SABAEAN TABLET - ($25 US)
Bronze tablet, cold cast, 70 x 70 mm (2,75") with museum display stand & parchment description
A small Sabaean inscription from Melazo, a pre-Aksumite site near Aksum in Ethiopia, dating from the 5th century B.C.
Carved in the elegant and ancient alphabetic script of the Sabaeans, the tablet is a short dedication which refers to Marib, ancient capitol of the South Arabian kingdom of Saba in Yemen, the original home of the Queen of Sheeba. The third line of text refers to the Sabaean lunar god Ilumquh, "LMQH," whose disk and crescent symbol was frequently used on Aksumite monuments.
According to legend, the Ark of the Covenant containing the remnants of the 10 commandments of Moses was brought to Aksum when Solomon's son Menelik and the Queen of Sheeba escaped to Ethiopia during the Persian invasion.
The inscription demonstrates a technique called boustrophodon, roughly translated as "plowing the field." The lines of text alternate direction, from right to left, left to right and so on, much like a farmer plowing a field back and forth. Most of the alphabet characters are directional, so one can see which direction to read a line by the direction of the letters.
The word Marib consists of the letters "MRYB" reading from left to right, while the word Ilumquh is formed of the letters "LMQH" from right to left. It is notable that the letter "M" appears in both words, reading in both directions. This same boustrophodon writing technique is also seen in early Phoenician, archaic Greek texts and Viking Runes.
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