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09-Aug-2017 17:47

According to different traditions, the last Jewish king of Arabia was either killed in battle, or committed suicide by riding with his horse into the Red Sea.

For the next century, Himyar was a Christian kingdom that continued to dominate Arabia.

According to Christian chroniclers, around 470 (the date of the Thawban inscription), the Christians of the nearby city of Najran suffered a wave of persecution by the Himyarites.

The French experts suspect that Thawban and his fellow Christians may have been martyred.

The dozen or so engravings had been carved into the soft sandstone of the mountain passes around Bir Hima – a site about 100 kilometers north of the city of Najran, which over millennia has been plastered with thousands of inscriptions by passing travelers and officials.

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Behind the low-key announcement of the find, one can almost sense the mixed feelings of Saudi officials faced with an important discovery for their heritage, which, however, seems to connect the origins of the alphabet used to pen their sacred book to a Christian context, some 150 years before the rise of Islam.

In 2014, the French-Saudi expedition at Bir Hima discovered an inscription recording Yusuf’s passage there after the Najran massacre as he marched north with 12,000 men into the Arabian desert to reclaim the rest of his kingdom.

After that, we lose track of him, but Christian chroniclers recorded that around 525 the Ethiopians caught up with the rebel leader and defeated him.

Collaboration with Israel and an enthusiastic crown prince: Behind the dramatic changes underway in Saudi Arabia The discovery was sensational: the earliest ancient inscriptions using this pre-Islamic stage of Arabic script had been dated at least half a century later, and had all been found in Syria, which had suggested that the alphabet used to write the Koran had been developed far from the birthplace of Islam and its prophet. A few outlets in the French and Arab media tersely summarized the news, hailing the text as the “missing link” between Arabic and the earlier alphabets used previously in the region, such as Nabatean.

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Most of the articles were accompanied by stock photos of archaeological sites or other ancient inscriptions: it is almost impossible to find a picture of the inscription online or a reference to the actual content of the text.” Christian Robin, a French epigraphist and historian who also leads the expedition at Bir Hima, says most scholars now agree that, around 380 CE, the elites of the kingdom of Himyar converted to some form of Judaism.