Al-Awd Mount: A hidden civilization [Archives:2002/12/Culture]

March 18 2002


By: Saad Sharif Taher
Nadira/ Ibb
O n 17th Jan.2002 an unexpected chance led me to al-Awd undecided kingdom. My students invited me to have a look at it.
I was warmly welcomed by their parents in the village of Thu-il-Drub. After lunch they narrated the story of the Holly Mount [al-Awd Mount] in details:
The story of discovery
Mr. Mohammed Mohsin al-Awdi started: in 1983 a military troop came to settle on the summit of the mountain. As the shovel began to prepare the way for cars it hit what was later known a room of a buried palace. Statues, earthenware and cups appeared. Soldiers and workers took them away. The discovery didnt draw attention of anyone even at the official level till 1997 when a shepherd by chance discovered a room during searching for a certain planet added to fenugreek. He found many antiques. So, he asked the villagers to help him dig the area. After telling the official circles, tribes quarreled over guarding the ruins. The governor himself interfered to settle the quarrels and took the stolen antiques. Then the Bureau of Antiques worked with the German company for Antiques to search for more of them. Officials visited the site with German ambassador who offered taking part in excavations. In 1998 ten German excavators found extra antiques and coins that belonged to 2000 B.C.
Mr. Hussein Naji al-Awdi continued:
The Germans discovered statue of a woman (50 cm. length) holding a dove in a hand and a snake wound on the other arm. They couldnt interpret that. They also found a bronze head similar to the Egyptian sphinx and that proved the relationships between Yemeni civilization ancient Egypt.
Mr. Ahmed Abdullah al-Dellag (a teacher) interrupted thousands of year ago olive trees had been known in al-Awd mount and a tree is their till now.
A legend
another old man recited a legend of an ancient proverb The welfare of the Awd is in Thi-sewd. To explain that he said, in al-Awd was a farm in which there was a hidden treasure of gold. Under the shetha, on the shetha, he who would see it will be happy. Shetha was a tree whose leaves were used to tan leathers. The legend added that when the key and treasure would be found lots of people would be wealthy even if a traveler came from Egypt on foot, he would gain a headwrapperful of the treasure. That referred to the amount of the treasures. The narrators promised to take me to the summit of the mount where the ruins are. Dreaming of tomorrows climbing up journey I slept.
At 7:30 in the morning, we set out through moving mist on the tops of the surrounding mounts. Climbing zigzag paths up the mountainside on billions of shapeless different in size stones and rocks was a tire some task for an untrained person like me. Rocky teeth were tearing up our tired bodies. Two hours later we got to the summit out of breath after sweating to the toes. Saleh Mosleh (a teacher) continued yesterdays talking about the mount. You see al-Awd is near Nadirah, Harith Thu-Asboh the Hamyarian. It is 3200 meters high, 3 kilometers length and 100-900 meters width. To the north is Sana village, leiyan is to the west. It hides ancient remains in Masnadh, Hadda fortress and Medhred fortress.
In the city
Barbed wires prevented us to go further but Abdulmajeed Saif (the guard) welcomed us and led us into the newly discovered city where he was acting as a good guide.
The temple
Saif pointed to a well-paved court of 15x 8 meters saying: The Germans said this is a temple with thirty rectangular rooms 3x 4 meters each. The walls were built geometrically with smooth square rocks of 60x 40 cm four stony stairs of 2 meters length each led to the alter. Engraved tablets were decorating walls. In a room they found tablets on which the name of king Wid was engraved dated to 2000 B.C. in the middle of the court there was a hanana (pond) 3 meters deep and 2 meters diameters covered with cement like material called (godhadh) to keep water. Holes dug in sidewalls through which water was brought to the pond. Different pools engraved in big stones geometrically.
The museum
Saif added, a museum of ten rooms with ceilings and the stamp of the king, bronze coins, bronze lions, gazelles, pottery jars and earrings next year.
The market:
It was 3-4 stony pathways with stony ceilings. They were discovered in them.
The prison
It was called Dukeim jail. It was a hole in the mountain with chains attacked to the ceiling to hold criminals who were sentenced to hanged for three days till death as they would be killed by cold winds. Dukiem might have been the name of the jailer or a quarter in the city. The city was strictly surrounded by a big wall with Easter and western gates. Down the mountain, there was a big tablet on which a message of 14 lines was sent to the king of the holy mount (al-Awd mount itself) from king of Shafar written Musnad calligraphy praising Abukerb Asaad Tuban al-Humayri. On the top of the mountain there might have been the palace of the king for there were remains of an old castle.
German archeologists concluded that the city was just a holy city because it was not as big as a capital and because of the five temples to which and a wide smile Saif concluded his narration. I put down a human skull, bones and teeth where they were after taking picture with them and said goodbye to Saif. We, the visitors, came back to the village taking about one of wonderful Yemeni civilizations and dreaming of another journey again to see the museum next year.