Largest Qatabani temple discovered in Shabwa [Archives:2006/913/Local News]

January 19 2006

Shabwa, Jan. 17 ) An Italian archaeological mission working in Yemen has discovered the largest ancient building in Shabwa. As reported in 26 September newspaper, Shabwa antiquities manager said, “The mission carried out excavations for 25 days in the royal palace in old Tamnu' city. The palace goes back to the fifth century BC. The site turned out to be the largest temple discovered in Arabia.”

Tamnu' lies in Ausailan-Baihan district, 170 kilometers west of Ataq, capital of Shabwa. It is also 150 kilometers west of historic Shabwa on the old caravan route.

“An American mission for human studies worked at the same site in 1951 and a French mission also worked there,” the manager noted.

He continued, “The Italian mission rediscovered the building and removed earth that accumulated on it the past 50 years. The astonishing fact they discovered was that what was once thought to be a royal palace of the Qatabani state turned out to be one of its biggest temples. Its dimensions are approximately 42 by 35 meters. It contains nine bases in the front courtyard and 16 granite pillars.” He added that worship ceremonies were held in the temple.

“Excavations will resume this season on the eastern side of the discovered temple to reveal the secrets of neighboring buildings,” the manager stated. “Archeological excavations in the governorate have marked out 74 archeological sites so far.”

Sixty temples are estimated to be in Tamnu' city alone. Two smaller temples previously were discovered in the city.