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Yemen: Marib

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Marib | Yemen | Asia

[Visited: May 2004]

The day we drove down to the wadi in which Marib lies, was a day of strong winds, and therefore inevitably also a day of hot, sandy air. When we finally arrived near Marib, it was as if a dense fog had descended on the landscape, obscuring almost everything with a shower of sand. It was a pity because we could have had much better views, but at the same time it also added to our experience of the area and our realization that Marib in fact lies on the border of the desert.

Picture of Marib (Yemen): Tree in the desert near Marib

Once the capital of the kingdom of Saba, Marib declined together with the kingdom and has for centuries been the village it is still now. Since it was the base for Egyptian forces in a war in the 1960s, old Marib was largely destroyed although some people still live in it. New Marib was built and the old part, a few kilometres away, was largely neglected. The ruins of the temple of the Moon and the Sun are interesting to see, although they are not accessible to visitors, and surprisingly little maintenance is done on the work of excavators. You can only have a look from outside a barbed wire fence. In a way, this also adds to the very mystique of the ruins.

Picture of Marib (Yemen): Old Marib dam: only the sluices remain

Another impressive sight is the remains of the famous dam of Marib. Built in the 6th century BCE, it ran from one side of the wadi to the other, effectively closing it off and providing water not only for consumption, but also for irrigation. It therefore enabled the kingdom to develop agriculture in the desert and apparently sustained the population for more than 1000 years. Now, it is still possible to see the remains on both sides of the wadi, as well as original inscriptions in its walls.

Picture of Marib (Yemen): Marib desert: lone tree in the desert
Picture of Marib (Yemen): Temple of the Sun near Marib
Picture of Marib (Yemen): Old Marib dam: inscriptions in the southern sluices
Picture of Marib (Yemen): Landscape near Marib: volcanic desert
Picture of Marib (Yemen): Sandstorm over the green fields of Marib
Picture of Marib (Yemen): Old Marib: destroyed house
Picture of Marib (Yemen): Old Marib dam: Northern sluices
Picture of Marib (Yemen): New Marib dam: looking down into the valley
Picture of Marib (Yemen): Old Marib from a distance

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Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Marib (Yemen). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Marib.
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