Evidence from a new inscription regarding the goddess ʿṯ(t)rm and some remarks on the gender of deities in South Arabia
A bronze tablet with a Sabaic inscription, which appeared in the San ʿāʾ market, offers the first intriguing occurrence of the goddess ʿṯtrm outside the Hadramitic city of Raybūn. The inscription is a penitential text and its content and linguistic and formulaic features are reminiscent of the Sabaic penitential inscriptions from al-Jawf. The inscription brings some interesting new elements to the epigraphic corpus, particularly with regard to the deity invoked — ʿṯtrm Ḥgr — who appears for the first time in this category of texts, in place of the gods ḏS¹ mwy and Ḥlfn to whom such penitential inscriptions were usually addressed. This new evidence of a goddess, ʿṯtrm, in the bronze tablet Ṣan ʿāʾ 2004-1 could testify to the existence in the religion of al-Jawf (besides Haçlramawt) of female variants of the god c Athtar, similar to other cultures of the Ancient Near East. The inscription also offers the opportunity of commenting on the question of the gender of deities on the basis of the epigraphic sources.
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Archaeopress Publishing, Oxford, UK