SABA - Yemen news agency

Print date: 19-12-2018
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  About Yemen
Ancient Yemeni Cities.
An article by Dr. Mahmood A. Razak

from the planning form, it was known that a town, or a city,had a rectangular area- shape e.g. Mareb, while some historians thought of it squared with round corners e.g. Shabwa and other ancient towns as Hareeb, Yaleet, Yaleet-Al-Oyoom, Saud Kharaba, and Maeen in Al-Jawf. Usually each town used to be surrounded by squared or rectangular shapes of walls e.g. Gharyoon, south of Al-Mash\'had in Hadramout. Contrary to the proceeding details, towns as Al-Haz had on oval shape, while it height today ranges from 6 to 8 meters and its fencing wall has five gate-entrances. Similarly from the ruins of Qataban in Al-Naqab region situated northeast of Beihan this town was ovally shaped in constructional designing.

In other cases sokhum town was rounded, Sahreeb-Shamaal had a round fence with three gates only, and Takhti-solomon through its ruins was also rounded. The latter was built in an area 2100-kilometer south-east of Aurmia Sea (Red Sea today). Thus, from one case to another the construction shapes of the towns/ cities differed.

In another respective related to the base levels of these ancient towns/ cities, it was revealed that they may either be raised high up on a highland, such as Al-Baraber town in Wadi Girdan (during the fifth century B.C).

The town was extending over 400 meters area, and had a fence of three gates with corners of five angles. However, may towns were either of a highly -elevated bases, or were usually built on highlands and cliffy mountains. In some cases, they were placed on a flat area on one side of a mountain e.g.

Al-Jawf region, ancient Mareb, Beihan, Khahlan, Sheibn and hudhab of Hadramout. While still in cases, towns were raised upon a projected cliff, such an Al-Jamhalih town in ancient Amadiyah, which was situated upon a high mountain cliff rising 2438 meters.

Its surrounded walls had a rocky peak, and on rocks extending right from the sea beneath.
The castles and fortresses were often built for defensive purposes as for example one situated in Maifan town of Naqab-al-Hajjar. This was described by the explorer R. Royan steade, as well as, with some missions to South Arabia since 1889 in the form of slides and photographs.

As for their shapes, usually they were squared and of a medium size-range, while the average height of the walled-fence, that encompassed the residential groupings of citizens, ranged from 30 to40 feet, with highly placed towers and two north and south facing entrances.

Between those two entrances right at the middle, a water tank was usually placed, and a passage after them .
Al-Haz town, for instance, represents an archeological site with a rectangular shape of the whole region, at the north side of which one can view the presence of a an open yard, but with closed sides round in shape, while rising two meters above the level of the street ground.

The main town entrance was built through a gate at the middle of the front part.
According to the scholar Phillipy, the Nagran castle, situated at the farthest end south-west of a long tunnel, was constructed with three meters wall height, while the main town entrance been situated at the north-eastern corner facing the town itself.

From the western and northern directions, the wall length extended 250yards and the constructed part of the town was of 250 square yards in area Usually, too, the stones used for the building process were usually large in size, something like a length of three meters, 1,4 meters height and one meter thickness.

The extension of the buildings and area dimensions of the ancient towns / cities had reached such magnificence that somehow gave imaginary views.
Taking Mareb, the Capital of Sheba kingdom for example,its area as the historian Glazer described reached 1740 meters, while

Timna was 50 acres only. Again, within the same description, Shabwa was measured between 320 to 500 meters (75 acres) as recorded by few historians while others mentioned it 50 acres only.
Nevertheless, these are noticeable sizes when we compare them with ancient Jerusalem from 4 to 5 acres only in one extreme, or ancient Bogaz-Kwi of an area reaching 167.70 hectares from the other extreme At that time, the length of a town\'s extension was not accountable, or known, to ancient Yemenis.

Shabwa was extending from the northeast to the southwest, with a main entrance on its northwestern direction.

Qarnaw had in view of one historian an extension from the west to the north direction when it began to have a curved passage Same-horam (later known as Dhafar) had its buildings extended to the west and east directions, while its area shape was improperly organized.

Moreover, it had a strongly enforced gate as its main entrance together with, a temple
The buildings of ancient towns/ cities were not described in details in the history records. As the case with many of them, Mareb had a surrounding fence. At the middle of each of its four sides stood one sideway gate Its buildings were viewed in a totally compressed state of shape in their basements and walls from all the sides.

This, however, was recalled as obviously typical in traditions of housing construction of the ancient orient world, with the exception of the two main gates for entrance and exit that were said to have had an organized state of compressed foundations Such two gates were of huge sizes being one constructed at the western while the other faced it from the eastern direction.

Qarnaw wall was 400 meters long and 250 wide, and the city inside was built 15 meters above the ground level in order to avoid impacts of flooding. On each of its four sides, stood an inspection tower. As for Mareb, the western gate measured 2,90 meters width and 2,4 height.

Close to the strong sides of the main entrance gate, a passage of 3,85 meters length was made Some more details were also recorded on the dimensions of the back walls surrounding some ancient towns/ cities, together with, existence of tunnels built for sheltering purposes, beside the structure of some town\'s streets,alleys, and other boundaries