ABSTRACT

Inscriptionum Semiticarum aims at a collection of these inscriptions : volume i has been published in four parts (1889, 1892, 1900, 1908), vol. i i as yet only two fasciculi (1911, 1914), vol. i i i is to contain the Minaean and Qatabanian inscriptions. A very handy index of the proper names in the first five fasciculi has been prepared by W. T. Pilter. 1 1 From these inscriptions we obtain a certain knowledge of the Sabaean language, the deities worshipped in Saba’, and general indications of a fairly advanced culture, as well as many historical and geographical details, though the whole field is one in which much work remains yet to be done. The language, closely akin to Abyssinian and in many respects to Akkadian, is best studied in F. Hommel, Süd-Arabische Chrestomathie, Munich, 1893. The inscriptions are written in characters derived from the Phoenician script, and as that script seems to have taken form about 1000 B . C . i t would probably be safe to suggest circ. 700 as the most likely date for the earliest Sabaean inscription : that means that the use of the Phoenician alphabet in Arabia begins about the time of the Assyrian conquests there, and if, as seems probable, those conquests resulted in thrusting back the Arab tribes, and, perhaps, pushing some of them down into South Arabia, i t is just possible that Assyrian aggression may have been responsible for the spread of culture down into Arabia.