digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Titles and Concordances

The titles and main alternative titles (concordances) under which the inscriptions were published are given.
Ancient South Arabian
Almost all of the epigraphic material in the DASI database has already been published (with the exception of most of the inscriptions from the museums in Yemen and the USA). Concordances with the most important collections in the world (CIH, RES, M, CIAS, Q, CSAI) are always mentioned.
Ancient North Arabian
At present, only the Dadanitic (formerly "Liḥyanite") inscriptions have been entered in the database, but through cooperation with the Online Corpus of the Inscriptions of Ancient North Arabia, the other Ancient North Arabian inscriptions will be added by 2017. All of those entered have already been published.

Inscription Information

The alphabet in which the text was written is recorded.
Ancient South Arabian
The huge corpora of inscriptions in the ASA languages in this database have been subdivided on either a chronological or a geographical basis or both.
Only the Ḥaḍramitic texts have been gathered together in a single corpus.
The Sabaic documentation has been divided mainly on a chronological basis. The texts up until the 4th century BC pertain to Early Sabaic, while those documenting the last two centuries of South Arabian history (4th – 6th AD) are Late Sabaic. Between these two periods, from the 4th – 3rd century BC to the 4th AD, the inscriptions from the Sabaean homeland are considered to be in Central Middle Sabaic, while those from the high plateau south of Sana have been grouped as Southern Middle Sabaic (see also the remarks on “Chronology”)1 and those from the town of Haram in the Jawf valley and from the wādī Shuḍayf to the north (whose language has elsewhere been referred to as Amīritic, Haramic or pseudo-Sabaic) have been grouped as Northern Sabaic. A further category (Undefined Sabaic) was created to catalogue the Sabaic inscriptions that cannot be assigned to either of those groups because they are fragmentary and/or lack visual documentation or information about their provenance.
The differences in language and provenance of some inscriptions written in the Qatabanic and Minaic languages have led to their being distinguished from the proper Central Qatabanic and Central Minaic inscriptions. The Qatabanic inscriptions from marginal areas can be divided into two groups: Marginal Qatabanic and Awsanite. The corpus of Minaic inscriptions attested outside southern Arabia, for instance in the oasis of Dedan in Saudi Arabia, and a Minaic inscription on an Egyptian sarcophagus, have been assembled in a group that we have called Marginal Minaic.
The inscriptions whose language cannot be identified are grouped in the corpus of Undefined Ancient South Arabian language inscriptions.
Ancient North Arabian
The languages of the Ancient North Arabian inscriptions are often difficult to identify because the texts tend to be short and repetitive. They are therefore usually described provisionally as related "dialects" and referred to by the same names as the scripts in which they are written (Dadanitic, Safaitic, Hismaic, Taymanitic, etc.), unless there is a clear reason not to do so, as in the case of an Old Arabic inscription expressed in the Dadanitic script.
Script typology
Monumental writing (ASA: musnad)
Minuscule writing (ASA: zabur)
Script cursus
Only the indication for boustrophedon texts is given. Where no indication appears, the text is written from right to left.
Writing technique
Ancient South Arabian
The suggested periodization (phases A–E), applies to and is to be used only for Ancient South Arabian (ASA) inscriptions. It corresponds to the various broad periods into which the history of South Arabia is traditionally divided:
  • A – early first millennium to the fourth century BC (predominance of Saba);
  • B – fourth to first centuries BC (predominance of Qataban and Hadramawt, and their alliance with Main). The B Qatabanic period has been further divided into the two periods B1 (fourth to third centuries BC) and B2 (third to first centuries BC) (A. Avanzini, Corpus of South Arabian Inscriptions, I-III, Pisa, 2004, 27-30);
  • C – first century BC to early second century AD (alliances between the tribes of the high plateau and the ASA kingdoms);
  • D – late second to late third centuries AD (wars among the Himyar, Saba and Hadramawt);
  • E – fourth to sixth centuries AD (unification of Yemen under Himyarite rule).
  • Ry – applies only to the ASA minuscule texts and corresponds to the palaeographical divisions established by Jacques Ryckmans (with sub-periods I-IV).
In recent years we have sought to identify further parameters for dating a text, hitherto based on palaeography alone, such as grammar, the evolution of the formularies, and the iconography which, taken together with the palaeography, can help us to follow the evolution of epigraphic styles during the various chronological periods2.

