Prof. Dr. Paul Yule: Zafar, capital of the Himyar Empire

The ancient capital, Zafar, lies 130km south-south-west of the capital, Sana’a, in the southern highlands at 2800m altitude, blessed by rainy during the greater and lesser monsoons and rich soil. Thus far the great historical meaning of the ruined city Zafar, capital of the Himyarite tribal confederacy (sovereignty 110 BCE – 525 CE) has escaped proper consideration despite the fact that she reveals herself as a rich source which illuminates especially the centuries just preceding the arrival of Islam. Research took place between 1998 and 2010 in nine field campaigns. In 2002 we finished the re-organisation of the Zafar Site Museum magazine and installed an English–Arabic exhibition based on posters. 220 Himyarite inscriptions and 900 reliefs have been catalogued to date. They range in date from the 3rd – early 6th centuries, at the end of which Christians and Jews took up arms against each other. The intellectual, artistic and religious fermentation in Zafar provides a fruitful ground for our studies.

Institution: University of Heidelberg, HeidICON (Zafar Image Archiv), Virtual Museum