Ancient Arabic Arts

Ancient Arabic Arts

Ancient Arabic art, art of pre-Islamic culture on the Arabian Peninsula, in the coastal zones on the Persian Gulf since the 3rd millennium BC. Chr. (Golf culture) attested. In southern Arabia, with a focus on today’s Yemen, ancient Arabic art flourished in the 1st millennium BC. BC a. in the kingdom of the Sabaeans (Saba) and in that of the Mineans (Main), whose center was in the Djol plateau of Yemen; other ancient South Arabian empires were Hadramaut and Kataban. The heyday of Saba was in the 5th century BC. BC (centers Sirwah and Marib). At the end of the 3rd century AD, the kings of Himjar took control of all of southern Arabia, which was called “Arabia felix” (happy Arabia) because of its wealth in the ancient world.

Due to the archaeologically only partially developed fields of ruins, it is possible to prove high-quality urban cultures that require elaborate irrigation techniques. The Marib dam goes back to the 9th century BC. Mighty remains from the 6th century BC have been preserved. Medieval sources give an idea of ​​these cities with public buildings made of smoothly hewn limestone blocks (the builder is named with inscriptions), fortifications and city gates, temples and streets, markets and royal residences. The oldest sanctuary of supraregional importance was owned by the Sabaean capital Marib with its temple dedicated to the moon god, in which a more than 100 m long oval ashlar structure was connected with a rectangular vestibule, which was surrounded by a peristyle made of 32 monolithic pillars 5 m high (between 9th and 15th centuries). and 5th century BC Chr.; only remnants preserved, v. a. some limestone monoliths). Another important religious center of the Sabaean Empire was the Almaqah sanctuary in Sirwah (earliest relics from the beginning of the 7th century BC, well preserved, especially parts of the peribolus wall and monolithic rectangular pillars of a propylon).

While various symbols of gods appear on buildings and altars as well as on tablets, images of the gods have not yet been confirmed. The male statuettes consecrated to the sanctuary of Marib, which show a highly developed bronze casting as early as the middle of the 1st millennium, represent the founder named in inscriptions. Votive statuettes made of bronze and precious metal are attested by stone pedestals with dedicatory inscriptions until the late period of the Himjar Empire; the preserved alabaster statuettes with smooth knee-length robes hold their arms outstretched. The formulaic design also applies to the grave sculpture created under Egyptian influence. The Hellenistic influence that penetrated through trading partners is evident in the colossal statue of a Himjar king in the Museum of Sanaa, which comes with a Greek artist’s signature in addition to the Sabaean dedicatory inscription. – In the north of the Arabian Peninsula, the empire of the Nabataeans emerged with its own artistic development (Nabataean art), which mediates between Arabia and the Mediterranean cultures.

Arabic writing

Arabic script, name for the Arabic script, which has been around since the 3rd to 4th centuries. Century AD developed from the Nabatean, which goes back to the ancient Semitic consonant writing.

In the 7th century two forms emerged: an angular monumental script, the no longer in use Kufic script, and a round cursive script, which led to the Neschi script (Neschi), which is still used today. The Arabic alphabet consists of 28 characters (graphemes) for consonants in the usual order (except in North West Africa), which occasionally also serve as numerals (Arabic numerals). They are written from right to left and partly because they have the same shape, differentiated by diacritical points.

With Islam, the Islamized peoples also adopted the Arabic script; Today it is used to write Arabic, Persian, Pashto, Urdu, Berber, Uyghur (in China) and southern Kurd. Dialect Kurdi (in Iraq, Iran, Syria) and others. In earlier times it was also used for Turkish, Malay, Swahili, Somali, Hausa and for some Caucasian and others. Languages ​​used. Because all of these languages ​​have sounds that are foreign to Arabic, new letters have been created partly with the help of diacritical marks and partly through small changes. The style of the Neschi script was also developed into other cursive forms, especially among the Persians and Turks. The Arabic script is superior to the Latin in terms of writing speed, fluency, and ability to use ornaments.


Dammam, Ad-Dammam, port city in Saudi Arabia, on the Persian Gulf, together with Dhahran and Khobar as conurbation approx. (2018) 1.2 million residents; since 1953 (instead of Hofuf) capital of the Eastern Province.

A western city with a university and modern residential areas. As the starting point for the railway to Er-Riyadh, the powerful overseas port, which opened in 1952 and has been continuously expanded since then, is Saudi Arabia’s most important import location on the Persian Gulf (capital and consumer goods).

In 1938, near the fishing village of Dammam, the first rich oil well in Saudi Arabia was drilled in Dharan Dowe.

Ancient Arabic Arts