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.