Showing posts with label Archaeology in Yemen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Archaeology in Yemen. Show all posts

January 24, 2016

A rose may be a rose, but an architectural pillar is not always the same archaeologically significant pillar

After posting a damage notification on Friday regarding the Bar'an Temple, also known as the Moon Temple in Ma'rib, Yemen, عرش بلقيس ARCA and Archaeology in Yemen received word late yesterday evening via text message that the images portrayed via multiple news outlets across Yemen and elsewhere in social media were not of the Bar'an Temple.  With little more to go on besides, "the images are wrong" I and the administrator of Archaeology in Yemen set about reconfirming the details, as even well-meaning heritage professionals, who do our best to double and triple fact check before reporting, make mistakes. 

Pouring through BBC and Youtube videos and hundreds of images and PDFs via the Sana'a Branch of the Orient Department of the German Archaeological Institute we now know the commenter was correct.  Most importantly, we now know what site was depicted in the January 14, 2016 reports and have more details than we had at the time of the original reporting.   For correction purposes, we will be leaving this re-identification notice up on both this and the original incorrect post pages so as to prevent any further misidentification. 

The site damaged which was incorrectly identified as the Bar'an Temple (Moon Temple), Ma'rib, Yemen, عرش بلقيس  is actually the Almaqah Temple in Ṣirwāḥ, Yemen معبد إلمقه.

One of the great religious centers of ancient Arabia, Sirwah, is located 120 km east of Sanaa and 40 km west of Ma'rib.  The site is situated between the Yemeni highlands to the west and the Rub al Khali, or Empty Quarter to the east.  This temple's location is thirty minutes by car away from the Bar'an Temple, or at least it would be, if you were travelling during peace time from one historically pillar-filled site to the other. 

From January 14th through January 16, 2016 Saudi-led coalition warplanes resumed their airstrikes on Yemen.  On Thursday, January 14th as many as 20 sorties were reported by witnesses and various regional news services and social media.   Some of these engagements targeted the Sirwah district in the Ma’rib Province of Yemen and it is following those strikes that the damages to the Almaqah Temple in Ṣirwāḥ started to go public.

Details of the damage to the historic site can be seen in the video clip below and in the comparison photos found in this post.  As has been reported time and time again, the air strikes in this conflict are not differentiating between military, civilian and archaeological targets and the result is both a humanitarian and historic catastrophe.

But even with this much documentation, we still cannot ascertain if this is new damage, or damages sustained earlier in the conflict as intensive airstrikes have been carried out in this region since Saudi-coalition troops pushed into the district in early October 2015. There were also earlier reports of some unidentified level of damage to the site on April 27, 2015 however we have not been able to date what happened to the site during what incident as of yet.


While the recent report of "new" damages came out on January 14, 2014 it was just a few short hours after that when Arabic news services started to get either the impacted site's name wrong or displayed the correctly named site but with incorrectly sourced photo imagery, which brings me back to my original a pillar is not a pillar statement.   This is what makes site identification from the safety of a non conflict country difficult and why news sources closer to the engagement must be checked and rechecked by multiple sets of eyes for accuracy something that isn't always a perfect science when site identifications are being done by volunteers with limited time and resources at their disposal.


For the record, the news sources reporting the sites incorrectly are:

News of Yemen - Reported photos of the damage sustained at the Almaqah Temple but stated the site's name as The Queen of Sheba Temple in Marib. 

Sa'ada News - Identified the Almaqah Temple correctly and stressing that the damages occurred on January 14, 2016, but carried a photo of the Bar'an Temple (Moon Temple), Ma'rib, 

Yalmashhad News - Reported photos of the damage sustained at the throan of the Queen of Sheba in Marib using a photo of the Bar'an Temple (Moon Temple), Ma'rib, 

Sana'a City - Identified the Almaqah Temple correctly, but carried no photo.  

