ICC Note: A civil war which began in 2015 has left Yemen’s historical monuments, many of which are Christian, in peril. These monuments show how Christianity was once a dominant feature of the Arabian Peninsula, contrary to the narratives put forth by the Islamic governments in the region. A few thousand Christians live in Yemen, according to the Open Doors Watch List. While the system of governance remains fluid because of the war, the country is strictly Islamic and anyone who openly practices Christianity does so at great personal risk.
08/14/2018 Yemen (Fox) – After years of internal conflict and ISIS insurgency across Iraq and Syria destroyed much of what was left of the Middle East’s pre-Islamic history, experts now fear the protracted civil war in neighboring Yemen will quietly erase its own rich biblical roots.
“The historical sites are of great importance to Yemen and are part of Yemeni history and identity,” Iris Gerlach, Head of the Sana’a Branch at the German Archaeological Institute Orient Department, told Fox News. “Ultimately, this would be comparable to the destruction of the White House or the Statue of Liberty for Americans. The intentional destruction as well as war-related collateral damage is a crime on the world cultural heritage. As long as the war is going on, more monuments will be destroyed.”
As a crib to some of the world’s oldest civilizations, Yemen played an imperative role in the accession of empires and economies, beginning around 1000 BC. Yet the assault on its antiquity in recent times has been fierce.
And the threat of even more damage to the country’s trove of treasures looms large – perhaps most poignantly in the site considered to have once housed the mysterious and powerful Queen of Sheba (Bilquis in Arabic), located just 30 miles east of the small Yemen city of Marib.
There is a sense violence could ignite at any moment.
“The Queen of Sheba is known from the Old Testament – I Kings 10 and 2 Chronicles 9. According to these accounts, she decided to visit King Solomon after hearing his wisdom. She tested him with hard questions and brought him gifts of spices, gold and precious stones loaded on camels,” explained John Wineland, professor of history and archaeology at Southeastern University. “These gifts reflect the main source of wealth for Sheba, also known as Saba, which was an overland caravan trade connecting India, Arabia and East Africa.”
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