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Sana'a Branch

About us

The study area of the Sana'a branch office extends from the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula to the northern part of the Horn of Africa. In order to comprehensively reconstruct the ancient cultural landscapes of these regions, we carry out archaeological excavations and surveys as well as architectural and art-historical investigations.

The projects are characterised by their diversity and range from case studies and fundamental research to comprehensive collaborative projects (link: TANA, Ground Check, cluster research of the DAI). The Sana'a branch office uses modern recording methods such as 3D laser scanning (fig. 4), photogrammetry, and orthophotography via quadcopters. We closely collaborate with national and international partners from different disciplines. Next to archaeology, these include epigraphy, historical research, geology, physical geography, paleozoology and botany, ethno-history, geodesy, and geophysics.

Preserving and presenting the cultural heritage in these regions is another of the branch office's main responsibilities. Together with the antiquities authorities of the respective countries, we create digital heritage registers for Yemen and Northern Ethiopia that serve not only for scientific evaluation, but also for the  monitoring of endangered sites in crisis-struck regions and for sustaining prosecution of illicit trade of cultural properties (AYDA and EHDA). In addition, we prepare management plans for the sites we investigate, carry out restoration and consolidation measures for monuments and found objects, and moreover engage in the development of tourism at the sites we excavate. The implementation of training programmes furthermore upholds the exchange with both Yemeni and Ethiopian colleagues, despite the currently challenging political circumstances. Local capacity building measures as well as the conception and planning of local museums and archaeological exhibitions contribute to the raising of awareness of the cultural heritage of these regions.

The complex political situations in Yemen and Northern Ethiopia have resulted to the suspension of the branch office's archaeological field projects. Emphasis is therefore placed on processing data obtained during previous fieldwork and recording artefacts from early excavations and kept at the National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

How we are organised

The Sana'a branch office, which was founded in 1978, is currently both scientifically and administratively managed by its director in Berlin. The offices are located in Habelschwerdter Allee in Berlin, Dahlem. The staff at the institute in Sana'a (one administrative employee and two other local employees), supervise cultural preservation projects locally and execute administrative tasks.

Grabungsarbeiten in der sabäischen Stadt Sirwah (Jemen) © DAI, Außenstelle Sanaa // Irmgard Wagner
Archäologischer Survey in der Oase von Marib (Jemen), Dokumentation eines antiken Bauwerks © DAI, Außenstelle Sanaa // Holger Hitgen
3D-Scans am sog. Verwaltungsgebäude in Sirwah (Jemen) © DAI, Außenstelle Sanaa // Irmgard Wagner
Restaurierung und Konsolidierung des Großen Tempels in Yeha (Äthiopien), u. a. durch den Einbau eines Edelstahlgerüstes im Inneren © DAI, Außenstelle Sanaa // Klaus Mechelke
Die Arbeiten am neuen Site Museum in Yeha (Äthiopien) © DAI, Außenstelle Sanaa // Oliver Thiel
Dokumentation von Objekten in den Archiven des National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa (Äthiopien) © DAI, Außenstelle Sanaa // Johannes Kramer


Interaction processes, mobility of people and objects, formation of complex societies, sacred buildings, and sepulchral landscapes, religion and cult, as well as water management in arid regions under changing climatic conditions are but some of the current issues studied by the Sana'a branch office in South Arabia and the northern part of the Horn of Africa. These topics have developed over the last 45 years of research by the DAI in South Arabia, today's Yemen.

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Topics & Outlook

The study area of the Sana'a branch office reaches from South Arabia to the northern part of the Horn of Africa within a time frame chiefly ranging  between the 3rd millennium BC and the beginnings of Islam.

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Research results and reports on the scientific work of the Sana'a branch office regularly appear in the publications of the Orient Department. In addition to the excavation reports, monographs dedicated to special topics as well as commemorative volumes, and articles on specific issues supplement the publication spectrum.

Authors can publish in the journal Zeitschrift für Orient-Archäologie (ZorA), the series Archäologische Berichte aus dem Yemen (ABADY), Hefte zur Kulturgeschichte des Jemen and Epigraphische Forschungen auf der Arabischen Halbinsel (EFAH).

Reports on excavation work and project progress are published in the semi-annual DAI e-Forschungsberichten (e-reports).

Guidelines for author's and reference information: Editorial staff of the Orient Department


Find out more about the projects of the Sanaa office.

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