Sabina Antonini de Maigret
2017 Grant Recipient
The Italian Archaeological Mission in Yemen. Excavations at Barāqish/Yathill: The Temple of ʿAthtar dhu-Qabḍ and Extramural Areas
Since 1984, Dr. Sabina Antonini de Maigret has participated in numerous archaeological excavations and surveys in Yemen with the Italian Archaeological Mission. Dr. Antonini de Maigret has actively pursued her research interests at important archaeological sites, including Yalâ, Tamnaʿ, Barâqish and Ghaymân. She obtained a BA in Classical Archaeology at the University of Perugia and a PhD in Archaeology and Art History of the Near East at the University of Naples "L'Orientale", where she taught a series of courses on South Arabian Antiquities. Dr. Antonini de Maigret is the author of a numerous monographs and articles on South Arabian Archaeology and Art History and is currently Director of the Italian Mission in Yemen.
Ancient Yathill, known today as Barâqish (16° 01’ 06” N - 44° 48’ 16” E) in the Yemeni Jawf, was the second major city in the Kingdom of Ma‛în after the capital Qarnâw. Yathill’s Golden Age began in the 7th – 6th century BC, but its origins may go back as far as the 12th – 10th century BC. Yathill was situated along the frankincense Caravan route linking ports on the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Indeed, the Romans called the best incense on the market minaeum from the name of the Kingdom (Pliny the Elder, NH, XII, 54). Yathill is also mentioned by Strabo among the places conquered by Augustus’s General Aelius Gallus during his expedition in Arabia Felix (26-25 BC). The city walls, originally of an average height of 14 metres, contained 56 towers. Around 280 inscriptions have been found carved on the city walls blocks. After more than a millenium of neglect, Barâqish was reoccupied in the late 12th century by the Zaydi community, led by Imam al-Mansur ibn Hamza, and continuously inhabited until the 18th century. During a series of archaeological campaigns, the Italian Archaeological Mission excavated and restored both a Temple dedicated to Nakrah, the City’s Patron God, and a Temple dedicated to the God ʿAthtar dhu-Qabd, the main divinity of the Minaeans.
The lead researcher for the Shelby White and Leon Levy Program project is Dr. Sabina Antonini de Maigret, archaeologist and historian of South Arabian Art and Director of the Italian Archaelogical Mission in Yemen since 2011. She participated in all archaeological campaigns for the excavation in Barâqish/Yathill and surveys in the nearby localities of Darb as-Sabî and Al-Manassa, in the Wâdî ash-Shaqab (1986-1987, 1989-1990, 2003-2007). Dr. Antonini de Maigret will be working with an Italian-French team, coordinating the process of digitization of the photographic material and excavation drawings related to Barâqish. She will coordinate the contributions of the researchers, oversee the development of the database and the consequent electronic publication of the material, as well as the production and publication of the monograph.