Ancient North Arabian
At present it is impossible to provide a reliable chronology for any of the groups of Ancient North Arabian inscriptions since only a small number can be dated.
In the field Date, when identifiable from the text, the exact year of the inscription, based on a calendar or the year of a king’s reign, is specified
In the handful of cases where an Ancient North Arabian inscription can be assigned a precise date, it will be entered in this field.

Textual typology
Inscriptions can generally be assigned to a specific typology because they follow textual models with fixed formal and structural characteristics. Epigraphs are known to be largely repetitive, but the textual model goes beyond the content of an inscription. It is a unique datum of the epigraphic material. For example, based on the textual model rather than the content, we have classified as dedicatory rather than commemorative those texts in which the military campaigns of the dedicator are set within a dedicatory textual model.
The author deliberately chose which model he wished to follow; therefore these schemas are not reconstructions by modern scholars.
Categories such as the formula, formulary and textual typology form part of and characterize the semantic-syntactic structure of the text.
A formulary pattern is composed of certain constituent parts (lexical items – in particular the main verb of the inscription – and items with morpho-syntactic functions) and their linear layout. Identifying different formularies can shed light on the geographical and chronological differences among the various writing schools.
If the text is fragmentary and the typology is conjectural, this information is provided next to the indication of the typology.
Ancient South Arabian
Most of the monumental inscriptions written in ASA can be classified as either Commemorative texts, Construction texts, Dedicatory texts, Legal texts or (rarely) Abecedaries. The other entries apply only to ASA minuscule texts.
Royal inscriptions
To facilitate research on rulers, their functions, and their activities, a separate category of inscriptions commissioned by kings has been created.

General Notes

This field will provide additional information regarding the epigraph that does not fall within the purview of the apparatus criticus (see Apparatus notes) or the cultural content (see Cultural Notes) of the text.


Editing and Apparatus criticus
  • Wd    Capital letters: all proper names will begin with a capital letter (except in cases of ʾ and ʿ).
  • / /    Ciphers: when a number is written in ciphers in the original text, it will be transcribed using numeric ciphers set off by the sign / (e.g., /11/).
  • ( )     Uncertain or partial reading: when one or more characters are discernable on the support, but are illegible or only partially decipherable.
  • [ ]    Supplied text (restored lacuna): text supplied to complete lacunae where parts of the support have been lost or damaged.
  • [.], [..], [...], [....], [... ...]    Gap (unrestored lacuna): gaps in the text (due to illegible characters, damage, or loss of part of the support) that cannot be restored. For lacunae consisting of more than four signs, the indication for an undefined gap [… …] is used.
  • < >     Addition (restored omitted text): portion of text omitted in the source and restored by the editor
  • <.>,<..>,<…>, <….>, <… …>    Gap (omitted text, not restored): text erroneously omitted in the source, but which the editor is unable to complete.
  • {}     Deletion: text erroneously included in the source and suppressed by the editor.
  • **     Correction (because of a mistake in the source): one or more characters that were wrong or wrongly written in the source are corrected by the editor.
  • (())     Variant (alternative reading or interpretation): a portion of text that may have an alternative reading or interpretation, due to ambiguous characters or doubts regarding the interpretation of proper. All alternatives will be searchable in the text.
  • —    Broken word: used to indicate a line break within a word (i.e., a word is broken and begins on one line and ends on another).
  • -     Clitic: when a word or element (such as a prefix, suffix, conjunction, preposition, relative pronoun or personal pronoun) is not graphically separated from the preceding/following word by a word separator sign in the epigraph, the clitic sign is used.
  • |     Word separator: a word separator sign is transcribed in the text only when it appears at the beginning or the end of a line; otherwise a space is used.
  • ↯    Broken support: this sign is used when the support is broken into several fragments.
  • ±    Change support: this sign appears when the text has been inscribed on different segments of a single support (e.g., different blocks of stone in a wall).
  • →←↑↓    Turn side: when the text has been inscribed on different faces of the support, the Turn side sign marks the turning point. The direction is specified (right, left, up or down) and is determined starting from the side where the inscription begins. This is considered the front side.
  • #    Paraph: marks the presence of paraph signs in the inscription (as in minuscule ASA texts on wooden sticks).
Information on the onomastic data contained in the text can be accessed by clicking on the Markers’ button to activate the display of the textual encoding. Each onomastic category is associated with a specific colour, and pop-up windows with detailed information will appear as you pass the cursor over the text. When names are contained in a portion of text, they are set off between triangular icons.

