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Carved stone slab (stela) with a standing woman
Sabaean, 1st century BC to 1st century AD
Funerary stela of a woman
This stela was probably originally either used as a grave stone or placed inside a tomb. Such images were popular in ancient South Arabia, as well as in other places where a representation of the dead person was thought to be essential for their survival in the next world. In Palmyra, for example, images of the owners of tombs were known as a nefesh: a 'soul' or 'personality'. Often the dead person's name was written on a stela, statue, plaque, or plinth and was thought to be as important as the actual image. There is, though, no inscription on this particular stela.
The ancient South Arabians worshipped a number of gods until, by the end of the fourth century AD, monotheism, or the worship of a single god, developed. References in inscriptions to Almaqah and other gods were superseded by references to Rahmanan, 'Lord of Heaven and Earth'.
W. Daum (ed.), Yemen: 3000 years of art and c (Penguin, 1988)