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The Throne of Queen Bilquis: Ancient History Comes Alive

National Yemen

By Tamjid Alkohali

At the throne of Queen Bilquis, or Barran Temple as some like to call it, people feel that an ancient history is alive. It’s a site for learning about the history of Queen Bilquis, the Queen of Sheba who is mentioned in the Holy Quran and the Bible.

The researchers disagree about the homeland of Queen Bilquis. Some claim that she was Egyptian, Ethiopian, or Syrian. However, archaeological research has proven her presence in Yemen, where archeologists found statues of women in the Barran Temple.

The temple is located in the city of Marib, 170 km east of Sana’a. Marib is mentioned in holy books as the capital of the kingdom of Saba, the birthplace of a 3,000-year-old civilization that left behind significant ancient ruins. The most famous of these is the throne of Queen Bilquis.

Located on the western side of the Safer – Marib road, the Barran Temple was renowned for its five magnificent columns which are more than twelve meters high. In the years 1988, new archaeological excavations revealed an equally impressive sixth column hidden under the sand.

The temple is divided into several architectural units, including the ‘courtyard’ along with its annexes, and the great brick fence and its extensions.

Behind the six columns there is a broad platform, which historians believe was the main location for the throne of Queen Bilquis.

The temple has a unique harmony where in the majestic main entrance and the courtyard unite together to face off against a steep staircase with a magnificent display of architectural virtuosity that hints at the greatness of its builders.

In 2000, the German Institute of Archaeology began a huge renovation project on the temple that was completed in 2007.

Professor of History and Civilization at Sana’a University, Abdullah Abu al-Ghaith, said that the temple is considered the largest temple in Yemen before Islam, and it was a temple for worshipping the moon, the main god of the Sabaeans.

“Despite the temple being looted many times since the 4th century AD after Yemenis embraced monotheistic religion, its discoveries confirm the huge size of the temple, and it should be 8th place among the Seven Wonders of the World,” he said.

According to some researchers, the walls of the temple were covered by bronze plates that contained writings and diverse motifs. However, these writings were removed and only the bronze nails on the walls remain.

Inside the temple, one can find the gifts of visitors that were given to God such as statues and censers, besides a full archive of all events experienced by the Sabaean state since the first millennium B.C., which made researchers realize that the temple was also a documentation center for the Sabean state.

Unfortunately, the famous historical temple is currently suffering from negligence and looting. The temple has become abandoned, especially with the decline of the tourist traffic in Marib and Yemen in general as a result of insecurity.