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Volume :3 Issue : 12 1977      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

New Light on the relations between Aksum and the Southern Arabian States during the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.

Auther : Dr. Fawzy Mikawy


         The Southern part of the Red Sea basin is an integral cultural area in which the Red Sea and the straits of Bab El-Mandab constitute a unifying rather than a separating factor.  Accordingly Southern Arabian cultural influences extended to Aksum and embrace language, cults, methods of agriculture and irrigation and so on.  Aksum, on the other hand, was often capable throughout its history of interfering in rivalries between southern Arabian Kingdoms.  And since the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. it was strong enough to take over that part of Southern Arabian situated to the north of the Sabaean territory.

         Though we are quite certain of the strength of these ties, very little is recorded of them.  Therefore, the discovery of any new inscription concerning these relations is a treasure in itself since it a can shed so much light on unknown chapters of the history of this region.

         Muttaher El-Iryani, A Yemeni researcher, contributed to the discovery of new chapters in the history of this region through the publication of four new Sabaean inscriptions dealing with the relations between the Southern Arabian States and Aksum in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. These inscriptions derive their significance from the contribution and provision of new data concerning the relation of these Kingdoms at that time.

         The following conclusions are drawn from this study:

1.     As regards aksumite-Southern Arabian relations during the 2nd century A.D., the text of wfy’drh (no 12) confirms the extension of the confrontation between the two powers, as it encompasses new areas not dealt with in the inscription of Qataban Awkan on the same subject (Ja. 631).

       Wfy’s text refers also to the continuation of the conflict for many years after the period of the expeditions in which Qataban Awkan participated.

2.     As for the same relations in the 3rd century A.D., however varied and diverse were the inscriptions discovered before, these new texts add the following facts.

a.  The text (no. 19) confirms the existences of military operations between ‘Isrh Yhdb and Y’ZL Byn and the Aksumites.

b.  The text (no. 28) adds new information about the attempts of the Himyarites to conclude alliance treaties with the Aksumites which do not only date back to the reign of Samir of Rydn, but also precede that reign, as Krb’l of Rydn had concluded before a similar treaty (which is almost the theme of the text).

c.  The text (no 20) sheds new light on the date of the termination of this phase of conflict through its reference to the continuation of the fight against the Aksumites during the reign of NS’ Krb Y’mn Yhrhb son of Lsrh Yhdb, which pints to the delay of the Aksumite evacuation from Arab territory of some years to come after the date defined by previous researchers.

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Dec 26, 2021

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