Height: 31.200 cm
Width: 16.100 cm
Thickness: 16.000 cm
Room 53: Ancient South Arabia
Limestone sculpture of an ibex
Minaean, 3rd-2nd century
From the area of Jauf, ancient Ma'in, Yemen
During the first millennium BC and into the Roman period a prosperous civilization, based largely upon trade in incense, grew up in south-west Arabia, the area of modern Yemen. Many of the objects surviving from this time are votive offerings, set up in temples to receive the blessing of the gods and demonstrate the wealth of merchants and land owners.
This example of an ibex is inscribed: 'Ammyada son of Yathi Karib has sworn the oath of Athirat of cAlb with the offering of purities.'
The history of South Arabia in antiquity was marked by constant warfare between Saba, Hadramawt, Ausan, Qataban and Ma'in. Saba was the oldest state, but gradually Ma'in severed ties with Saba and became independent. Towards the end of the fifth century BC, Ma'in controlled most of the trade routes.
The ibex (Capra ibex) is still found widely in Arabia, though the numbers have been reduced by hunting.
St J.H. Philby, The Queen of Sheba (London, Quartet, 1981)