasc. A: Les documents. Fasc. B: Les planches. Inventaire des inscriptions sudarabiques. 1. Paris: de Boccard / Rome: Herder. [Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres; Istituto italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente]
Robin 1995 aRobin, Christian J. 1995. Des villes dans le Jawf du Yémen ?. Semitica, 43-44: 141-161.
Schiettecatte 2011: 45-46Schiettecatte, Jérémie 2011. D'Aden à Zafar. Villes d'Arabie du Sud préislamique. (Orient et Méditerranée, 6). Paris: de Boccard.
Wissmann and Höfner 1952: 15Wissmann, 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.