Category Archives: Archaeology

2019 AIYS Yemeni Fellowship Meeting

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2019 AIYS Fellows
(top row, left to right) Mansure Jubbara (Ṣa‘da University), Shadad Al-Ali,  Director of GOAM in Dhamar, Ahmad al-Shawafi, Walid Al-Murisi, Dr Efterkar Almekhlafi, Dr Halah Jabbori, Dr. Salwa Dammaj;
(bottom row), Mohammed Jazem, Salah al-Kowmani (Dhamār University), (far right) Khalid al-Dhafari (Ibb University).

A seminar was held on Thursday, June 2019 in the AIYS premises for the 2019 AIYS Fellowships. Eleven Yemeni researchers out of 72 applicants received the 2019 Fellowship award. AIYS is the only international institute currently providing fellowships to Yemeni scholars in Yemen. If you would like to contribute to a special fund only used for fellowships to Yemeni scholars, click here.

The 2019 Yemeni scholars’ research included a variety of specializations including the sciences, agriculture, social domain, history, Arabic inscriptions, antiquities, and law. Four awarded researches aimed to study topics in Yemen’s history and antiquities. One research topic is concerned with the war’s devastating impacts upon education and pupils in the northern region of Sa‘da. Another research  intended to verify some old Yemeni Kufic inscriptions. Scientific researches are focusing on water shortages in Yemen and exploring possible solutions, endemics disease outbreaks and how to contain risks.

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Mohammed Jazem

The following awarded researchers provided brief presentations about their researches.
1. Dr. Eftekar Almekhlafi, her research titled: Selling Children: a Study of Law and Fiqh.
2. Dr. Maher al-Maqtari, his research titled:  The Possibility of Planting Barley and Grain Plants with Saline Water Irrigation in Yemen.

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Dr Maher Maktari

3. Khalid al-Dhafari, his research titled : Edited Edition of the Herbal al-Mu’tamid  fi al-adwiya al-mufrida by the Rasulid Sultan al-Malik al-Muẓaffar Yūsuf.

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Khalad al-Dhafari (Ibb University)

4. Salah al-Kawmani, his research titled: Kufic inscriptions in Dhamar, Yemen.
5. Dr. Mansur Jubbara, his research titled: The Effect of the War on the Psychological Needs of Students at  Ṣa‘da University.
6. Dr. Hala Jabbori, her research titled: The Overall Legacy Left by Cemeteries and Their Impact on Groundwater Quality.
7. Walid al-Murisi, his research titled: Prevalence and Risk Factors of Soil-Transmitted Helminth and Schistosoma mansoni among School Children in Al-Nādira District, Ibb Governorate, Yemen.

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Walid al-Murisi

8. Ahmed al-Shawafi, his research titled: Assessment of Heavy Metals Contamination in Groundwater and Using Natural Zeolite to Remove Them in Banī al-Ḥarith District, Ṣan‘ā’.

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Ahmad al-Shawafi

9. Muhammad Jazem: Study and Analysis of a Manuscript about Irrigation Rights in Wadi Dhahr.
10. Saeed Baniwas, a researcher from Hadramout, provided a presentation about his research through Skype. His research is entitled: Ecological and Biological Study of the Varroa destructor Mite on Honey bees in Doan Valley, Hadhramout Governorate.

At the end of the seminar the researchers were paid 80% of the total amount of the fellowship grant, while the remain 20% was held back until the researchers get their studies finished.

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Dr Efterkar Almekhlafi, Dr Salwa Dammaj

Dr. Salwa Dammaj, Resident Director

نقوش هندسية مستديرة

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أحتاج اليمني قديما إلى تجميع مياه الغيول الشحيحة في خزانات كبيرة لإستخدامها في كميات كافية لري الأراضي الزراعية.الحل المناسب تشييد خزانات لتجميع مياه الغيل داخ الخزانات خلال فترة زمنية معينة لاتزيد عن اليوم والليلة .

الفكرة موجودة … لكن التنفيذ الهندسي يعتبر مشكلة في أرض كلها تربه طينية منتفخة وعمقها كبير .

