diversity of the natural environment: plains, mountains and deserts may be
common in many countries, but it is unique in Yemen. Yemen's highlands are
an extension of a chain of the Trans-Arabian Peninsula's high mountains
which cut across, in parallel, from the Red Sea in the west to the Arabian
desert, The Empty Quarter, in the east, the shape of which resembles the
letter "L". Because of the height of this mountain chain, which
is the highest in the Arabian Peninsula, rain clouds, carried by the
seasonal winds from the Indian Ocean during the spring and summer, causes
rainfall, which differs greatly from 1he rest of the area.
rains are not normally heavy, but when it pours, torrents flow across a
number of valleys. Some goes east to the desert and some west to the Red
Sea, or south to the waters of the Arabian Sea. Under these circumstances
and climate, people of the Stone Age lived here tens of thousands of'
years ago experiencing the various stages of that period. There are many
relics dating hack to this era are now in exhibit at the National Museum
in Sana'a. The facade of caves show distinct traces of the Hunter
Gatherers Society. While on top of the eastern mountain chain, 2000*2300m
above sea level, more sophisticated societies lived during the Bronze
attempt at dam construction can be traced back to the bronze age. The
people, after this failure, emigrated down-stream to the valleys in the
East of Yemen, and it is here where civilization in this part of the world
began to flourish. Yemeni civilization didn't flourish on the hanks of
rivers, as in many other ancient civilizations, but in the valleys. The
Sheba dynasty flourished in the valleys of Dhanah and Ma'een in the Jouf
Valley to the north of Sheba. Similarly, other dynasties such as Qataban
in the Baihan Valley, Hadharmout in the valley of Armah and Osan in the
valley of Markhah,
is the oldest of the Yemeni civilizations. Historians consider the start
of the Sabean Dynasty as the beginning of historical accounts for Yemen's
ancient states. This historical period began in 715BC, the year when
Yathea'a Amirbayn, one of the oldest Macarabi, King of Sheba, paid
protection money to Serjoun, the King of Assyria, as told by the Assyrian
first line of Sabean Macarabis and kings existed around the same time as
the kings of Ma'een. The only time Ma'een was defeated was by Sheba, its
neighbor. The sovereignty of Sheba also extended to cover the ancient
states of Osan, Qataban and Hadramout. Qataban and Hadramout had sided
with Sheba against the State of Osan.
of which Yemeni dynasty was the oldest, strongest or reigned longest"
the most recent archaeological researches state that the Iron Age extended
from 1200BC until 332BC. Thus, the beginnings of the flourishing history
of Southern Arabia civilizations was 1st century BC. The people lived by
means of agriculture and it was around this time that dams and canals were
constructed to irrigate the land to provide food and camels domesticated
to help with the work load. The development of political systems was
similar in each dynasty. Their location, between 1ndia and Africa, on one
side, and between Egypt and Syria on the other, generated a good income
from the taxes paid for the protection of the camel caravans transporting
incense from Hadhramout and Dhofar (Oman) in the East. These caravans were
also used to carry other goods, whatever would fetch a good price and was
light enough for the camels to carry, which arrived into Yemen at the port
of Qana on thc Arabian Sea. From there they would be transported through
the cities and stations of Hadhramout, Qataban, Sabean and the Ma'een
Dynasties on to the port of Gaza on the Mediterranean coast. Cities flourished and the architectural style developed. The temples of the
Astrological Triangle' were
along with the dams and canals which surrounded the capital cities of
Marib, Ma'een, Tamna'a and Shabwa.
capitals of the civilizations of southern Arabia had strong contact with
ancient Eastern civilizations. Before the birth of Christ, a campaign by a
Roman Commander failed in an attempt to take control of' the incense road.
However, Hippalos, a Greek sailor, had discovered the closely guarded
secret of the ancient Yemenis: the monsoon winds, which gust eastward to
India during the summer and to the west towards Africa during the winter
and made transportation by sea so very difficult. The discovery by the
Greeks on how to use the monsoon winds to their advantage, was followed by
a ban, introduced by the Christian Church, on the use of incense which
resulted in the incense road losing its importance. The Great Dam also
collapsed and the Sheba Dynasty dispersed to the hills. This was evident
by the dams, cities, palaces and temples which sprang up in Sama'i, Sana'a
and Dhafar, and also on the trade road across the plateau by way of the
sand dunes, however, preserved the outer crust of the ancient Yemeni
civilization in Eastern Yemen, in a way similar to the process of
preserving flowers pressed within the pages of a book, and as a result,
archeologists have been able to trace the history of ancient Sheba.
