Category Archives: Archaeology

New from Barāqish

maigret
Right to left: Alessandro de Maigret, Sabina Antonini and Francesco Fedele, discussing the extramural excavations
at Baraqish, Yemen, in 2005

Camels, donkeys and caravan trade: an emerging context from Barāqish, ancient Yathill (Wadi al-Jawf, Yemen)

No Accessby Francesco G. Fedele, Laboratorio di Antropologia, Università di Napoli ‘Federico II’, Naples, Italy (retired), current address: via Foligno 78/10, 10149 Torino (Italy)

Citation: Fedele F. G. 2014. — Camels, donkeys and caravan trade: an emerging context from Barāqish, ancient Yathill (Wādi al-Jawf, Yemen). Anthropozoologica 49 (2): 177–194.

Abstract

Work at Barāqish/Yathill in 2005–06 has produced sequences encompassing the Sabaean (13th-6th centuries BC) and Minaean/Arab (c. 550 BC-AD 1) occupations. Abundant animal remains were retrieved and contexts of use and discard were obtained. Camels and donkeys are studied together as pack animals, the camel being the domestic dromedary. Their zooarchaeological and contextual study at Yathill is justified from this city’s location on the famous frankincense caravan route of the 1st millennium BC. An extramural stratigraphic sequence documenting the relationships between the city and the adjoining plain from c. 820 BC to the Islamic era was investigated to the northwest of the Minaean wall. Domestic camels were present by 800 BC, the earliest well-documented occurrence in Yemen; wild dromedary herds were still in the area during the 7th century and perhaps later. The study of the archaeological context links these Sabaean-age camels to campsites possibly formed by non-residents. This pattern greatly developed during the Minaean period, with trade-jar handling posts outside the walled city and frequent stationing of camels and donkeys on the upper talus. Such data directly support the role of Yathill in the overland caravan trade and suggest that the extramural area was functionally important in this respect.

New Work on South Arabic

Maraqten

Maraqten, Mohammed
Altsüdarabische Texte auf Holzstäbchen
Epigraphische und kulturhistorische Untersuchungen
2014. 500 Seiten mit zahlreichen Abbildungen – 170 x 240 mm. Festeinband
ISBN 978-3-95650-034-3

Für die Erforschung des antiken Südarabiens in sprachlicher, historischer und kultureller Hinsicht ist die vorliegende Untersuchung von großer Bedeutung. Sie befasst sich mit neu entdeckten altsüdarabischen Schriftdokumenten, die auf Holzstäbchen eingeritzt wurden.

Die hier publizierten Stäbchendokumente spiegeln nicht nur die verschiedenen Gattungen der Schriftdokumente wider, sondern erstrecken sich auch über die Zeitepochen, in denen diese Schriftdokumente verfasst wurden, nämlich vom ca. 10. Jh. v. Chr. bis zum 6. Jh. n. Chr. Diese Texte der Publikation stellen eine wichtige Quelle für die Kulturgeschichte Arabiens in vorislamischer Zeit dar. Sie bezeugen die Entwicklung der Schrift- und Dokumentenkultur im altsüdarabischen Raum in dieser Periode. Unter den Textgattungen finden sich unter anderem Privatbriefe, Rechts- und Wirtschaftsurkunden, Schultexte, Privatverträge, Inventartexte, Quittungen.

Im ersten Kapitel werden die verschiedenen Gattungen der Stäbchentexte und deren sprachliche und kulturelle Aspekte im arabischen Bereich und im altorientalischen Kontext aufgeführt und dargestellt. Im zweiten Kapitel werden hundert Texte ausgewählt, entziffert, übersetzt, kommentiert und durch Faksimile und bildliche Darstellungen zur besseren Anschauung ergänzt. Diese hundert Stäbchentexte gehören zu der entsprechenden Sammlung des Nationalmuseums von Ṣana, Jemen. Sie werden nun erstmals veröffentlicht.

AIYS Seminar, October 30, 2014

oct1
Dr. Amat al-Malik al-Thawr; Dr. Salwa Dammaj; Houda Abalan (Vice Minister of Culture); Sammah Damaj

AIYS organized a seminar on October 30, 2014 on the institute premises. Three working papers were presented. The first one was titled “Manuscripts House in Old City of Sanaa”, the second one’s theme was “Woman Empowerment: Conception and Reality” and the third paper was titled “Woman’s Positions in Yemen’s Ancient Temples”. The seminar brought together a number of academics and researchers from the University of Sanaa and the Yemen Center for Studies and Research, activists and journalists. The Deputy Minister of Culture, Houda Abalan, was in attendance.

The Resident Director of AIYS Dr. Salwa Dammaj started the seminar with short remarks in which she briefed the attendees on the mission and activities of AIYS. Then she introduced the three lecturers who presented the working papers.

Continue reading AIYS Seminar, October 30, 2014

Rediscover archeologist Wendell Phillips

wendell
Wendell Phillips stands with Yemeni men, including Sheik Al-Barhi (center), a leader of the Bal Harith tribe. (Courtesy American Foundation for the Study of Man)

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/10/10/243044_rediscover-archeologist-wendell.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

By Tish Wells, McClatchy Washington Bureau, October 10, 2014

— Wendell Phillips was a real-life Indiana Jones crossed with Lawrence of Arabia digging in the desert sands of history just after World War II.

