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Aug 24, 2018 12 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Last week, we looked at ancient Arabian pilgrimages and sacrifice in the #Safaitic inscriptions. If you missed that, see this thread: . Now, let's have a glance at pilgrimages in the ancient Ḥigāz, represented by the Dadānitic inscriptions.
Dadān was the ancient name of the oasis of al-Ula, in NW Ḥigāz. It is mentioned in cuneiform sources and the Bible, and was a center for the kings of Liḥyān, before it was eventually annexed by the Nabataeans. Pic: saminaik.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/alula_…
The oasis had its own script and language, Dadānitic. Its primary deity was called ḏġbt. The etymology of the name is uncertain. ḏ = ḏū 'master'. Some say ġbt = Arabic ġābat- 'oasis'; others have taken it as ġēbat 'unseen', = 'master of the unseen'. Insc: Al-Ḫuraybah 12.
The inscriptions record many religious rituals involving ḏġbt. His sanctuary, it seems, located nearby, to which the faithful <ḥaggag> 'made pilgrimages'. They recorded their pilgrimages on rock for public display. Unfortunately, most of these texts are badly damaged
E.g. AH 221 (selection): Maʿnān of the family of Yaʿfān and Rb made a pilgrimage and an offering ... four ... the high place at the sanctuary...
1: ---- ḏ mnʿn/ʿ----h 2: ---- ʾl/ḏ yfʿn/w 3: ----rb/ḥggw/w
4: ----r/w ʾġnmw/l 5: ---- tn/ʾrbʿ/ʾ 6: ---- h- nq/b- h- mṣ– 7: [d]
AH 129: Pilgrimages were performed for the sake of a single deity, ḏġbt.
ʿbdlwy, the oracle and Sṭ (?) of ḏʿmn performed the pilgrimage for the sake of ḏġbt at Khl, perhaps the ancient name of this area. <1:ʿbdlwy 2: h- q{s¹}m/w s¹ṭ 3: ḏʿmn/ḥggw[/][l-] 4: ḏġbt/b- khl>
Pilgrimages could be performed for others, similar to the proxy Ḥajj today. AH 206: 'she performed the pilgrimage at Khl on their behalf so may he (the deity) grant them and their offspring favor' <ḥgt ʿl-hm b-khl f-rd-hm w ʾḫrt-hm>
The pilgrimage involved several rituals, but the Dadanitic language remains in some ways poorly understood. In Al-Udhayb 75, two men first offer(?) <ʾaggaw> a ẓnfss and then <ḥggw ḏġbt b- khl> 'make the pilgrimage at Khl for ḏġbt'. Is ẓnfss a kind of sacrifice? An object?
Men and women performed pilgrimages and they could last for several days. AH 217: wʾl and s²nʾh{ʾ}ktb and his mother Bd made a pilgrimage for the sake of Ḫrg (?) lasting two days at the sanctuary. The meaning of Ḫrg is unclear -- some have suggested it is the name of a god.
Despite these records, we do not know when or why the faithful made pilgrimages to Khl or from how far they came. These texts likely date to latter 1/2 of the 1st millen. BCE. The god ḏġbt disappears after the Nabataean takeover, and no memory survives in Islamic-period sources.
For everything you want to know about Dadanitic and its writing culture, stay tuned for @Folk_Kootstra's masterful dissertation on the subject. Saudi archaeologists continue to work at the site of Dadān and their results will certainly help us understand these text better.
Next week, we will continue our journey south to look at pilgrimages in Ancient South Arabia.
Biblio: [AH] Abū ʾl-Ḥasan, Ḥ.ʿA.D. Nuqūš liḥyānīyah min minṭaqat al-ʿulā. (Dirāsah taḥlīliyyah muqāranah). al-Riyāḍ: Wizārat al-maʿārif, 2002. Pages: 99–103. <pls forgive ne typos>

