Germans help uncover its pastSarwah City’s secrets unveiled [Archives:2004/734/Culture]

May 3 2004

Hassan Al-Zaidi
Sarwah City was the first capital and major commercial city of Sheba Kingdom because of the strategic importance of the region and the strategic fortified geographical location.
They erected their palaces where the ruins are reminiscent of the magnificent civilization that had once flourished in it.
Sarwah of Sheba is located at the heart of the province of today's Sarwah City, about 50km west of Marib.
It is surrounded by a series of mountains from all directions, leaving only three primary exits to the city.
From the northern eastern and western bounds are Haylan and Murted Mountains, respectively, from the south boundary are “al-Ajarum” mountains and from the east is “Kaofel” mountain.
The city's eastern exist is toward “Dhenah” valley, and the northern exit, commonly used by Sheba people, is toward Al-Makhdarah and Habab Valley exist from the Western side.
The inhabitants of the city, nearly 20,000, belong to “Jahm” tribe, one of the primary tribes of Bani Jubr tribes, the descendents of Khawlan tribes.
The reaction of a first-time visitor may be a combination of fear, astonishment, admiration and amazement feeling beset with many exclamatory questions.

Stop! Where are you going?
The visitor of Sarwah may take the asphalt road towards the northern boundaries of Marib City.
The first-encountered awesome experiment would be at the Security Checkpoint where their line of questioning and the tone of their articulation would imply and give the impression that the visitor might be going to a dangerous zone.
Thirty kilometers later another frightening encounter would take place. This time at an army-affiliated military checkpoint, one could see tens of tanks and armored vehicles scattered on the sides of the road.
Again the line of questioning could be more intimidating this time such as from where? Where to and what do you want? One would reach a conclusion that there are strict rules to be followed.
Once the visitor arrives at the province market, the fences of Sarwah city could be seen from there.
Historian believe that Sarwah city, with its area of 3 hectors, palaces and 4 meter-high fences which still standing today and temples, is dated back to the 7th century BC.
The German excavating team headed by Dr. Aris Jerlikh has unveiled and discovered startling discoveries in the city.
Dr. Jerlikh said that there are still efforts being exerted to investigate the role of the city and whether Sarwah city was considered a religious city or not.
The city embraces the famous “Al-Magah” temple in addition to many other temples in the city.
The German expert confirms the role of artificial irrigation system in the resurrected thriving life in Sarwah city, through the centuries, where the city continued to play its role even after the crack of Marib dam.
She said that the study conducted on the city confirmed the importance of artificial irrigation system in sustaining life in the city through the construction and building of dams.
Sarwah city enjoys a strategic location for the flourishing of trade because it is situated at the intersection of important roads network.
The city is connected to a marble mine, the most important in Yemen, where some engraved pieces dating back to Sheba era were found inside it. This confirms that this mine was part of the commercial activities of the city.
Some of the findings in the city came as a result of demolishing some homes built in the vicinity of the temple of Al-Magah since 200 years ago. The construction of temple is dated back to the mid-17 century BC.
The excavation has unraveled some of the mystery on the temple where it proves that the temple was supplemented with dining rooms and advanced sewage system.

The famous Al-Naser Palace
Inside the palace of Al-Naser are two rocks put on each other, each is about 70 meters long, one meter wide and two and a half meters high. They refer to Sheba king “Kurb Al watur”, whose engraved portraits are all over the temple talking about his military conquests, construction activities and his forays to some parts of Yemen.
The German excavation team has also discovered a tomb inside the city of Sarwah, which is similar in characteristic to the tombs found in “Awam” cemetery in Marib.
The German team believes this tomb is only part of a massive cemetery and only the future excavation will determine that.
The German team said that the excavation at the site of Sarwah Palace adjacent to Al-Magah temple, is dated back to the 2nd century BC.
Dr. Aris Jerlikh, Director of the German Institute and the head of the German team expressed her belief that this palace remained occupied until the 3rd centruy AD, but regrettably, part of this palace does not exist it anymore because of the plundering of its rocks in the past.
But she pointed out that there are fences built of the same rocks in the surrounding region of Sarwah city, in addition to signs connected to rituals of hunting ibex, a hunting sport practiced by kings of Sheba in the past. Continued on page 11

The current Sarwah city
State's officials say that the practices of some members living in Sarwah such as kidnapping of tourists, bombing of oil pipelines spread across the province have prevented the expanding of development to the city.
On the other hand, the citizens of Sarwah city complain that the negligence of the state of their city has led to such practices in order to pressure the state to implement and carry out some development and services projects.
However, the big concern of the majority of the city is the collective punishment of the state to the practice of some individuals.
Electricity and health services are not sufficient. There are electricity poles erected in the streets but without electricity current.
The only hospital in the city was established in 1985 and it is closed most of the time due to the lack of medical cadre and medical equipment. The role of its working division, renovated by the German Health and Family Planning Project is limited to giving vaccination to women and children. As far as schools, there are some schools but without teachers.
In conclusion, the presence of military forces and the statements of officials imply that the citizens of Sarwah are aggressive and evils. They should have been living like this at the 13th century.
But, in reality, they seem peaceful, hospitable and magnanimous. There are many citizens who are graduates of universities, colleges and military academies who are unemployed.
Definitely the measures and mistakes of the officials have led to a big hiatus between the citizens and the state. The remaining question is the President of the Republic able to narrow this gap?
And in the recent visit of President Saleh to Sarwah and his inspection of the situation would eventually lead to the lifting of the suffering of the citizens?
Only the coming period could answer these questions.