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The foundation “Het Oosters Instituut” holds one of three major collections of inscribed wooden sticks from Ancient South Arabia. These documents contain the everyday correspondence of the Sabaeans and the Minaeans, peoples belonging to the so-called Ancient South Arabian civilization that existed from the early 1st millennium BC up to the 6th century CE in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. This documentation is not only essential for the social, economic, and religious history of pre-Islamic Arabia, but also for the linguistic reconstruction of the Ancient South Arabian languages, and for Semitic language history in general. The corpus comprises text genres such as letters, legal contracts and business accounts, oracular records, and writing exercises.
The Leiden collection includes 340 texts and fragments in either Sabaic or Minaic language, plus 44 anepigraphs (the majority of which are inscribed with modern forgery). In fact the first to be systematically studied, this corpus was analyzed by Abraham J. Drewes and Jacques Ryckmans from 1994 until their deaths in 2005 and 2007, respectively. The present book is basically the result of their intensive collaborative work. It presents a catalog of the entire collection, and transliterations of all 340 texts (plus three additional documents from the Leiden University Library), carefully adapted to the current state of research by Peter Stein. With detailed photographs illustrating approximately half of the texts, the volume provides a solid basis for further research in this particular field of Semitic epigraphy.
The volume is in French.