H C h A 1¿ 0 Ij 0 r historical backing? Where was the kingdom of Sheba? Until this century, the sands of time very probably covered up much of this great kingdom of the past.
Yet it was well known by some of the classical Greek and Roman writers. "In happy Arabia," wrote Dionysius the Greek in A.D. 90, "you can always smell the sweet perfume of marvelous spices, whether it be incense or wonderful myrrh. Its inhabitants have great flocks of sheep in the meadows, and birds fly in from distant isles bringing leaves of pure cinnamon."
Another Greek historian, Diodorus (100 B.C.), writes: "These people surpass in riches and luxuries not only their Arab neighbors, but also the rest of the world. They drink out of cups made of gold and silver... The Sabeans enjoy this luxury because they are convinced that riches which come from the earth are the favor of the gods and should be shown to others."
The Roman Emperor Augustus actually sent an army of 10,000 men to southern Arabia to plunder this wealth. But the withering desert and frequent plagues decimated the army before they could arrive in the capital. They never fulfilled their mission.
Scholars generally agree that the kingdom of Sheba is located in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, now called Yemen. The area is quite isolated and desolate now, but this has not always been the case. "The most prominent of the Arab states ... during the first half of the 1st millennium B.C.," comments The New Bible Dictionary, "Sheba was ruled by mukarribs, priest-kings, who supervised both the political affairs and the polytheistic worship of the sun, moon and star gods. Explorations [in 1950-1953] ... found some outstanding examples of Sabean art and architecture, especially the temple of the moon-god at Marib, the capital, which dates from the 7th century B.C. ..." (p. 1087).
Until this century, this area of Yemen was largely off-limits to archaeologists. Now, up to 4,000 inscriptions of this ancient kingdom have come to light, confirming that one of the four nations in the area was called Sheba and that the population of at least one of its cities totaled a million.
This part of the world was not always
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