Research Centre Ancient South Arabia and Northeast Africa

The research centre, currently located at the Chair of Semitic Philology and Islamic Studies, serves as a platform for research projects in the field of ancient Yemen and ancient Northeast Africa. It also coordinates and implements cultural preservation measures in Yemen and Ethiopia in cooperation with the Orient Department of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI, Sanaa branch).


Recent Projects

The Sabaic Online Dictionary

The DFG-funded project aims to create a Sabaic Online Dictionary. With more than 6000 inscriptions and a duration of 16 hundred years from the 10th century BC to the 6th century AD, Sabaic, which is native to the territory of present-day Yemen, is the best-attested linguistic variety within the Ancient South Arabic language community. In addition to extensive corpora of building, dedication and memorial inscriptions, there are legal texts as well as several hundred letters and economic texts written on wooden sticks.


Cultural Contacts between South Arabia and Ethiopia

This long-term research project is carried out by the Oriental Department of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and by the Research Centre Ancient South Arabia and Northeast Africa. It focuses on the cultural contacts between Sabaeans, who had arrived from South Arabia in the early first millennium BC, and the local population in the region of Tigray. Of particular interest are the processes of interaction between South Arabian and indigenous populations in the first millennium BC. The geographical centre of the research is constituted by the site of Yeha, which, due to its monumental architecture and written sources, is identified as the political and religious centre of this region.


Ethiopian Heritage Digital Atlas

The Ethiopian Heritage Digital Atlas (EHDA), funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, comprises the creation of an English-language web-based monument information system that serves Ethiopia's cultural preservation and includes site monitoring, antiquities trade monitoring and the scientific documentation of Ethiopia's cultural heritage. The system, designed jointly with the Ethiopian Department of Antiquities and Addis Ababa University and in cooperation with the German Archaeological Institute, includes the function of a systematic national register of monuments, which focuses on northern Ethiopia. Due to the political crisis, the cultural treasures of this region are acutely threatened in their preservation.

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Completed Projects

Capital of Mārib


An epigraphic subproject at the department of Semitic Philology and Islamic Studies at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. The joint archaeological and epigraphic project, ...

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Editing of Ancient South Arabic minuscule inscriptions on wooden sticks from the Bavarian State Library in Munich


The inscriptions carved in wooden sticks and palm-leaf stalks comprise documentary texts from southern Arabia in the pre-Islamic period (10th century BC to 6th century AD). In contrast to monumental inscriptions on stone blocks, rock and metal plaques, ...

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The Digitisation of the Ethio-Sabaic inscriptions

(August 2010 - March 2011)

The Ethio-Sabaic inscriptions from the northern Ethiopian and Eritrean highlands are still the only written source of information about the kingdom of DʿMT...

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Image 1: The Record of Deeds of Yiṯaʿʾamar Watar from the Almaqah temple in Ṣirwāḥ ca. 715 BC | © Norbert Nebes
Image 2: The altar of the Ethio-Sabean king Waʿrān from the Almaqah temple in Meqaber Gaʿiwa (Tigray/Ethiopia), ca. first half of the 7th century BC | © DAI: Irmgard Wagner

Image 3: EHDA, compilation of geodata in QGIS. J. Schoeneberg, Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Map data @ 2021 Google Earth

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