- Museum number
Limestone slab with an 11 line South Arabian inscription referring to the dedication by some twenty persons of some object to the goddess Shams Hamat; single symbol incised in the top register above the inscription; broken.
- Production date
- 3rdC BC
Height: 57 centimetres (including base)
Height: 48.50 centimetres
Length: 56 centimetres (including base)
Length: 54 centimetres
Thickness: 5 centimetres (finished surface top)
Thickness: 14.70 centimetres (stone base)
Thickness: 10.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Bowers catalogue entry
Sabaean inscription dedicated by Arabs to the goddess Shams
2nd century BC
Height 47 cm, width 50 cm, thickness 10 cm
ANE 1910-5-7,5 = 103063
Purchased from Charles Albert Brenchley through George Hallett
This inscription accompanied a dedication offered in the Sabaean capital of Marib to the goddess Shams, and refers to it having been made by some twelve Arab men from different families and several distinct tribes. The inscription reads:
“[... they] [from the tribe] of Lishams, the second year, accompanied by Maliku Afaw, the son of [...], Gahran, the son of Hamillat, Awsshams, the son of Wahab [...], Shamsmaslam, the son of Abdi, Adabil, the son of A[...], the son of Kuhal, Lishams, the son of Ashar, Malik, the son of [...] Qasimu, Ismail and Misk, the sons of Abd, Wa[... A]bdyathaan, Marashams, the son of Taymqafwu, all [from the tribe of ...] the son of Wahban, Hami, the son of Yadanibihi, all from the tribe of the Sa[...], the son of Rafat, all of the tribe of Uqn; Tayman, the son of Awdhlaqad[...]ut, all of the tribe of Yabruq; Salih, Hadadqa[...], the son of Ilisami, Bimulkihi, the son of Ilisami, [...] dedicated to Shams, the protectress of the Balqa, she who is from Ammisa[na]”.
The inscription was first published by Halévy (1827-1917) in 1910, although he doubted its authenticity because several of the proper names appeared to him to be false. It has since been recognised as genuine. There is also a symbol incised on the upper border.
The inscription is dated to "on the third day of the month of Shams in the second year of the king Seleucus" and uses the same dating formula and script as a second inscription from another collection, also dedicated to Shams, which is provenanced to Main. The two are both dated to the reign of Seleucus I (c. 358-281 BC) and thus date to the third century BC. A third example confirms the occasional use of the Seleucid Era in dating inscriptions in this region, even though it lay well outside the Seleucid empire. One explanation might be that it reflects influence from eastern Arabia, particularly Ikaros (modern Failaka), which was under Seleucid control; the inscription also contains some North Arabian and Aramaic elements. The upshot is that it provides a hint of Persian Gulf involvement in trans-Arabian trade with South Arabia at this date. A paper on this subject, and concerning this inscription, was delivered by Dr Alessia Prioletta at the Seminar for Arabian Studies on 24th July 2010, and entitled "The Sabaic inscription A-20-216: a new Sabaean-Seleucid synchronism?".
- 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' Not displayed
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' Not displayed
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
- Old wear, surface abrasion and scratches, particularly on the face of the inscription; old restoration to secure object to the stone base.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Collection of "5 Himyaritic stones & four others" deposited by Hallett 1 October 1909 (ANE deposit book entry); letter dated 27 April 1910 from Hallett to Budge states that he is authorised by Mr. Brenchley to accept his offer of £100 for "the Himyaritic stone inscriptions"; invoice for these sent 8 May 1910; Hallett writes 8 June the same year from his home address on further news from Brenchley (ANE Correspondence 1910, q.v. Hallett).
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: RES 3605 bis (siglum)
Miscellaneous number: Ry 547