Qataban and Sheba: Exploring the Ancient Kingdoms on the Biblical Spice Routes of Arabia

By Wendell Phillips | Go to book overview

20
TEMPLE OF VENUS

*

We had not worked long at the temple site that second season before confirming our view that here lay the largest building of ancient Timna. It was certainly the first really monumental building to be excavated in all South Arabia, for we dug in an area 160 feet long by 135 feet wide without yet reaching the end of what was a complex of buildings and courts making up the Temple of Athtar, the Arabian equivalent of our Venus.

Dramatic--and back-breaking--signs of the violence of the conflagration which doomed the ancient city were found in the center of a huge court of the temple complex. Here the heat of the fire had fused together a huge mass of rocks and debris that yielded only to sledge hammers, which finally broke up the mass sufficiently for the pieces to be hauled away by the winches on our powerful trucks. With these out of the way, the remaining sand covering the large court was carried off, revealing a spacious area paved with polished pink marble slabs. Stairways of stone leading up on all sides showed that the court had been a slightly sunken square lying in front of the temple proper, on the east. Here a marble staircase about twenty-one feet wide made an imposing entrance to the chief building. Its steps were worn deeply at the edges by the feet of the thousands upon thousands of worshippers who had in times past marched up into the temple for religious services.

The stone walls around the court showed the same niched and

-186-

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Qataban and Sheba: Exploring the Ancient Kingdoms on the Biblical Spice Routes of Arabia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Author's Preface vii
  • Field Staff - American Foundation Arabian Expeditions xi
  • Contents xiii
  • 1 - Turn Backward, Turn Backward 3
  • 2 - Search for a Site 8
  • 3 - The Essence of Mukalla 16
  • 4 - Through the Hadhramaut 23
  • 5 - The Dig 40
  • 6 - Mountains and Clouds Of Sand 53
  • 7 - "Weakness of the Bones" 65
  • 8 - Bal Harith Tribesmen 76
  • 9 - The Lions of Timna 89
  • 10 - The Queen of Sheba 103
  • 11 - Miriam and the Gold Necklace 109
  • 12 - Professor Albright 120
  • 13 - Salaams to the President 125
  • 14 - Mount Sinai 133
  • 15 - Eileen 146
  • 16 - The Scaifes 154
  • 17 - Cities of the Dead 163
  • 18- Lady Bar'At 171
  • 19- Back to 1000 B.C. 180
  • 20 - Temple of Venus 186
  • 21 - Into Forbidden Yemen 194
  • 22 - Audience with the Imam 203
  • 23 - Across Unexplored Land 210
  • 24 - The Queen's City 218
  • 25 - Farewell to Beihan 231
  • 26 - Qataban Revealed 243
  • 27 - Troubles in Marib 248
  • 28 - Confusion Compounded 262
  • 29- Danger at Sheba 273
  • 30 - Escape! 301
  • 31 - Charges And Countercharges 321
  • 32 - Unknown Oman 329
  • Afterword Birth Pains of An Expedition 341
  • Substantial Contributors - American Foundation for the Study of Man 351
  • Index 355
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