Collection of the objects from the Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale in Rome

By kind permission of Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale, Rome


LanguageAncient South Arabian » Minaic » Central Minaic
AlphabetAncient South Arabian
Script typologyMonumental writing
Writing techniqueIncision
Measure of letters4-4.7
PeriodA. Conjectural
Textual typologyConstruction text


According to Avanzini, the sequence of the mentioned gods suggests that the text is post-Minaean. However, a dating to the end of the Madhabaean period cannot be excluded (see the cultural notes).


   1  [ʾ]ws¹ʾl ḏ-Ḫ(y)fm s²wʿ ḏ-Grbm (w)-[ḏ]
   2  Rṣfm s¹nbṭ w-ḍfr bʾr-s¹ Ẓrb yw[m]
   3  bny kl ʾhl w-mḥfdt Mḫḍn b-ʿṯt[r]
   4  ḏ-Grb w-ḏ Rṣf w-ʾrnydʿ w-Wd

1The editors read Ḫhfm, but the reading on the photograph rather suggests Ḫyfm (cf. YM 16622 and the new reading of YM 22225).
2Ẓrb[.] according to Ryckmans, but Jamme notes that there is no trace of any sign after Ẓrb: the two holes were already on the stone when the text was written.



   1  ʾws¹ʾl of Ḫyfm priest of ḏ-Grbm and ḏ-
   2  Rṣfm excavated and built his own well Ẓrb, when
   3  he built the whole water preservation system and the towers of Mḫḍn (or: of the granted territory) by ʿṯtr
   4  ḏ-Grb and ḏ-Rṣf and ʾrnydʿ and Wd.


DepositRoma, Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale “Giuseppe Tucci”, inv. 13013/16025
Support typeStone inscription
Measuresh. 23, w. 68
Link to object record


Modern siteas-Sawdāʾ
Ancient siteNs²n
Geographical areaJawf - Wādī al-Buhayra
Archaeological contextAgricultural irrigation context: Well
Link to site record


The text mentions Nashshān's gods of the Madhabaean period, but in a peculiar sequence. According to Avanzini, this suggests a post-Minaean dating of the text (2nd-1st centuries BC), when the Nashshānite pantheon was restored but in a different protocol order; the archaising graphic style would confirm this suggestion.
On the other hand, the style may be actually archaic and the peculiar divine sequence may be due to the priority owed to the first two gods mentioned, because the subject of the text is a priest of theirs. If so, the text could be dated back to the end of the Madhabaean period. Moreover, this rare double priesthood is attested in the text YM 22225 of period A, where a new reading has shown that the author belongs to the same family Ḫyfm.


Ansaldi 1933: fig. 96Ansaldi, Cesare 1933. Il Yemen nella storia e nella leggenda. (Collezione di opere e di monografie a cura del Ministero delle colonie, 17). Rome: Sindacato italiano arti grafiche.
Ryckmans, Gonzague 1937: 267-268Ryckmans, Gonzague 1937. Inscriptions sud-arabes. Quatrième série. Le Muséon, 50: 239-268.
Jamme 1956 a: 18-21, pl. I/412Jamme, Albert W.F. 1956. Les antiquités sud-arabes du Museo Nazionale Romano. Monumenti antichi, 43: 1-120.
Avanzini 1995: 100-102, pl. 15/bAvanzini, Alessandra 1995. As-Sawdāʾ. Inventaire des inscriptions sudarabiques. 4. Paris: de Boccard / Rome: Herder. [Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres; Istituto italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente]
D'Amore, Jung and Messineo 2010: 70, fig. 33D'Amore, Paola, Jung, Michael and Messineo, Gaetano 2010. Yemen. Il paese della regina di Saba (VIII sec. a.C.-VII sec. d.C.). Pages 57-72 in Paola D'Amore and Michael Jung (eds). Vicino e Medio Oriente antico. (Collana Guide Brevi del Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale "Giuseppe Tucci"). Roma: Artemide.
Mazzini 2012: 232, cat. 44Mazzini, Giovanni 2012. Catalogo. Iscrizioni. Pages 232-237 in Sabina Antonini, Paola D'Amore and Michael Jung (eds). Il trono della regina di Saba. Cultura e diplomazia fra Italia e Yemen. La Collezione Sudarabica del Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale. Rome: Artemide.