Corpus of South Arabian Inscriptions

Editor: Jérémie Schiettecatte

al-Ḥajar, ancient settlement
(c) Schiettecatte - CNRS


Ancient nameUnknown
Geographical areaCentral Ḥaḍramawt
CoordinatesLatitude: 16° 7' 12"    Longitude: 49° 11' 20"    
Coordinates accuracycertain
Type of siteSettlement
StructuresDwelling (indeterminate)
Dwelling (concentrated)
Light hydraulic structure (ex. canal, well)
Rock inscriptions
Location and toponomyThe site of al-Ḥajar is located on the right bank of the wâdî Masîla, 22 km east of Tarîm, just after the modern city of Qasim.
The site extends at the foot of the calcareous cliffs of Ḥaḍramawt, on the edge of a thick alluvial accumulation.
History of research1978-1979: survey by the French archaeological mission RDPY (dir. Breton): description of the site, definition of a general map, study of the extra muros temple, collection of pottery.
1999: French mission Jawf-Ḥaḍramawt: survey of the site in the framework of the HDOR investigation (HaDramawt ORiental); site number HDOR 5.
2005: French mission Jawf-Ḥaḍramawt: visit of the site by A. Benoist and J. Schiettecatte, collection of pottery.
General descriptionAl-Ḥajar is an uninhabited site extending over the vestiges of a pre-Islamic settlement.
The pre-Islamic inhabited area covers a surface of 400 x 200 m (about 8 ha), including about 25 houses and four wells.
The houses seem linked to one another at several points by a long independent wall, which forms a sort of defensive system around the site.
An extra muros sanctuary is located on a cone of fallen rocks at the foot of the calcareous cliff. A monumental staircase, 68 m long, provides access to the sanctuary. Two pillared rooms were constructed inside the sacred area; the cella was built on a podium. Numerous rooms and annexes surround the temple. The inscriptions indicate that it was devoted to the cult of the god Syn.

An ancient irrigated perimeter characterised by a thick accumulation of alluvium surrounds the site directly to the north, north-east and north-west. It is dotted with deviation walls.

On the surface of the site, the findings are characterised by ancient coins and pre-Islamic/Islamic pottery (turquoise glazed pottery).
The pre-Islamic pottery includes jars with T-shaped lips (red and black ware), rims of closed vessels with vertical lips, and rims of large bowls with thickened and incurved lips.
ChronologyThe palaeography of inscriptions is of the B type (A. Avanzini) between the 5th-1st centuries BC.
The pottery offers a parallelism with the levels B to H of Hajar bin Ḥumayd, from the second half of the 1st millennium BC (Breton 1980: 38).
The parallels with the pottery of the nearby site of Makaynûn confirm an occupation in the second half of the 1st millennium BC.
Finally, a parallel may be established between the pottery collected by the French archaeological mission in RDPY (Breton 1980 pl. III-4-7) and those from level II of the site of Jûja, dated to the 2nd-1st centuries BC (Hansen 2004: fig. 34.1-4).


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Breton 1980 aBreton, Jean-François 1980. Religious Architecture in Ancient Ḥaḍramawt (PDRY). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 10: 5-17.
Breton 1980 b: 62-64Breton, Jean-François 1980. Rapport sur une mission archéologique dans le wâdî Ḥaḍramawt (Yémen du Sud) en 1979. Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres: 57-80.
Breton et al. 1980: 38-39, 62, 66-67Breton, Jean-François, Badre, Leila, Audouin, Rémy and Seigne, Jacques 1980. Wādī Ḥaḍramawt. Prospections 1978-1979. Aden: Centre Culturel et de Recherches Archéologiques.