Himyarite Dynasty followed with its rulers, the Kings of Sheba, Dhu
Raidan, Hadramout, Yamant and their tribes on the high plateau and coastal region,
until the Abyssinian (Ethiopians), occupied Yemen in the year 525AD. The
Abyssinians ruled for fifty years until 575AD. That year was known as the
Year of the Elephant', because Abraha used them in his failed campaign to
occupy the Qa'ba, Islam's most holiest of shrines. Saif Ibn Dhi Yazan
expelled the Abyssinians from Yemen with the help of the Persian Empire,
but only to place Yemen under the direct influence of Persian Empire. This
continued until the people of Yemen heard the Islamic call. They
voluntarily adopted Islam as their new religion; and Yemeni battalions
were at the vanguard of the Islamic armies. Yemenis played leading roles
in the building of the Islamic state, which stretched from China in the
east to Andalusia to the west.
came under the direct administration of the Islamic state during the rule
of the Caliphs in Madina, continuing through the Ommiad Dynasty in
Damascus and the Abbasid Dynasty in Baghdad. However, on the decline of
Islamic state in Baghdad, several dynasties ruled Yemen starting from the
9th century AD. At various stages in the history of Yemen there was more
than one dynasty in existence, fighting each other at times and peacefully
co-existing at other times. Some of them had formally followed either the
Caliphate of Baghdad or the Caliphate of Cairo. The direct rule of some of
these states included the largest parts of Yemen. Among these states were:
State, the capital of which was Zabid, 819 * 1018AD.
State in Shibam kawkaban, 861* 956AD.
Imamate State in Sa'da, 892*1962AD.
co-existed with all other states for more than one thousand years. Its
influence stretched from Sana'a to Najran, diminishing to include only the
north-eastern regions. The Zaydi Imamate ruled most parts of greater Yemen
at one period in history.
State in Jibla, 1047 - 1138AD.
State in Taiz, 1174 – 1229AD.
State in Taiz, 1229 – 1454AD.
State in Mikrana Rada'a', 1446 – 1517AD.
the fact that these states were independent from the central states, they
were in touch with what was going on in the main cities. Several Yemeni
cities flourished during the lslamic era on the roads of trade and
pilgrimage across the plateau and coastal plains. They were influenced by
the Islamic civilization which also prevailed at other Arab and Islamic
cities. Students and scholars came to the centers from both inside and
outside Yemen. The most famous cities of the period were Zabid, Sana'a,
Sa'da, Tarim, Jibla and Dhamar.
also fell under the influence of Islamic states such as the Mamelukes and
the Ottomans in the wake of the Portuguese invasion of the coasts in the
early 16th century AD.
Turkish Ottomans ruled Yemen during two periods. The first began in 1535
and continued until 1638, while the second was from 1872 until the end of
the 1st World War in l918. The British occupied the southern part of Yemen
the period of conflict over the borders between the Ottomans in the
northern part of Yemen and the British in the south, border posts were
installed between the South and North of Yemen for the first time in its
history. After that, Yemen suffered from terrible isolation imposed by a
clerical utilitarian rule in the North and a humiliating colonial hegemony
in the South.
this period, poverty, ignorance, injustice and a series of deadly diseases
prevailed in the country. The circle
of isolation was not broken until the Eternal Revolution of the 26th
September against the Imamate rule and the Revolution of the 14th October
1962, and the South achieved independence from Britain in 1967.
1962 North Yemen became known as the Yemen Arab Republic, with its capital
in 'Sana'a, while the South of Yemen became known as the People's
Democratic Republic of Yemen with its capital in Aden. Twenty years after
the British evacuation on 30th November l967, the constitution of the
existing Republic of Yemen was signed on 30th November, 1987. This event
crowned pro- longed efforts to unify the country. On 22nd May 1990, there
was great news, Yemen became united and was named the Republic of Yemen.
The historic city of Sana'a was named the capital of the unified Yemen,
and a new era in Yemen's history began.