The discoveries of some of those post-war adventures are now on display at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington.

“Unearthing Arabia: The Archaeological Adventures of Wendell Phillips,” running Oct. 11 through June 7, 2015, examines the excavations that Wendell Phillips carried out in 1950 and 1951 in Saudi Arabia, which is today Yemen, said Massumeh Farhad, the gallery’s Chief Curator and Curator of Islamic Art.

During Phillips’ expeditions, he and his archeologists discovered two cities lost under the rock and sands of time — Timna, the capital of Qataban kingdom, and Marib, the reputed home of the Queen of Sheba. They unearthed a pair of bronze statues of snarling lions ridden by smiling cherubs, alabaster funeral stele, layers of pottery that proved centuries of occupation, and more.

“Unearthing Arabia” tells a tale of commerce, riches and influence that stretched up and down the coast of the Red Sea between Yemen and the Mediterranean powerhouse empires of Egypt and Rome.

Continue reading Rediscover archeologist Wendell Phillips

AIYS at MESA 2014: Making Yemen’s Islamic History: Engineering, Monuments, Taxes and Stimulants

[P3654] Making Yemen’s Islamic History: Engineering, Monuments, Taxes and Stimulants

 MESA Annual Convention, Washington DC
To be held Monday, 11/24/14 11:00am

•    Written versus archaeological evidence: The example of water and wastewater in medieval Zabid, Yemen by Dr. Ingrid Hehmeyer
•    Ideal and pragmatic tax law in mediaeval Zaydi Yemen by Dr. Eirik Hovden
•    A cultural heritage text from early medieval South Arabia by Dr. Daniel Mahoney
•    Coffee and Qat in Yemen: The Historical and Literary Evidence for their Introduction by Dr. Daniel Martin Varisco
•    Discussant:  Dr. Nancy Ajung Um

SUMMARY:

Scholarship on Islamic history has paid less attention to Yemen than to Iraq, Syria or Egypt. Despite an important corpus of manuscripts and the publication of several significant primary sources, the historical reconstruction of Islamic Yemen lags behind these other regions. This panel brings together historians who work on various periods in Yemen to illustrate how the current historiography is being made. Archaeological fieldwork on the Islamic era has been limited with the notable exception of the Royal Ontario Museum project on Zabid. Based on the excavation of water works in Zabid, one paper compares the material evidence with the description of water engineering schemes in the 16th century Yemeni text History of Zabid by Ibn al-Dayba’, thus showing the importance of archaeology for fleshing out the tantalizing details in written texts. Another paper focuses on the 10th century multi-volume al-Iklil of the Yemeni savant al-Hamdani, who provides a rhetorical landscape of monuments as an aid in the formation and maintenance of the South Arabian political identity in a fashion akin to modern cultural heritage texts. At the same time, al-Hamdani’s reconstruction of Yemen’s pre-Islamic past serves as a mirror of the politics of his own time, with the retreat of the Abbasid presence and the recent arrival of both Zaydis and Isma’ilis to northern Yemen, more than a century before the Ayyubid invasion. The Zaydi presence in Yemen’s north since the late ninth century is the focus of a paper on the tax policies of the Zaydi imams, especially the tension between the traditional zakat on production and other kinds of taxes. This paper discusses both the theological debate about tax collection and recorded information on how taxes were actually collected. Another paper examines the evidence for the introduction of both coffee (Coffea arabica) and qat (Catha edulis) into Yemen, probably during the Rasulid era. Recent research has resolved the issue of the origin of the term “qat” and there is a need to update discussion of the stimulant in previous sources, including the EI. This paper will examine historical, literary, legal and lexical sources as well as Yemeni folklore. Overall the panel provides both an indication of current research and an invitation for other scholars to help make Yemen’s history as well.

South Arabian antiquities fellowship

phillips
Wendell Phillips (right)

The Freer and Sackler Galleries are pleased to announce a new curatorial fellowship for fall, 2014

The Ancient Art Curatorial Fellowship at the Freer and Sackler Galleries is intended to promote collection-based research and curatorial training in one of two focused areas of ancient art. The incumbent will work with the Freer|Sackler curator of Islamic art and other staff as necessary and participate in the museums’ activities as requested. Fellowship duties will include exhibition-related work with the relevant collection, carried out in consultation and collaboration with Freer|Sackler staff.

Depending on the scholarly background and interest of the successful applicant, the fellowship will be awarded in one of two collections areas: ancient art of South Arabia or the art of the Sogdians. This is a one-year fellowship, with the possibility of renewal.

Please visit the fellowship webpage for more information and application instructions. http://asia.si.edu/research/ancient-art-fellowship.asp
The application deadline is May 15, with notification in early June and a start date in the fall.

Nancy Micklewright
Head, Scholarly Programs and Publications
Freer|Sackler
Smithsonian
Washington, DC
micklewrightn@si.edu