Onomastic categories
  • Names of individuals:
    • Proper Name – Male / Female / Unknown
    • Patronymic
    • Matronymic
    • Name of King with title
    • Name of King without title
    • Name of Queen with title
    • Name of Queen without title
    • Name of Member of Royal Family
    • Name of Member of Royal Family - Patronymic
    • Name of Member of Royal Family - Matronymic
    • Name of King with royal title - Patronymic
    • Name of Queen with royal title - Matronymic
  • Names of social, political and geographical entities:
    • Name of Lineage
    • Name of Tribe
    • Nisbe
    • Toponym
  • Names of gods:
    • Theonym
    • Epithet of the God
  • Other names:
    • Name of a building
    • Name of a sacred building
    • Name of a month
    • Name of a decade
    • Name of an animal
    • Name of an object
    • Undefined onomastic category
Textual portions
  • Compound name (single names forming units of a compound name)
  • Nominal group (a fixed phrase containing onomastic elements plus non-onomastic elements)
  • Signature (comprises one or more proper names with their specification – i.e. patronymic, group/family, etc. – and, sometimes, the conjunction particles)
  • Eponym (comprises the complete name, i.e., the proper name with its specifications, including patronymic, group/family, etc).
Moreover, the following portions in the Ancient North Arabian texts have been marked:
  • Genealogy (the author's name, patronymic, further genealogy, and/or affiliation to a lineage group)
  • Narrative (the portion of the text that does not form part of the prayer or the genealogy)
  • Prayer (the part of the text containing invocations to the gods).
Apparatus notes
Any notes relating to the edition of the text will be contained in this section of the epigraph card. The number(s) of the line(s) to which the notes refer are given.


As there may be more than one translation of an epigraph, a label indicates the author of the translation and the bibliographical reference is given below the text. When the author is the member of a project group, the following labels are used:
  • CSAI: Corpus of South Arabian Inscriptions project;
  • OCIANA: Online Corpus of the Inscriptions of Ancient North Arabia project;
  • CAI: the Corpus of Aramaic Inscriptions, the label CAI is used.

Object Information

An epigraph card will always be linked to an object card, where information regarding the support is given.

Origin and Provenance

An epigraph card may be linked – via the object card – to one or more site cards, depending on the inscription’s origin and provenance. See the corresponding section under object card.

Cultural Notes

The DASI site has been designed for both scholars and the general public. For the benefit of non-specialists, a selection of inscriptions that shed light on interesting aspects of Arabian culture has been assembled here. They are arranged in four broad categories: religion, society, economics and history.


The bibliography only lists those references that provide a complete edition of the text or a complete set of images of the artefact, plus the bibliographic information cited in the Notes field of the epigraph card.
1. The inscriptions from the Yemeni high plateau should be studied together. This vast region of Yemen to the south of the country’s present capital, Sana, did not constitute a state when the Ancient South Arabian kingdoms were founded. Despite being historically marginal for several centuries it is still fundamental for a close understanding of the history of South Arabia. It produced documentation in Hadramitic, Qatabanic and Sabaic; with the supremacy of the Himyarite kingdom this documentation became exclusively Sabaic.
2. A.F.L. Beeston, Sabaic grammar, Manchester 1984, p. 2; A. Avanzini, Corpus of South Arabian Inscriptions, I-III, Pisa 2004, 27-30); P. Stein, Untersuchungen zur Phonologie und Morphologie des Sabäischen, Rahden/Westf. 2003, pp. 5-7).