Mareb Antiquities museum to flourish tourism & economy [Archives:2005/832/Culture]

April 11 2005

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
The Yemen's State Authority for Antiquities and Manuscripts is working for the establishment of the “Sabaean Museum Project” in the governorate of Mareb. The American government has in this regard recently offered three million dollars for the implementation of the project. The project is aimed at boosting tourism and economy in the region. It is expected that Mareb would be the first of tourist areas in the Middle East because of what it is in possession of historical sites relating the story of the Queen Bilqis following a mystery dating to thousands of years before Islam.

Many antiquities there have remained buried under sands of he desert of the ancient city of Mareb and none of them have been known but the pillars of the Sun Temple and remains of the Mareb Dam till the year of 2001' those remains of the dam helped disclosing secrets of the Sabaean kingdom which were buried and attracting wonder and admiration of the Yemenis and visitors from over the world.

The museum is designed to be built beside the throne of Bilqis, the most important historical site among Yemen's antiquities. The throne is known for its five pillars and the sixth one is broken. Those pillars were used to be shooting high amidst sand dunes surrounding the throne area.

According to historical sources, the Bilqis Tempe is situated to the southwest of the old city of Mareb. It is about four km far from it and one km to the northwest of Bilqis Mahram. It is one of the most important temples of the Sabaean kingdom built in the governorate of Mareb. The importance of it lies in that it is the only temple where full-programmed archaeological excavations have been done and according to scientific procedures.

The history of most ancient architectural stages of the temple date back to the Makrabean age and beginning of the sixth century BC. In the old Yemeni inscriptions the temple was mention as “Braan” and that name was discovered inscribed on one of the pillars of the temple during the planning of the temple that is founded on the basis of the idea of open courtyard surrounded by corridors on three sides, and the altar situated at the front part of the courtyard. That example was the one planning of Sabaean temples was based.

The team affiliate to the American establishment for human study believes that Balqis Mahram is an astonishing discovery man has not seen for thousands of years and would be the eight wonder as the date of its building dates back to 12th century BC. Meanwhile the search and excavation of Bilqis treasures are the center of researchers attention. Sources specialized in studying inscriptions relate that the history of the temple building is at lest dated to the era of the Sabaean Makrab “Yadda' Il Tharh Bin Sima Ali”, who had ruled in the eight century BC when it was mentioned in one of its inscriptions that he had fenced the temple with stone wall.

The American foundation on human study had carried out partial excavations at the yard of the temple building and nearby the wall as well as the temple's cemetery. During excavations, the team found many antiquities besides large archives of inscriptions written on stones. Among the discovered antiquities, for example, two unfinished statures made of bronze, one of them representing a lion and a bull's head of bronze, a gravestone of marble, twelve bulls of marble, a statue of an animal half of it of an eagle and the other half representing a lion, two small mud statures, a statue of a camel, 15 earthen bowls. Also among discovered antiquities were parts of a basin made of bronze, inscribed dagger, part of a stone box, two amulets, two pearls, and remains of 12 bronze nails. As for inscriptions, many of the temple's inscriptions discovered by the team are considered complete archives for many historical events since the 8th century BC until the 3rd AD century. Therefore, the museum occupies a special significance to spotlight those tourist and historical features that would double the influx of number of tourists and activate investment projects in the agricultural area nearby new Mareb Dam which gives the region opportunities of building productive agricultural projects securing food for Yemen.