لا شيء يعيق العقل اليمني القديم فلابد من إيجاد حلول لتشييد مثل هذه الخزانات في أرض صخرية أو طينية لا فرق في ذلك.

أولا حساب كمية الغيل المتدفق من النبع الممكن تجميعها خلال فترة زمنية محددة بعد تحديد حاجة الأراضي الزراعية في محيط قريب من موقع الغيل لغرض تحديد حجم الخزان المطلوب مستقبلا … الدراسة الإقتصادية قد تمت بدقة ليأتي دور التنفيذ .

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Continue reading نقوش هندسية مستديرة

Yemen’s Culture at Risk

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Dan Varisco discussing Yemen’s rich cultural heritage at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019

On Saturday, February 24, The Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. hosted a seminar on “Culture at Risk: Yemen’s Heritage under Threat”. This was jointly sponsored by the Sackler Gallery, CAORC and the Antiquities Coalition. The speakers included several AIYS members, including AIYS President Dan Varisco, Noha Sadek and Krista Lewis. Also speaking was Zaydoon Zaid of the American Foundation for the Study of Man and Gerald Feierstein, of The Middle East Institute and a former US Ambassador to Yemen. Information about the event is posted online and a video will be available in the future.

Below are some of the photographs of the event.

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Noha Sadek at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
CAORC Program Director Glenn Corbett introducing Krista Lewis at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Zaydoon Zayd at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Luigi Marini, Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN,  Ambassador Wafa Bughaighis of Libya to the U.S. and former U.S. Yemen Ambassador Gerald Feierstein at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019

[Photographs provided by Cory Grace of the Smithsonian.]

AIYS at MESA Update

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The annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) in San Antonio, Texas, is only a little over a month away. Yemen will be well represented this year, both in AIYS sponsored panels and individual papers. The AIYS General Information meeting, to which all are invited, will be Friday, November 16, 4-5 in room Mission B (2).

Here are the panels and papers on Yemen:
Friday, November 16, 11-1, AIYS Panel
(5224) Anthropology in War-Torn Yemen: Challenges, Dilemmas, and Alternative Methodologies.
Organizers: Susanne Dahlgren and Marina de Regt
Chair: Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Hobart & William Smith Colls.
Marina de Regt, Vrije Universiteit-Amsterdam-Finding Ways to Work on Yemen: A Plea for Engaged Scholarship
Susanne Dahlgren, U of Tampere/National U of Singapore-Securitized Yemen: Studying a Popular Revolution in the Shadow of War, Drones and Terrorism
Nathalie Peutz, NYU-Abu Dhabi-Fieldwork in a Yemeni “Village” Displaced and Constituted by War

Saturday, November 17, 8:30-10:30
(5307) Unorthodoxies Shi’ism, Sufism, Feminism
Michael Dann, U of Illinois-Zaydi and Imami Appropriations of Early Shi’i Hadith Narrators

Saturday, November 17, 11-1 AIYS Panel
(5057) The Birth of Modern Yemen: Internal Views of the 1960s Civil War
Organizer: Marieke Brandt
Chair: J. E. Peterson, Tucson, Arizona
Marieke Brandt, Austrian Academy of Sciences-A Tribe and Its States: Yemen’s 1972 Bayhan Massacre Revisited
Joshua Rogers, SOAS, U of London-Aid and Taxes: A Political Economy Analysis of the Civil War in North Yemen 1962-1970
Gabriele Vom Bruck, SOAS, U of London-Domestic Photography and Memories of Loss in Northern Yemen
Zaid Alwazir, Yemen Heritage & Research Center-The Third Force’s Role in Yemen’s Peacemaking and Achieving National Reconciliation (1964-1970)

Saturday, November 17, 3-5
(5118) Challenges Facing Yemen’s Millennia-Long Cultural Heritage (Roundtable)
Organizer: Mac Skelton, Johns Hopkins U
Chair: Sama’a Al-Hamdani, Yemen Cultural Institute for Heritage and the Arts
Alexander Nagel, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History
Najwa Adra, American Institute for Yemeni Studies and Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Nathalie Peutz, NYU Abu Dhabi
Sabine Schmidtke, Institute for Advanced Study

