The inscriptions in Ancient South Arabian script from Ḥimā

A preliminary historical and cultural appraisal

Authors

  • Alessia Prioletta CNRS - UMR 8167

Keywords:

epigraphy, rock engravings, Ancient South Arabian, Himaitic, trade routes

Abstract

Since 2007, the Saudi-French Archaeological and Epigraphic mission to Najrān (MAFSN) has been conducting surveys in the area of Ḥimā, located about 100 km north-east of Najrān. In the area, which in antiquity was on the route leading from South Arabia to the north and east of the Arabian Peninsula, thousands of rock engravings have been found, carved on the suitable local sandstone by the region’s population and by the armies and caravans that stopped over at Ḥimā during their long-distance journeys.
This paper attempts a preliminary general assessment of the inscriptions carved in Ancient South Arabian (ASA) script that have been recorded so far by the MAFSN. Thanks to the geo-referenced archive of the MAFSN mission, the distribution of the graffiti can now be visualized on spatio-temporal geographical maps. Moreover, by analysing their textual content and script style, it is often possible to determine the identity and provenance of the authors along with the period in which they were produced. Many of these texts contain direct or indirect references to the coeval historic situation in southern Arabia and even abroad, and confirm the importance of Ḥimā as the northern commercial offshoot of the Najrān oasis in the pre-Islamic trans-Arabian trade network.

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Published

28/07/2022

How to Cite

Prioletta, A. (2022). The inscriptions in Ancient South Arabian script from Ḥimā: A preliminary historical and cultural appraisal. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 51, 271–282. Retrieved from http://archaeopresspublishing.com/ojs/index.php/PSAS/article/view/728

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