Almaqah Temple pillers in Sirwah, Yemen. NOTE: that large missing piece is already reflected in the upper earlier dated photo. This is not conflict damage.
News sources reporting the site incorrectly are:

The Boulevard - Identified the Almaqah Temple correctly and stressing that the damages occurred on January 14, 2016.  Carries a correct photo, though it is unclear if this if of damages or the excavation.

Almasirah News -  Identified the Almaqah Temple correctly and carries a correct photo of the porticos six pillars. 

The temple in Sirwah is believed to have been dedicated to the Sabaean god Almaqah, whose temple's dedicatory inscription at Sirwah read ‘Ba’al Awa’el’,or "Master of the Ibex" which helps explain the continuous line of ibex heads found on external surfaces at the site.  

Sadly the main tower, appears to be severely damaged by the force of the hit, which cracked an inscription dating back to the seventh century BCE. Damage have also been documented along the row of carved ibexes on the outside of its temple wall.  Lastly, one of the portico's six misidentified pillars which appeared to have been damaged by the conflict is instead historically missing the dramatic chunk publicised across the web. 

By:  Lynda Albertson

Photos used for Identification in this report in order of presentation:

3D model - Abdelhafiz 2009
From Top to Bottom Mabkhot Mohtem, Almasirah.net, Tihamahnews
Left to right - Panaramio and News of Yemen
Top to Bottom - Sarah Rijziger-History Today and News of Yemen 






January 22, 2016

Damages to the of Bar'an Temple (Moon Temple) , Ma'rib, Yemen, عرش بلقيس


UPDATE: After posting a damage notification on Friday regarding the Bar'an Temple, also known as the Moon Temple in Ma'rib, Yemen, عرش بلقيس ARCA and Archaeology in Yemen received word late yesterday evening via text message that the images portrayed via multiple news outlets across Yemen and elsewhere in social media were not of the Bar'an Temple.  With little more to go on besides, "the images are wrong" I and the administrator of Archaeology in Yemen set about reconfirming the details, as even well-meaning heritage professionals, who do our best to double and triple fact check before reporting, make mistakes. 

Pouring through BBC and Youtube videos and hundreds of images and PDFs via the Sana'a Branch of the Orient Department of the German Archaeological Institute we now know the commenter was correct.  Most importantly, we now know what site was depicted in the January 14, 2016 reports and have more details that we had at the time of the original reporting.   For correction purposes, we will be leaving this re-identification notice up on both this and the original incorrect post pages so as to prevent any further misidentification.

The site damaged which was incorrectly identified as the Bar'an Temple (Moon Temple), Ma'rib, Yemen, عرش بلقيس  is actually the Almaqah Temple in Ṣirwāḥ, Yemen.

Please consider the original posting below as incorrect.  Corrected information can be found in this revision.  




From the capital of Sana'a to Ma'rib, Aden, Dhale, Hajjah, Hodayda, Sa'ada, Shabwa, and Ta'iz: Mohannad al-Sayani, the Director of Yemen's General Organization of Antiquities and Museums has stated that at least 23 sites and monuments have been severely damaged or destroyed since beginning of the conflict in Yemen. 

ARCAArchaeology in Yemen and Archaeology in Syria Network are trying to document all of them.

Bar'an Temple, Ma'rib Governorate, Yemen



Information on social media first reported that Yemen's Bar'an Temple, located next to Ma‘bid ash Shams in Ma'rib Governorate was damaged as a result of the ongoing conflict on or around January 14, 2016.

Yemen journalists and eye witnesses state that Saudi forces damaged parts of the temple's main pillars as well as epigraphic remains that contain writing in the Old Line Sabaean as the result of shelling in Sirwah area of Marib province.

Research on this location produced a lengthy group of names. Known as the Bar'an Temple, the Almaqah Temple, The Moon Temple, the Al-Amaid, and also as Arsh Bilquis, (the Arabic name for the Queen of Sheba) and the Throne of Bilquis the site is located about 85 miles east of the capital, Sana`a and two miles southeast of Ma'rib  at 15.4032200 (latitude in decimal degrees), 45.3430900 (longitude in decimal degrees).