Saturday, November 17, 3-5
(5059) Beyond the Written Word: Unity and Diversity across Transmission and Transformation of Medieval Textual Traditions in the Arabian Peninsula
Anne Regourd, CNRS, UMR 7192-Questioning the Birth of a Tradition
Corrado la Martire, U of Cologne-How to Conceal the Tradition into the Text: Tayyibi Isma’ili “Codes of Conduct” (adab al-du’at) between Yemen and India

Sunday, November 18, 1:30-3:30
(5105) The Indian Ocean without Boundaries: A Historical Perspective
Organizer: Daniel Martin Varisco
Chair: Roxani Margariti, MESAS Department, Emory U
Craig Perry, U of Cincinnati-The Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean before 1500: Evidence and Interpretive Challenges
Andre Gingrich, Austrian Academy of Sciences-Local Knowledge in Pre-Colonial Maritime Interactions
Marina Tolmacheva, Washington State U-Managing Monsoons: Mamluk-Era Voyaging East
Daniel Martin Varisco, American Institute for Yemeni Studies-Sailing with and against the Winds: Navigation in the Red Sea Indian Ocean Network in the Ayyubid, Rasulid and Mamluk Eras

Sunday, November 18, 8:30-10:30
(5279) Composing a Community of Words in the Islamic World: From Medieval to Modern
Emily Sumner, U of Minnesota-“In Our Sea Their Sins Must Drive Them”: The Righteousness of the Huthi Zamil

Sunday, November 18,1:30-3:30
(5061) Medical Mobilities and Transformations in the Global Middle East
Shireen Hamza, Harvard U-Stretching the Body: Preparing to Travel in the Indian Ocean World

Egyptian Expedition Yemeni Manuscript List

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In December, 1951, an Egyptian delegation led by Fu’ād Sayyid ‘Imāra, the head of Arabic manuscripts in the Egyptian National library, arrived in Aden on their way to microfilm Yemeni manuscripts. They were received in Ta‘izz by Imam Aḥmad and Foreign Minister Qadi al-‘Amrī and then flew on to Ṣan‘ā’, where they had access to the Western Library of the Great Mosque. They were able to microfilm about 300 manuscripts, including from the collections of the former Imam Yaḥyā and other private collections. This important bibliographic volume is available online.

The topics covered in the manuscripts copied were the following: 110 on kalām, 35 on fiqh and ‘uṣūl, 33 on ta’rīkh, 20 on ḥadīth, 20 on adab, 19 on tafsīr and ‘ulūm al-Qu’rān, 13 on lugha, 8 on Ismā‘īliyya and extreme Shi‘a groups, 5 on various subjects, 3 on qarā’āt and tajwīd, 3 on siyāsa and ijtimā‘ and 2 on manṭiq. Because many of the manuscripts come from royal collections, this is a great asset for anyone studying Zaydi Yemen.

tarikhtarikh2Selections from the Great Mosque Western Library

Continue reading Egyptian Expedition Yemeni Manuscript List

Yemeni Arts on al-Madaniya

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Despite the turmoil and suffering in Yemen, a number of Yemeni artists are continuing to write, draw, photograph and film. One of the more exciting online resources for this is the website al-madaniya, published in English and Arabic.  Current posts include an article on Muhammad Mahmud al-Zubayri, Art in prehistoric Yemen, Yemeni songs, the poets ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Muqalih and ‘Abd Allah al-Baradduni, several short stories and much more. All the articles are published in Arabic and English, so they are also suitable for anyone interested in learning Arabic.

