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HOME : Biblical Antiquities : Sabean Art : Sabean funerary stone relief
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Sabean funerary stone relief - AM.0141
Origin: Yemen
Circa: 400 BC to 200 BC
Dimensions: 16.1" (40.9cm) high
Collection: Biblical
Medium: Limestone

Additional Information: Korea

Location: Great Britain
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Saba, modern day Yemen, was a kingdom in pre- Islamic southwestern Arabia, mentioned in the Bible, in the story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and variously cited by ancient Assyrian, Greek, and Roman authors. Its capital was the city of Ma?rib, with Sirwah as the second major city. The Sabaeans were of Semitic origins and at an unknown date entered southern Arabia from the north, imposing their culture on an aboriginal population. Excavations in central Yemen suggest that the Sabaean civilization began as early as the 10th–12th century BC. The period between the 8th to the 5th century BC was characterized by a tremendous outburst of building activity, with most of the great temples and monuments, including the great Ma?rib Dam, on which Sabaean agricultural prosperity depended, dating back to this period. For centuries Saba controlled the straits leading into the Red Sea, also establishing many colonies on the African shores. Saba was rich in spices and agricultural products and carried on a wealth of trade by overland caravan and by sea. In addition, a trade route that connected India to Egypt that passed through their capital of Marib was another major source of wealth. Although gold and silver deposits were present, the chief source of the kingdom’s vast wealth derived from the monopoly of two of the most coveted materials in ancient times: frankincense and myrrh. Marib's wealth accumulated to such an extent that the city became a byword for riches beyond belief throughout the Arab world. In the 1st Century A.D., the Ptolemaic Greeks discovered a sea route from India directly to the port of Alexandria, eliminating Saba from her lucrative trade and ushering in the decline of Sabean prosperity. In the following two centuries the Sabaeans would completely disappear as they were successively overrun by Persian adventurers and by the Muslim Arabs. This magnificent funerary stone in high relief is a stunning example of the sophistication of Sabean art. It was originally inserted into a matching tall and narrow but larger quadrangular pillar, as to form the tombstone. Male face with top hair-fringe, rigorously semi- circular ears, level eyebrows, long triangular nose, slit mouth, plain beard and a slight squared chin. The 5- letter name, G w t ‘ l – Ghawth-il – is well attested. It dates between the 3rd-4th centuries BC. - (AM.0141)


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