Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kingdom of Awsan
The ancient Kingdom of Awsan in South Arabia (modern Yemen), with a capital at Hagar Yahirr in the wadi Markha, to the south of the wadi Bayhan, is now marked by a tell or artificial mound, which is locally named Hagar Asfal. Once it was one of the most important small kingdoms of South Arabia. The city seems to have been destroyed in the 7th century BCE by the king of Sabaa Karib il Watar, according to a Sabaean text that reports the victory in terms that attest to its significance for the Sabaeans.
First impressions in the mid 1990s, based on ceramics found by M. Saad Ayoub at the unexcavated site, date a resurgence of the city to the end of the 2nd century BCE lasting until the beginning of the 1st century CE. About 160,000 m² were encircled by walls, and the foundations of dwellings built of fired brick have been noted. Culture depended on annual flood irrigation in spring and summer, when flash floods down the wadis temporarily flooded the fields, leaving light silt that has since been wind-eroded, revealing the ancient patterns of fields and ditches. Radiocarbon dating of irrigation sediments in the environs suggest that essential irrigation was abandoned in the first half of the 1st century CE, and the population dispersed. This time the site was never rebuilt.
Hagar Yahirr was the center of an exceptionally large city for south Arabia, influenced by Hellenistic culture, with temples and a palace structure surrounded by mudbrick dwellings, with a probable site for a souq or market and a caravanserai serving camel caravans. One of its kings at this period was the only Yemeni ruler to be accorded divine honours; his surviving portrait statuette is dressed in Greek fashion, contrasting with those of his predecessors who are dressed in Arabian style, with kilt and shawl. There are Awsan inscriptions, in the Qatabanian language.
The siting of Hagar Yahirr is consonant with other capitals of petty kingdoms, at the mouths of large wadis: Ma'in in the wadi Jawf, Marib in the wadi Dana, Timna in the wadi Bayhan, Hagar Yahirr in the wadi Markha and Shabwa in the wadi Irma.
- Télédetection archéologique dans la Wadi Markha (in French)
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