digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Depository Information

This section contains information regarding where the artefact is at present conserved:
  • the town (“settlement”)
  • the name of the institution (“institution”)
  • the archive number (“identification number”) of the object
  • (where applicable) the indication that the object forms part of a private collection.

Object Information

Every inscription is associated with an object – the material support on which it was written.
DASI is also engaged in cataloguing objects in collections worldwide that do not bear any inscription but are of scholarly interest.
Support type
We have made a broad, primary distinction between monumental inscriptions and inscriptions on objects. However, it was deemed useful to distinguish between the inscription carved on an object and therefore the product of a craftsman’s workshop, and inscriptions carved into the living stone of a mountain or hillside, or on city walls and gates, as well as inscriptions carved on monumental stelae, large objects meant to stand in a public place, be it a temple chamber or a town square.
In selecting the criteria to define such supports, however, ambiguities were often encountered.
For example, all construction inscriptions are texts carved on monumental supports, but a criterion to distinguish inscriptions on city walls from other construction texts was made in order to avoid overlapping sub-categories and to ensure that a cross-check of all the data can be carried out during a search. If we had considered every construction inscription to be an inscription on a monumental support, there would have been considerable overlapping. Describing a text as being carved on a city wall or gate adds information because such texts can range from construction inscriptions to legal or dedicatory epigraphs.
We also created an indeterminate category – “stone inscription” – for epigraphs that do not fit into the category of monumental texts and are not carved on an artistically definable object.
Here you will find a selection of the most common types of artefacts that exemplify South Arabian art. If present in the inscription, the common noun referring to the support is recorded between brackets.
More than one type of material may have been employed in the fabrication of an artefact.
When it was not possible to determine the kind of stone used, the generic information “stone” is provided.
All measurements are expressed in centimeters (cm.). Abbreviations used:
  • h. = height (vertical measure)
  • w. = width (horizontal measure of the main face of the object)
  • th. = thickness (horizontal measure of the secondary face of the object)
  • d. = diameter (for circular objects)
  • wg. = weight (in grams).
Much work has been done on the section of the card devoted to the artistic aspects of the epigraph and its support, with a view to creating comprehensive iconographic indices, in which the main decorative elements of interest are listed. Here you will find a selection of artefacts that illustrate the most common categories of iconographic elements associated with South Arabian art. These lists will be continually updated.
Notes on the support and decoration
This field will contain any additional information relevant to the object and its decoration.

Origin and Provenance

An object card may be linked to one or more site cards, depending on its origin and provenance.
Origin / Provenance
Each object may be linked to one or more sites; for example, the artefact could have been produced in one location and discovered in a completely different place.
The origin site of the object is the place where the object was made or originated from. There will usually be some artistic or epigraphic evidence to indicate this.
The provenance site is where the object physically comes from, i.e. where it was found. This site may not coincide with the site of origin, especially if the object has been reemployed in ancient or modern times.
One site may constitute both the origin site and the provenance site, if an object has been found in situ, or internal evidence indicates that where it was found is also where it was made.
The original context of the object represents additional information that may be evident from its archaeological context or from the content of the text inscribed on it (Agricultural irrigation context, Funerary context, Religious context, Urban context). Further relevant information may be available about the structure with which the object is associated (e.g., Temple of Wd, House Yfs², Eastern gate, etc).

Cultural Notes

This site has been designed for use by both scholars and the general public. For the benefit of the latter, a selection of inscriptions is presented that illustrate interesting aspects of ancient Arabian culture.
The notes regarding the objects may be found under the label: Art.


This section of the card contains information on the epigraph(s) inscribed on the object, if any, with a link to the relevant epigraph card.


The bibliography only lists the sources where the epigraph, or the images of artifacts without inscriptions, were first published and the bibliographic references mentioned in the notes of the card. For the epigraphic objects, bibliographic information is also recorded on the relative epigraph card.