Yemenite Jewish children in 1901
Yemenis in Sanaa, 1901
These are photos on Youtube of the Haradh (حرض) peace conference in Yemen taken in May, 1965 by Richard Blalock. In attendance were Shaykh ‘Abd Allāh al-Aḥmar, Ustādh Nu‘mān and Qadi ‘Abd al-Raḥman al-Iryānī.
̇(Thanks to Charles Schmitz for forwarding this.)
The past of Yemen is preserved in many ways, including quite a few postcards from the early part of the 20th century, especially from Aden. Here are a few examples. If you have any you would like to see posted to this blog, please email the webshaykh at email@example.com.
AIYS held two well-attended panels at MESA in Boston last week. Here are some of the photos from the panel organized by Dan Mahoney on the destruction of Yemen’s cultural heritage:
Dr. Lamya Khalidi, Dr. Krista Lewis and Dr. Dan Mahoney at MESA
Dr. McGuire Gibson at the heritage panel. Dr. Gibson was the founder of AIYS in 1978.
Dr. Lamya Khalidi, who also provided a video of Dr. al-Sayani, the current Director of the General Organization of Antiquities and Museums in Yemen.
And here are photos from the panel organized by Dr. Marieke Brandt:
In 2011, millions of Yemenis calling themselves the Peaceful Youth joyfully joined the “Arab Spring.” Four years later, popular aspirations for social justice and a serious attempt at national dialogue were thwarted by deadly domestic power struggles. When the pro-Saudi, US-supported government fled to Riyadh in April 2015, the Kingdom led a multinational military intervention inside Yemen. By December, daily bombardment had killed thousands of fighters and civilians, injured and displaced hundreds of thousands, and decimated homes and infrastructure. A naval blockade cut off access to fuel, medicine, and food for millions. In addition to this humanitarian catastrophe, the ensuing chaos emboldened al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and led the group ISIS to expand there.
Perfect for understanding the political economy, geopolitics and social relations of the region.Prof. Laleh Khalili, University of London, SOAS
Arabia Incognita helps readers understand this tragic misadventure by tracing the Arabian Peninsula’s modern history from Yemen’s strong anti-imperial movement of the 1960s through the present series of conflicts. The majority of the essays focus on Yemen’s colorful and complex internal socio-political dynamics; others draw attention to parallel, often inter-connected disharmonies inside the Gulf’s petro-kingdoms; wider regional upheavals and movements; and America’s deep, vast and very problematic security involvement in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula.
The recently published Yemeni observing report about SN 1006 from al-Yamani clearly gives AD 1006 Apr 17±2 (mid-Rajab 396h) as first observation date. Since this is about 1.5 weeks earlier than the otherwise earliest reports (Apr 28 or 30) as discussed so far, we were motivated to investigate an early sighting in more depth. We searched for additional evidences from other areas like East Asia and Europe. We found that the date given by al-Yamani is fully consistent with other evidence, including: (a) SN 1006 “rose several times half an hour after sunset” (al-Yamani), which is correct for the location of Sana in Yemen for the time around Apr 17, but it would not be correct for late Apr or early May; (b) the date (3rd year, 3rd lunar month, 28th day wuzi, Ichidai Yoki) for an observation of a guest star in Japan is inconsistent (there is no day wuzi in that lunar month), but may be dated to Apr 16 by reading wuwu date rather than a wuzi date; (c) there is observational evidence that SN 1006 was observed in East Asia early or mid April; for the second half of April, a bad weather (early monsoon) period is not unlikely — there is a lack of night reports; (d) the observer in St. Gallen reported to have seen SN 1006 “for three months”, which must have ended at the very latest on AD 1006 Jul 10, given his northern location, so that his observations probably started in April. We conclude that the correctly reported details give quite high confidence in the fully self-consistent report of al-Yamani, so that the early discovery date should be considered seriously.
Announcing an Exhibition and Conference
Yemen’s World Heritage. Archaeology, Art and Architecture
Museum of Oriental Art in Venice
October 20 – December 16, 2016
A joint initiative of:
Museums of the Veneto – Museum of Oriental Art , Veneto Institute for Cultural Heritage, Italian Archaeological Mission in Yemen, Monumenta Orientalia, Rome
The Oriental Art Museum, the Veneto Institute for Cultural Heritage and the Italian Archaeological Mission in Yemen want to promote a series of events to make known in Venice’s the historic and artistic heritage of Yemen. Since March 2015 Yemen has been in a conflict in which the bombing violated numerous protected sites both nationally and internationally recognized, and destroyed museums and monuments of the rich cultural past of the country.
Recently, UNESCO reiterated its condemnation of the destruction perpetrated against the world heritage of Yemen and initiated a campaign # Unite4Heritage, the Yemeni Heritage Week: Museums United for Yemen for 2016, involving the major museums of Europe (the British Museum, Musée du Louvre, Hermitage, etc.).
From Prehistory to the present day the extreme tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen has preserved unique features in the production of their material culture, whose forms are as native as the result of exchanges and synergies with Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean. Historians of Greek and Roman classicism used to talk about Yemen using the nickname Arabia Felix, as a land of prosperity and wealth, not only material but also geographical and territorial. Yemen was, in fact, at the center of an important caravan and maritime trade axis: here met traders from India and the Horn of Africa with those who would later traced to the north of the Peninsula to enrich the courts of the various empires in Mediterranean with products such as incense, myrrh, spices, pearls and precious stones.
