July 24 2000

Lahj Province is considered one of the Yemen’s richest areas with historical tourist attractions, especially in abundant antiquities. Despite lack of funds, negligence and irresponsible actions of some people, works continue for attracting tourists through excavations and unearthing of antiquities here and there in the province. So far 120 antiquities sites have been discovered in the province.
During the past five years due attention have been drawn to the basic factors of tourism industry in this province especially that the government is working for raising the standard of tourism industry throughout Yemen.
Yemen is reputed for its ancient civilizations; but regrettably most of the historical sites representing those civilizations in some provinces are neglected, and here we specifically mention the province of Lahj. The real problem lies in the big quantity of findings and lack of potentialities, a matter creating difficulties for to the Public Antiquities Board.
Antiquities relating to stone and bronze ages have been found in Al-Ri’aare’ area of Lahj which was at one time capital of Al-Zari’ya State.
Antiquities & Museums Office (AMO) in Lahj is a scientific-cultural center. It offers its visitors and researchers historical and cultural information. The Office contains antiques dating back to 1,500,000 years and stone articles collected during excavations in Tour-al-Baha district. These date back to mid-pleistoceic and almost paleolithic (7,000,000-125,000 B.C.) ages as well artifacts dating to the bronze age (1500-950 B.C.).
The real treasure of antiquities was discovered at Sabr, which lies on the coastal strip. At an area of 6 x1,5 square kms a temple, a palace and a wall were found but we are searching for the main graveyard of the city. Parts of these sites have been repaired. This site lies in the pre-historic to present time Sabr. Here the site of “al-Afyoush” was also found. Inscriptions of Sabaeans and Qatabans dating back to the end of second century and third century and mid of second century B.C. to first century were found here. The first lot of inscriptions contained ( a man’s head, a hand ,five women carrying pots, a lion hunting its prey, a camel, and an arch ) and the articles contained lamps and pots. The soil here is 4000 to 6000 years old but the clay pots date back 1500-900 B.C.. Large quantities of these findings are being displayed at international exhibitions held annually as part of our activities in this respect. A joint German-Russian team is carrying out excavation works. It has already discovered a site composed of 17 historical places of various historical periods and the site of the main port of Sabr was also located.
AMO Director General, Mr. Musleh Ali Ahmed Al-Qubati, in an interview with the Yemen Times said that his Office has an annual work plan. This includes preservation of antiquities and manuscripts found in the process of excavation works or surveys. The plan also includes repairs. But the most important plan is to find possibilities for opening more museums.
Mr. Qubati disclosed that excavation works, for one season only, at Kharbat-Hadeem in Al-Hed area of Yafa’ proved the site to be “a very important city” where a temple and archaeological designs were excavated.
When asked how Sabr site was discovered, Mr. Qubati replied:- ” As you see this area is full of clay works in huge quantities. It would appear that this site was actually a center for clay works which were exported and sold back in the year 1500 B.C.
Speaking about the difficulties which confront him, Mr. Qubati said: “These are numerous; but the main difficulty is transportation. Without it we are unable to visit antiquities’ sites. Allocations are poor; but response from citizens is really encouraging.” In this regard, he said that cooperation and coordination is being sought with international organizations.
Mr. Qubati concluded by saying that on September 4 this year, the German-Russian team shall start excavation works at “al-Qahyu” site in Khor Umaira area where many a site have been discovered including the main port dating back to 1,000,000-1,500,000 years.