Lamya Khalidi writes: For more than 10 years, I was one of a number of American and Yemeni archaeologists surveying and excavating sites dating to the fabled South Arabian kingdoms and beyond, to prehistoric times. We were members of the Dhamar Survey Project, started by the University of Chicago and named for a historic town in highland Yemen.
The team spent decades exploring the magnificent megalithic monuments and walled towns of a civilization that developed terraced agriculture as early as the third millennium B.C., an ancient tradition that has stunningly etched the entire surface area of the region’s steep mountains like a topographical map. The project collected thousands of artifacts from more than 400 sites, including tools, pottery, statuary and inscriptions in ancient South Arabian languages.
We ensured that all of these artifacts, evidence of ancient cultures that traded at great distances during the Neolithic period and eventually built roads to link the highland towns to major incense trade routes, were deposited in the Dhamar Regional Museum. There, they were restored and studied by foreign teams and Yemeni archaeologists, and put on display.
This museum has just been obliterated from the air. In a matter of minutes, the irreplaceable work of ancient artisans, craftsmen and scribes — not to mention the efforts of Yemeni and foreign researchers who have dedicated years of their lives to studying and preserving this legacy — were pulverized. The museum and its 12,500 artifacts were turned to rubble by Saudi bombs. [Continue reading…]