The deep bond of man with the settlement territory is expressed in through the remains of south Arabian kingdoms – the most notable of which is the Kingdom of Sheba – which were already using the house typology commonly referred as Yemen “tower house”.
With the start of Islam then, the Yemeni architecture has been enhanced with new forms and stylistic paradigms, and many temples of the pagan tradition turned into mosques. Archaeological studies conducted in Yemen have shown a slow and lasting osmosis between pre-Islamic and Islamic civilization.
The initiative promoted at the Museum of Oriental Art in Venice will go right to investigate this union, to raise awareness of an almost unknown cultural heritage in the West, whose origins are lost in the often muffled contours of myth.
The initiative also wants to highlight some Italian experiences, namely that of the Italian Archaeological Mission in the Republic of Yemen (MAIRY), began in 1980 and that of the Veneto Institute for Cultural Heritage began in 2005. Both have as their purpose the protection and enhancement of Yemeni heritage and both have been accomplished in total synergy with local counterparts, thus becoming moments of much scientific as human enrichment.
A series of seminars and meetings, by national and international experts at the Oriental Art Museum, will bring the public closer to the peculiarities of the history and culture of the country. In the room which will host the conference there will be some photo-descriptive panels on display that will illustrate some aspects of archeology, art and architecture of Yemen as direct testimony of both the Italian Archaeological Mission and the Veneto Institute for Cultural Heritage.
The following roundtable will take place at the annual MESA meeting in Boston on November 18.
[R4434] The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Yemen and Current Preservation Efforts
Created by Daniel Mahoney
Friday, 11/18/16 10:00am
Participants: McGuire Gibson, David B. Hollenberg, Krista Lewis, Lamya Khalidi
This roundtable, sponsored by the American Institute for Yemeni studies, will discuss the destruction of cultural heritage in Yemen, in light of the Saudi coalition air strikes as well as the ensuing internal conflict and rising Islamism, in order to assess the extent of damage and solutions for current protection and future preservation. Since March 2015, Saudi coalition air strikes have been conducted in Yemen under the stated purpose of countering Houthi rebels who had taken control of the capital Sanaa and a large part of the country. This offensive has left over 6,000 dead, over 30,000 wounded, and 2.5 million internally displaced. Another result has been the continuous destruction of over 47 archaeological sites and monuments, as confirmed by Mohannad Al-Sayani, director of the General Organization for Antiquities and Museums of Yemen. These include not only historical mosques and citadels, but also 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites including the celebrated vernacular architecture of old Sanaa, the pre-Islamic cities of Baraqish and Sirwah, and the famed Marib dam, all of which have already previously undergone significant restoration efforts. Additionally, more than six museums have been damaged by aerial shelling, among them the regional museum of Dhamar and the National Museum of Sanaa. This extensive destruction clearly provokes further questioning into the motivations of these campaigns which seem to target highly valued places of cultural heritage. The pattern becomes further complicated by the confirmation that, while the U.S. State Department (and UNESCO) had given the Saudi coalition a list of specific sites to avoid and their location, they also provided it with logistical support and intelligence for their military offensive. Conversely, other efforts have are being made to try to preserve and document Yemeni heritage before it is lost, such as the Yemeni Manuscript Digitization Initiative, wherein a team of scholars from inside and outside of Yemen are working together to create a digital library of manuscripts taken from private collections in Yemen. By addressing current damage, this round table is organized with the intention of raising awareness regarding the destruction of priceless world heritage and finding current and future solutions for its protection and preservation by local authorities and specialists.
Medieval Worlds 3:116 – 145, 2016.
A pdf is available here.
Genealogies are emic forms of social representation among many tribes in the Arab world. The formability of these genealogies for the purposes of politics and alliances is a common phenomenon. It becomes particularly obvious if one looks at the case of the Shākir tribe and its main divisions Wāilah and Dahm in the region of al-Jawf in northernmost Yemen. A comparison of their tribal genealogies and settlement areas in the tenth century CE, as described by the Yemeni scholar and historian al-Ḥasan al-Hamdānī, with their tribal structures and territories in the twenty-first century shows the enormous extent of change to which the Shākir, especially Dahm, have been subject in the past millennium. These changes seem to reflect in part the continuous immigration of external tribal groups to which the fringes of the Rubʿ al-Khālī desert have historically been exposed, and their inclusion into the local societies and thus the evolving genealogy of Shākir. These elements of residential discontinuity and mobility contrast with the more general pattern of territorial continuity and stasis prevailing in the central areas of Yemen. Yet the genealogy of Shākir proved to be more open towards these intrusive groups than towards the original inhabitants of the area itself: in contemporary al-Jawf remain descendants of ancient groups who are considered the aboriginal inhabitants of the area and who were neither given equal status to Shākir nor included into the Shākir genealogy. Seen in this light, the genealogies and semi-legendary traditions of al-Hamdānī’s al-Iklīl also served to evoke a vision of community and of common identities among the heterogeneous societies of South Arabia and to legitimize them as heirs of a country and its history, which in parts was not inherently their own.