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More from @Safaitic

Oct 6, 2018
"Life is worthless", write Diomedes the Lyrist and Abchoros the barber in a Greek inscription found far out in the desert of eastern Jordan (at Jathum). The two went out into the desert with a Roman military unit, stationed at a place called Σιο(α) Αβγαρ 'the cairn of Abgar'.
Coming from the bright lights of the Decapolis, the Basalt desert must have seemed like the end of the world. This text comes to mind as I complete edits on 2 pprs on new Greek-Safaitic inscriptions from Jordan. Teaser: we have a small new example of Old Arabic in Greek letters!
The editio princeps of the cited inscription can be found here: A Greek Inscription at Jathum in Transjordan. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research No. 132 (Dec., 1953), pp. 34-41 (8 pages). Here is Mowry's translation of the entire text.
Read 4 tweets
Oct 5, 2018
< Part 1 – the Fals, of Tweet Mini-Series: The archaeology of the Book of Idols> Let us begin with the more obscure deities. The idol called al-Fals was associated with the well-known N. Arabian tribe of Ṭayyiʾ. Their territory was located near 2 mountains, Agaʾ and Salmā.
According to al-Kalbi, al-Fals was a red rock in the shape of a man located on the black mountain of Agaʾ. Its sanctuary offered immunity to men and beasts. What do we learn about Al-Fals from the epigraphic record? answering-islam.org/Books/Al-Kalbi…
Tribespeople of Ṭayyiʾ left few inscriptions. Only one text in Safaitic was clearly composed by a man of Ṭayyiʾ. BS 767 is by a man named Wāʾil son of Wammām, who calls himself haṭ-ṭāʾiyy ‘the Tayyite’. The text does not contain an invocation to a deity.
Read 19 tweets
Oct 5, 2018
<Tweet Mini-Series: The archaeology of the Book of Idols-Introduction>: Hisham ibn al-Kalbi was an Arab antiquarian born in Kufa (737–819 CE), interested in folklore re: the ancient Arabs, genealogies, and pre-Islamic Arabian religion. Pic: Nabataea.net
His work kitāb al-Aṣnām ‘the book of idols’ is one of the earliest Islamic-period sources on pre-Islamic Arabian religion. Relying on folklore and quotations from poetry, Ibn Al-Kalbi lists the gods of the ancient Arabs and associated rites.
While some of these gods, such as Allāt, are known from the Qur’ān and other ancient sources, others are far more obscure, such as Yaʾbūb and Nuhm. You can read the English translation of this book here: answering-islam.org/Books/Al-Kalbi/
Read 6 tweets
Oct 1, 2018
On the topic of inscriptions of mourning, I've reached the S's and here is one of the saddest Safaitic inscriptions I know. It is by a man mourning the senseless murder of his brother by Nabataeans while he was working as a hired man, pasturing the animals of two great tribes.
I translate the text as follows:
'he grieved for his brother Nūr whom the Nabataeans killed while pasturing the livestock of ʿwḏ and Ḍf so, O Allat of Mʿmn and goddess of Deṯan and Gaddoʿawīḏ and Gaddoḍayf...
...may he have vengeance against him who has committed this act, and he was continuously distraught with a broken heart for his brother, his beloved forever'. The Old Arabic reads as follows:
Read 4 tweets
Sep 30, 2018
#Safaitic dictionary edit updates. At the N's, and this text it worth tweeting: Author of MAHB 2 states: wagada ʾaṯra ʾaśyāʿ-oh fa-naganna 'he found the traces of his companions and went mad (from grief)'. #Safaitic naganna <ngn> is the equivalent of #Levantine inžann...
The sense is of course to be Jinn possessed. There is no direct evidence for a belief in #Jinn among the pre-Islamic nomads, but this word could suggests that insanity was associated with being possessed by the supernatural creatures. There's more: related to this lemma is ...
the word <ʾtgnn> =ʾatgannana, is attested in an identical context: BS 880: wagada ʾaṯra ʾaśyāʿ-oh fa-ʾatgannana 'he found the traces of his companions and went mad (from grief)', this one similar to Classical Arabic taǧannana, same meaning.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 27, 2018
Hikma History asks whether there is historical evidence for #Mecca in the 6th CE or earlier. A fantastic question. Outside historical sources don't seem to mention the town. @iandavidmorris examines this material masterfully in this blog: iandavidmorris.com/mecca-before-i…
But what about pre-Islamic Arabian sources? Do they give evidence for Mecca as a pilgrimage center? Most pre-Islamic texts from central Arabia are short, undated inscriptions containing personal names and enigmatic phrases. No toponyms are attested in these and therefore,..
They are not very useful for answering our question. The long and detailed texts from Ancient Yemen, however, do not mention any place called Mecca. Although numerous pilgrimage sites are attested, they all seem to be located in South Arabia.
Read 11 tweets

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