As note in the “About” section…

al-Madaniya magazine is a platform for Yemeni art, culture and civil society. It aims to highlight and nurture Yemeni art, culture and civil society initiatives through contributions from emerging and established writers, photographers and creatives

The magazine aims to impact the way Yemenis view their own society by providing a space for its cultural, intellectual and artistic productions, and by highlighting initiatives bridging social divisions. By presenting all contributions in both Arabic and English language, the magazine allows the international reader to explore an undiscovered side to Yemen, which differs from images of Yemen created in mainstream media

al-Madaniya magazine is a project implemented by the Yemen Polling Center and made possible by the generous funding of the German Institute of Foreign Affairs.  Yemeni artist Ibi Ibrahim has been commissioned to lead the project and serve as the Editor in Chief.

Jon Swanson on AIYS

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View of Taiz

When I arrived in Yemen with my wife and two children in January of 1974, there were few researchers in the country save perhaps for Tomas Gerholm in Manakha.  On advice from Yemeni friends in the US, we settled in Taiz where we remained until the end of July 1975. In those days there was no AIYS so we were left to sort things out on our own. About a year after we returned to Detroit I got a call from Mac Gibson about a meeting at the University of Chicago to set up a research facility in Yemen. I thought this a fine idea and took the train to Chicago where I met with Mac, the late Manfred (Kurt) Wenner, Marvin Zonis, and perhaps one or two others whose names I can’t recollect.  We ended up meeting two or three times.

Under Mac’s leadership AIYS began to set up bylaws based on the bylaws of other research groups like the American Research Center in Egypt. It was orginally proposed that we might call AIYS the “American Research Center in Yemen” but this was rejected and we eventually settled on the American Institute for Yemeni Studies. I suggested that we include a rule in the bylaws barring anyone engaged on intelligence gathering from the institute on the grounds that researchers and research would be jeopardized if we were in any way perceived as government agents. This amendment found support and was adopted.

When I returned to Yemen in 1979, AIYS was in full swing with John Mandaville as the local director.  He and his family were welcoming and very supportive. Like many researchers I stayed there briefly before I found an apartment. Other researchers there at the time included Barbara Croken, Tom Stevenson, Susan Dorsky, and Steve Caton. Subsequently Leigh Douglas became director. Leigh later taught at the American University of Beirut where he was tragically kidnapped and later assassinated by a faction of Hizballah after Reagan ordered airstrikes on Libya which killed members of Muammar Qadafis family.

From 1981-83 my then wife, Lealan Swanson, served as director of AIYS and she is best able to relate that chapter of the AIYS saga. One memory of that period which will probably not make her part of the story is that while my daughter and walking in gulleys west of Sanaa near the international school my daughter pointed out a stone hand axe. I subsequently collected a number of these and left them at AIYS. They certainly confirmed the ancient human occupation of the Sanaa plateau and the possibility of productive archaeological research in the area.

This post is part of the anniversary of AIYS at 40. Click here for other reflections.

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Digging through the Dhamar Museum Ruins

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On May 21, 2015, near the beginning of the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign over Yemen, the Dhamar Archaeological Museum, housing precious artifacts from the local area, was bombed and destroyed. As can be seen from the picture above, it was a complete leveling, resulting in the irretrievable loss of Yemen’s heritage in the region. The museum was clearly not a military target, and was not the only heritage site damaged or destroyed by deliberate Saudi bombing.

This year a CAORC Kaplan grant was given to Yemen’s Ministry of Antiquities to sift through the ruins and salvage what could be found. This is a new kind of salvage archaeology, excavating for material that had already been excavated and stored in what was thought to be a safe spot for preservation. Work has already begun on the difficult task of removing concrete and fallen walls in the hopes of finding relics that have not perished in the destruction. This is not a free-for-all, but an undertaking with scientific methods.

Pictures of the ongoing work are provided below.

dhamar6The team working on the museum site.

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Glaser Collection of South Arabian Antiquities

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One of the most important late 19th century travelers to Yemen was the Austrian Eduard Glaser, who commented on life in the Ottoman era and collected South Arabian inscriptions and antiquities. His work is archived in several places in Vienna. In the Kunsthistorische Museum there is a small collection of South Arabian art that he collected.  I visited this last week and provide several pictures of what can be seen.

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The Glaser Collection in the museum

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A project is underway to provide open access to the squeezes that Glaser made of South Arabian inscriptions.