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Frantsouzoff S. The Hadramitic funerary inscription from the cave-tomb at al-Rukbah (Wādī Ghabr, Inland Hadramawt) and burial ceremonies in ancient Hadramawt // Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, vol.33. Brepols, 2003. С. 251-265.

The cave-tomb of al-Rukbah lies on the left bank of Wādī Ghabr, in front of the village of al-Khuraykhar, in the western part of Inland Hadramawt. In 1983 the Soviet-Yemenite Complex [i.e. multi-disciplinary] Expedition [SOYCE] discovered below one of the sepulchral niches in this tomb, a Hadramitic inscription which is unparalleled among South Arabian funerary texts, not only from the point-of-view of its length (four long lines) but also its content. Only at the end of the campaign of 1984 was this unique epigraphic document photographed, in complete darkness, and registered under the siglum SOYCE 903. Its reading and interpretation present serious difficulties. First of all, its surface is partly covered with lime formations which distort and hide some of the characters. Secondly, the inscription is split in two and the text on either side of the rift has been badly damaged, resulting in several lacunae in all four lines. Finally, many of the words in SOYCE 903, especially the technical terms relating to construction, are rare or unique in Hadramitic and in South Arabian epigraphy in general.

Until his sudden death in October 1989, G.M. Bauer, one of the SOYCE epigraphists, was trying to prepare this funerary text for publication. Unfortunately, however, he was unable to establish the exact reading of all the words, let alone make a full translation and the archaeological description of the cave-tomb of al-Rukbah was published with no comment on the text by him (Amirkhanov 1996: 161, n. 1). Among A.G. Lundin's papers there are indications that he too studied this inscription. He managed to improve several of the readings proposed by his predecessor but had no time to finish the work before his untimely death. The first edition of SOYCE 903 presented below is based on a thorough new examination of all the available photographs in the SOYCE archives. However, a number of notes left by Baur and by Lundin, even those related to unreliable textual restorations, are of considerable interest and it is a great pleasure for the present author to express his deepest gratitude to these scholars…


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ancient Hadramawt
burial ceremonies
funerary inscriptions
Soviet Yemenite Multidisciplinary Expedition

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