Thursday, January 19, 2006

Yemen Temple possible site of new excavation

Researchers hope for large-scale excavations to begin near the Temple of As-Sawda in Yemen following the release of a report citing partial destruction of the site by looters.

Temple I is located to the northeast of the city of As-Sawda?. Its remaining pillars are covered with images and inscriptions describing the hierarchy of divinities in Nashshan. The names include Aranyada and Almaqah, Yada?sum and Nab?al, Nakrah and Hawar as well as Athtar and probably Il. Athtar is one of the principal divinities of Nashshan and dominates the assembly of South Arabian pantheons.

The names of goddesses Banat?il appear at the bottom of the pillars and above the scene of the dancing girls. They are the only female divinities attested on these pillars. Their location at the bottom of the pillars suggests their rank in the hierarchy of the South Arabia pantheons in general. There are other divine heroes mentioned for the first time such as Hamat, Hawar and Yatha?an.

Almaqah, the official divinity of the kingdom of Saba?, is present in the pantheon due to a strategic alliance between Saba? and Nashshan during the eighth c. BC. The alliance with Saba? ended with Sabaean domination under the reign of Karib?il Watar."