SEVEN ARAB KINGDOMS
BC to 700 AD
The Kingdom of Saba (or Sheba) 10th
century BC to the 7th century AD.
This is the earliest and most important of all pre-Islamic civilizations,
it was located in today's regions of Aseer and today's Yemen.
Romans named it "Arabia Felix" (fortunate
or prosperous Arabs). The Sabacean capital, was located near San'a which
is the capital of today's Yemen. It is suggested
that Ma'rib was founded by Noah's eldest
son Shem (or "Sam" in
The Sabacean kings also controlled parts of the East coast in
Africa along the Red Sea where they founded the Kingdom of Abyssinia,
which is today's Eritrea.
The Kingdom of Saba produced and traded in spices, Arab frankincense,
myrrh, and other Arabian aromatics. The Sabaceans excelled in
agriculture, had a remarkable irrigation system, incredible water
tunnels in mountains. They built the legendary Ma'rib
one of the greatest technological wonders of the ancient world.
The dam was depicted as being destroyed in 575 in the Quran.
Around 115 BC to 525 AD
2. The Kingdom of Himyar 115 BC to 525 AD. The majority of the population
in this kingdom was Arab Christians and Arab Jews (non Hebrews).
The capital city was first Zafar and later San'a. The powerful
Himyarite kings executed military expansion plans that extended
their kingdom. Eventually, internal disorder and change of trade
routes caused economic and political decline.
Later, the African Abysinians invaded the Kingdom in 525 AD,
followed by the Persians in 575. Soon after, Islam swept the
entire Arab Peninsula.
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Around 600 BC to 195 AD
3. The Nabataean Kingdom 600 BC to 195 AD. It is suggested that
the Nabataean Kingdom is named after Nabaioth, son of Ishmael.
It stretched from Akaba (or Aqaba) in the south
to Damascus in the north during the first century A.D, and its
capital Petra rose to commercial supremacy as it controlled the
main commercial routes which passed through it.
The Nabataeans were nomadic tribes who were
attracted around 600 BC to Petra from areas
beyond Jordan in search of pure water supply, displacing the
native Edomites. In 312 B.C., they resisted
a Greek invasion by Alexander's successor in Syria, two centuries
later they became a colony of the Roman emperor Trajan. Three
hundred years later the Nabataeans offered their support to help
the Roman Empire in its attempt to invade southern Arabia and
capture Yemen. But the expedition was destroyed and returned
to Egypt with shame and disgrace. Petra (similarly to Saba) became
affluent due to its location, where caravans passed through its
rose-red gorges and found shelter, fresh camels and protection
for the onward journey. Later, as the Romans developed their
own sea routes to the orient, by-passing the Arabian Peninsula,
Petra lost out to Palmyra as the center of the caravan routes
Around 300 BC
4. The Kingdom of Tadmor (or Palmyra). This
is today's Hims city in Syria. Tadmor became
prominent and affluent only in the 3rd century BC when it controlled
trade route between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean.
This kingdom excelled in international trade but eventually
came under the control of the expanding Roman imperialism due
to its strategic location.
In 265 BC the Tadmorian King Udhayna (or Odenatus) was given
the position of vice-emperor of Rome, after his assistance to
the Romans in their war against Persia. However, King Udhayna's
widow, Queen Zainab (or Zenobia), wanted independence from Rome,
and this angered the Romans. This in turn led to the destruction
of the Kingdom of Tadmor and the brutal capturing of Queen Zainab.
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Late 500 AD and early 600 AD
5. The Kingdom of Kindah
Located in the Southern part of the Arabian Peninsula near Hadramawt.
Al-Fau was the capital city.
It is suggested that al-Murar was the founder of this kingdom.
His grandson extended the kingdom by invading Iraq in the north
and only temporarily capturing al-Hirah, the capital city of
the Christian Kingdom of Lakhmid. After loosing al-Hirah, the
kingdom of Kindah was divided into four factions: Asad, Taghlib,
Kinanah and Qays – each faction was ruled by a prince.
Around 300 AD to 600 AD
6. The Kingdom of Lakhmid
Reached its golden era under King al-Munthir III (503-554). It
extended from the western shores of the Arabian (Persian) Gulf
all the way to Northern Iraq. Al-Hira its capital city, was located
on the Euphrates River near present day Kufah.
Working in close cooperation with the Persian Sasanian Empire,
King al-Munthir III frequently challenged the Arab Kingdom of
Ghassan in Syria which was a pro-Byzantine. The Lakhmids, were
patrons of the arts. The Lakhmid dynasty disintegrated after
the death of its great Arab Christian King an-Nu'man III in 602.
Around 600 AD to 700 AD
7. The Kingdom of Ghassan
The Ghassanids were originally a group of South Arabian Christian tribes that emigrated around the 3rd century from Yemen to southern
Syria and Jordan where the Ghassanid kingdom was founded in today's
Syria. The capital was Damascus. It was an ally of the Byzantine
Empire and it protected the vital spice trade route from southern
Arabian Peninsula against the desert Bedouin. After the emergence
of Islam in the 7th century, most inhabitants became Muslims.
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