Since 2001, the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and the General Organization of Antiquities and Museums (GOAM) have carried out excavations and restauration measures in the ancient Sabaean town of Sirwah, province of Marib. During the 1st millennium B.C., it formed the most important centre of the Sabaean kingdom next to the ancient metropolis of Marib. The large town was surrounded by a fortification wall, and included many monumental buildings, of which the most prominent is the Almaqah Temple, a sanctuary that dates back to the 7th century B.C., and is currently undergoing restauration. The restauration of Sirwah is financed by the DAI and the Yemeni Social Fund of Development (SFD).
During the restauration work, the DAI discovered another unique and well preserved Sabaean temple as part of the ancient town (photo attached). The sacred building has a monumental entrance decorated with pillars and different rooms inside. The ground plan and the construction features of the temple are singular in Yemen: tower-like projections divide the exterior facade of the sanctuary and the building material consists of a phenomenal wood/stone construction.
The director of the DAI in Sanaa, Dr. Iris Gerlach, pointed out that the new discovery will be included in the restauration of the ancient town that runs parallely to the ongoing excavations. Dr. Gerlach further emphasized that monumental ancient pillars of the huge Almaqah Temple were re-erected by a crane last week in Sirwah (photo attached). In a first step the up to 6 tons weighing pillars were analysed by ultrasonic measurements to check possible cracks inside the stones. Afterwards the cracks were fixed with steel dowels invisible to the outside, glued together and filled up with mortar. Seven other pillars were laid down by the crane to be restored in October this year.
The ancient town of Sirwah was connected with overland trade along the incense route but also via trading routes within South Arabia, from the Yemeni highlands down to the old caravan kingdoms on the edge of the Ramlat as-Sabatayn. Numerous cultic installations such as altars, banqueting areas for ritual meals, deposits of the bones of sacrificial animals, a treasure chamber for storing hundreds of votives provide evidence of intensive ritual procedures at the town's sanctuaries. The focal point of the temple was formed by two monumental inscriptions by the two Sabaean rulers Yithar'amar Watar bin Yakrubmalik (715 B.C.) and Karib `il Watar (685 B.C.). The over 7 meter-long monolithic inscription stones report on the both warlike and civil deeds of these rulers.
For 30 years, Germany and Yemen have jointly conducted archaeological and restauration projects which have allowed to preserve some of Yemen's most valuable ancient sites. The excavation and preservation of ancient monuments in Yemen does not only serve scientific purposes. It also largely contributes to promoting the image of Yemen as an ancient nation of rich culture and great variety, thus attracting tourists from all over the world and stimulating Yemen's economy.
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German Archeological Institute makes spectacular archaeological discovery at the ancient Sabaean town of Sirwah (province of Marib) zur Verfügung gestellt. Jede weitere Nutzung dieses Bildmaterials ist nur mit unserer ausdrücklichen Genehmigung gegen Honorar gestattet.
photo credit: DAI, Irmgard Wagner