The temple is believed to have been built by Mukarrib Yada`'il Dharih in between the 7th and 5th century BCE and was dedicated to the worship of the moon god Ilmaqah, although the names of two other Sabaean deities, Hawbas and Athtar also appear in some of the site's engravings.

The Sanaa Branch of the Deutches Archaeologisches Institut (DAI), headquartered in Berlin, initiated the excavation of the Bar'an temple in 1988 as part of a larger project centered in the Marib province. Excavation of the temple was completed in 1997, however conservation work continued for another four seasons.  The site was formally opened to the public on November 18, 2000.

The five pillars marking the entrance to this temple and inner cella, are considered to be the tallest in South Arabia. The temple grounds themselves include a ritual well and an altar for sacrifice as well as smaller altars and several alabaster benches arranged around the inner perimeter walls.

Prior to this current attack, the site was also targeted, as a result of unrest.  On Monday July 2, 2007 a suspected al-Qaida suicide bomber detonated his car inside the gates of the ancient temple killing seven Spaniards tourists and two Yemenis.

NOTE:  Archaeology in Yemen has been informed that some of the original photos identified as part of the Bar'an Temple are not part of the site.  If you have any further information or can help with identification please contact ARCA in the comments section below so we can pass your name to the AiY administrators.

For more photos of the purported damage and to follow Archaeology in Yemen on Facebook, please click here. 

January 15, 2016

Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen, Before and After Site was Struck by Air Raids May 21, 2015.

Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen, Before Airstrikes
Photo date and photographer unknown.
From the capital of Sana'a to Ma'rib, Aden, Dhale, Hajjah, Hodayda, Sa'ada, Shabwa, and Ta'iz: Mohannad al-Sayani, the Director of Yemen's General Organization of Antiquities and Museums has stated that at least 23 sites and monuments have been severely damaged or destroyed since beginning of the conflict in Yemen. 

ARCA, Archaeology in Yemen and Archaeology in Syria Network are trying to document all of them. 

Site 1: Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen  
 قلعة القاهرة, تعز, ال
Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen, Before Airstrikes
Photo date and photographer unknown.

Al-Qahira Castle(also known as Cairo Castle) is located on the highest mountain in Taiz city. Throughout history it has been a contested site of battles for the rulers who ruled Taiz as the stronghold has both a spectacular vantage point and is a defensive fortress that when occupied by military forces, makes it strategic for the control of the city.

Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen, Photo
Uploaded June 08 2015 by Yemen Post Newspaper
The book "Taiz City, Green Branch in the Arab History", written by previous Taiz Archeological Office's Director Mohammad al-Mujahed, dates the historical construction of the castle back to the Sulaihi State between 426- 532, after Hijrah. This book states that Sultan Mohammad Assulaihi was the ruler who ordered the building of the castle though the dates of origin differ in many historic documents.

Due to its strategic point in this current conflict, the castle was targeted by airstrikes on May 21, 2015 and sustained substantial damage.

Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen,
Photo Taken May 21, 2014 by Yalwasat News
Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen, Photo
Uploaded on March 11, 2012 by Al-Awsh.
Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen, Photo Uploaded
to Flickr May 21, 2014 by Gamal Alkirshi.
Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen, Photo Uploaded
to Flickr May 21, 2014 by Gamal Alkirshi
Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen, Photo Uploaded
to Flickr May 21, 2014 by Gamal Alkirshi
Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen, Photo Uploaded
to Flickr May 21, 2014 by Gamal Alkirshi 
Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen,
Photo Uploaded to Flickr May 21, 2014
by Gamal Alkirshi
Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen,
Photo Uploaded to Flickr May 21, 2014
by Gamal Alkirshi 
 
Satelite Comparisons - Al-Qahera Castle, Taiz, Yemen,
Photo Credit - EAMENA team