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Frantsouzoff S. A Minaic inscription on the pedestal of an ibex figurine from the British Museum // Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, vol.36. Brepols, 2006. С. 69-77.


Summary

Among the unpublished inscriptions of ancient Yemen kept in the collection of the British Museum a short text engraved on the pedestal of an ibex figurine cut in limestone proves to be of considerable value for the study of South Arabian religion and lexicography.

The use of the verb s'brrt as well as the lack of mlmation in the noun clb testify that the language of this text is Minaic. However, it contains a reference to the oath of the goddess Athīrat ('TRT) whose name is mentioned rather seldom in Minaic inscriptions (only in those among them which originate in Nashshan), but frequently occurs in Qatabanic epigraphic tradition.

The expression ‘TRT/’b Athīrat of ‘ilb-tree, which is interpreted as the first allusion to the worship of sacred trees in ancient South Arabia, represents a close parallel to the cult of the Canaanite goddess Asherah described in the Bible.

From the lexicographical point of view, the importance of this text is connected with a new interpretation of s'brr(t) usually attested in syndetic subordinate clauses after krb (pl. ‘krb) offering and kbwdt (pi.) taxes, duties. Its previous translations to offer, to pay implied the identification of the subject in those clauses with a worshipper of a deity. The context b-krb/s'brrt demonstrates that in fact this verb means to accept, approve and describes a divine action, since this verbal form (3rd pers., feminine, perfect) obviously relates to Athīrat and not to her devotee who is a man.

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Keywords


ancient Yemen
Asherah
Athīrat
the British Museum
cult of sacred trees
ibex figurine
Minaic inscriptions
South Arabian antiquities

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