Archaeology Odyssey 4:6, November/December 2001

Excavating the Land of Sheba

Archaeology reveals the kingdoms of ancient Yemen

By T. J. Wilkinson

To most people, Yemen is an obscure part of southwest Arabia that appears to have escaped major currents of history. Yemen’s greatest claim to fame is that it is known as the birthplace of the queen of Sheba and that it was once the center of a series of fabulous kingdoms that developed along the incense route.

According to the Bible, the queen of Sheba, having heard of King Solomon (who lived, according to the biblical chronology, in the mid-tenth century B.C.), came to Jerusalem bearing enormous quantities of gold, precious gems and spices, which she presented to the king only after testing his vaunted wisdom and finding it true. He, of course, reciprocated—satisfying “every desire that [the queen of Sheba] expressed” (1 Kings 10; 2 Chronicles 9)—and she departed for her own land.

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