Jawf temple reveals pre-Islam political-religious system [Archives:2005/899/Culture]

December 1 2005

A new historic site was discovered in July 2004 by Dr. Mounir Arbash, inscription researcher from the Sana'a-based French Center for Archeology and Social Sciences (CEFAS), and Remy Audouin, French archeologist, in as-Suda town in al-Jawf area, north of Sana'a. The historical role of the area was earlier suggested but it could not be explored due to security instability in the past.

The discovery is in the form of a temple dating back at least to the eighth century B.C. The significance of the temple is that it shows for the first time religious rituals in the Arabian Peninsula that will contribute to a better understanding of the political-religious system and the hierarchy of deity.

The researchers have introduced the discovery in a book titled “A South Arabian Pantheon Expressed in Images: Temple I of as-Sawda' Yemen”.

The book was published along with other books in a workshop organized by the CEFAS for Archeology and Social Sciences at al-Ju'ami House on Tuesday Nov 24, 2005 under the slogan of “Treasures from Yemen's Old and Modern History”. The workshop was attended by Ministry of Culture Khaled al-Rowaishan, Deputy Minister of Higher Studies Mohammed Muthar, and CEFAS Director Mr. Jean Lambert as well as historians, intellectuals, pressmen, French donors and a number of interested people.

Along with the above mentioned book, other books sponsored by the CEFAS were introduced among them were “Shabwa: Capital of Ancient Hadhramout” prepared by Azza Aqil and Jean Francois Breton. It features the results of Yemeni-French archeological expeditions shedding light on the history, construction, agriculture and trade in the ancient kingdom of Hadhramout whose capital city was Shabwa. Another book was “From the Gold of Sultan to the Light of Allah” which is a profound study of the decorations of Al-Abbas Mosque in Asnaf, Sana'a province. This book aims to uncover the mysterious history of this great mosque.

“Wood Carving Art in Sana'a” is another book introduced during the workshop which deals with the most finely chiseled woodworking in Sana'a as one of the best Arab cities.

The collection includes “Yemen towards the Republic” which is a valuable book featuring rare photos on pre-Revolution Yemen starting in the second half of the 19th century until the republican era. This book was authored by a team of Yemeni, Arab and foreign researchers under the supervision of Francois Burgat.

During the workshop some authors gave introductions on their works. Among the speakers were Dr. Hussein al-Amri, author of “Drafts of Properties of Five Imams and their Heirs,” Jamal Abdul-Rahman al-Hadhrami, son of late Abdul-Rahman al-Hadhrami, who authored “Tihamh in History,” Mohammed Abdul-Rahim Jazzem, editor of “Noor al-Ma'arif” (Light of Knowledge), and Dr. Mounir Abrash, coauthor of A South Arabian Pantheon Expressed in Images: Temple I of as-Sawda' Yemen”