Sunday, January 20, 2008

More on the Destruction/Theft of Tombs at Ibb

This is a follow-up to a story I posted on January 17, 2008. In that story, one of the copper coffins was referred to as a "king's." However, the original story (copied below) indicates that THREE WOMEN were found in the Ibb tomb, along with gold artifacts, and that it may have been a "queen's" tomb. Why were the guards posted by the Yemeni government ordered away shortly after they were posted? Ancient queen’s tomb discovered in Ibb Posted in: Front Page Written By: Mohammed al-Kibsi Article Date: Jan 19, 2008 - 4:32:04 AM Three tombs believed to date back to the Hemiriate dynasty have been discovered in the al-Usaibyah area of the al-Sadda district of Ibb last week. The tombs housed three women, one of them believed to be a queen. Local sources from al-Sadda confirmed that golden jewels were found in the tomb, believed to be for a queen or a princess. Other jewels were found in the other two tombs. In addition, a bronze spear was found in a second tomb and a 70 centimeter sword in a third tomb. The three tombs were found in a rocky room around five meters deep and about 3 meters wide. The room contained large pieces of alabaster, each piece around 150 cubic centimeters. The room also contained a 20 centimeter bronze belt. The al-Usaibyah area is near the Raidan Palace, not far from the ancient city of Dhafar, the capital of the Saba and Tho Raydan kingdoms. Dr. Abdullah Ba-Wazir, head of the General Authority of Antiquities and Museums, said that the discovery in al-Ausaibyah came about after two tribes began fighting about the discovery the tombs. When local authorities intervened to resolve the conflict between the two tribes, they discovered the tomb. Ba-Wazir revealed to the 26 September newspaper that an archeological team from Ibb governorate was sent to the area together with another team from Sana’a. He said that they found a royal tomb, designed in a rare architectural style. Found inside the tomb was a bronze coffin containing the remains of a woman believed to be of a high political status. Ba-Wazir explained that the site is a royal grave built in an artistic style indicating that the grave is of an important political person, presumably a woman. It may belong to the Himiriat period. Authorities also sent a specialized archaeological team in addition to the team from Ibb. They are to do rescue excavations at the site at which the bronze coffin was found. He explained that the team treated the discovery site with great caution due to bad conditions such as high humidity and moisture making it difficult to preserve the coffin. Ba-Wazir confirmed that the team will document all the antiques and other items discovered at the site. The coffin will be sent to the Ibb city museum for further preliminary preservation. Some scientific archaeological institutes will be contacted so their experts can inspect and determine the chronological age of the decaying body. The authority manager explained that one of the duties of their team is to evaluate the discovery site in order to know if the site extends further in the area or whether it is isolated. He added that they will know more when they receive the report within the next two days. Ba-Wazir warned people in the area not to do any diggings because of their negative effects on the current excavations by the authority teams. He called for them to cooperate with local authorities and security forces for the good of the public. Cooperation will result in saving the cultural heritage of this historical area and provide a suitable atmosphere for the excavation. The mention of a spear and a sword found in two of the tombs points to those tombs possibly being for warrior women - there is an ancient tradition of warrior women in both pre-and Islamic countries in the Arabian peninsula, but that history is not talked about much these days, as you can imagine, darlings! The story above mentions "two tribes began fighting about the discovery the tombs. When local authorities intervened to resolve the conflict between the two tribes, they discovered the tomb." It's amazing to me that there was anything left for the archaeologists to discover, that the tombs had not already been stripped bare by members of these "tribes" and put out into the illegal antiquities market - or the gold artifacts perhaps melted down. This entire story is just so bizarre. What really happened?

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