- Museum number
Yellow limestone incense-burner; Sabaean inscription; stylised bull's head at the left of the lightly recessed uppermost register, followed by monograms and above a seven-line engraved inscription, of which three lines are on three sides of the projecting upper portion and the remainder on the flared base; heavily chipped and top partly missing.
- Production date
Height: 40 centimetres
Length: 22 centimetres
Thickness: 22 centimetres
- Curator's comments
The first half of this Sabaean inscription reads:
Ha'lal [Hi]byan, a servant of the Banu[. . .]ram, dedicated to 'Athtar dhu-Risaf the altar Ya'ud, when he repaired and reconstructed, the temple Arathat. (Seipel 1998a, 375) but according to the file card the inscription mentions the dedication by Halal Abyan to 'Athtar of Risaf of an incense altar (called) Ya'ud on the occasion of his restoring the shrine, Arathat, when Dhu-Martha-Nasan and Aqur the priest of 'Athtar and Risap marked out the vineyard.
(should refer to Dhamartha' of Nashshan - see Avanzini 1995a for an alternative translation)
Inscribed in Sabaean which suggests that Nashshan (as-Sawda) is no longer Minean. The text alludes to the reconstruction of the temple by Arabs and the inscription was probably commissioned by an Arab (Robin and Vogt 1997a, 186). The upper half of the altar is quite badly damaged but there is a bull's head and some additional letters around on the top.
See Avanzini 1995a for further bibliographic references and discussion.
Bowers catalogue entry
2nd century BC
Height 41 cm, width 21 cm, thickness 21 cm
ANE 1887-6-29,21 = 125141
Purchased from Sir Eduard Glaser (1852-1908)
This large but heavily chipped stone incense-burner has a Sabaean inscription around three sides of the top and on the front of the flared foot which proves that it was dedicated to the god Athtar “lord of Risaf” by Halal Hibyan, who appears to be an Arab because of the use of the word banu (meaning “tribe”), and was placed in the Arathat temple in the Minaean city of Nashshan (modern as-Sawda) in what is now the Jawf region of northern Yemen. Above the inscription is a lightly recessed register containing a stylised frontal depiction of a bull’s head next to a set of monograms. The slightly damaged inscription may be translated as follows:
"Halal Hibyan, a servant of the banu [...]ram, has dedicated to Athtar dhu-Risaf this incense-burner Yaud, when he had repaired and reconstructed the temple Arathat, and when Hibyan dhu-Nashshan ... Athtar dhu-Garab and dhu-Risaf [from] a vineyard were entitled the tithes for his well-being, his capacities, his powers and his son".
The restoration of the temple indicates that the city of Nashshan was no longer under Minaean political control.
- Bibliographic references
Simpson 2002a / Queen of Sheba: Treasures from Ancient Yemen (pp.68, 169, cat.214, fig.20)
Seipel 1998a / Jemen. Kunst und Archäologie im Land der Königin von Saba' (426) (illustration/commentary)
Robin & Vogt 1997a / Yémen, au pays de la reine de Saba' (pp.186, 234) (illustration/commentary)
Branca 2000a / Yemen, Nel paese della Regina di Saba (exhibition catalogue-Italian version) (399) (illustration/commentary)
RES / Repertoire d'epigraphie semitique (Vol. V, 2884, p 215)
CIS IV/II / Inscriptiones Himyariticas et Sabaeas continens (pp.136-37, no.440) (discussion, translation; no illustration)
Avanzini 1995a / Inventario delle Inscrizioni sudarabiche, As-Sawda (pp.173-177, Tav. 34-36) (comment and illustrations)
Graf 1968a / Festschrift Werner Caskel zum siebzigsten Geburtstag 5. März 1966 gewidmet von Freunden (p.255) (+ fig 5)
Halévy J 1872a / Rapport sur une mission archaéologique dans le Yémen (p.204)
Jamme 1971a / Miscellanees d'ancient arabe II (p.39, 41)
Kitchen 2000a / Documentation for Ancient Arabia (pp. 31, 32, 34)
Akbarnia et al 2018 / The Islamic World: a History in Objects (p.20, fig.1)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2004 17 Oct-2005 13 Mar, California, Bowers Museum, 'Queen of Sheba: Legend and Reality'
2002 5 Jun-13 Oct, BM, 'Queen of Sheba: Treasures from ancient Yemen'
2000 26 Sept-2001 7 Jan, Torino, Palazzo Bricherasio, 'La Regina di Saba, Arte e Leggenda Dallo Yemen'
2000 4 Apr-30 Jun, Rome, Fondazione Memmo, Palazzo Ruspoli, 'Nel paese della Regina di Saba'
1999 7 Jul-2000 9 Jan, München, Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, 'Im Land der Königin von Saba'
1998 9 Nov-1999 21 Feb, Vienna, Künstlerhaus, 'Jemen. Kunst und Archäologie im Land der Königin von Saba'
1997 20 Oct-1998 28 Feb, France, Paris, Musee de L’Institut du Monde Arabe, Yemen, Pays de la Reine de Saba
- Heavily chipped and top partly missing; several old cracks emanating from the top where there is also an area of lamination
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 651 ("new" exhibition number according to RES)
Miscellaneous number: 86 (exhibition number)
Miscellaneous number: CIH 440 (siglum)
Miscellaneous number: Glaser 301 (siglum)
Miscellaneous number: Halevy 371 + 370 (siglum)
Miscellaneous number: RES 2884