Christian Robin. The last glimmers of polytheism in Arabia 


Dr Christian Robin, the founder of the French Center of Research in Sanaa (Yemen), 1982, is a highly acclaimed and widely published researcher in the history of ancient Arabia and Ethiopia. He has been a member of the national research center “Centre national de la Recherche scientifique” (CNRS) since 1970. He is the editor of the book : Alessandro de Maigret, Sabaʾ, Maʿîn et Qatabân. Contributions à l’archéologie et à l’histoire de l’Arabie ancienne (Alessandro de Maigret, Sabaʾ, Maʿîn and Qataban. Contributions to the Archeology and History of Ancient Arabia) (2012).


The last glimmers of polytheism in Arabia

Thanks to archaeological research conducted over the past 50 years throughout the Arabian Peninsula, thousands of epigraphic texts have been discovered in ancient monuments or on rocks in the countryside and the desert. They allow us to highlight several developments.

Almost all the temples dedicated to polytheistic deities disappeared during the 3rd and 4th centuries of the Christian era. Prayers addressed to polytheistic deities in stone inscriptions became rare in the 4th century and disappeared after 400. Names of persons mentioning a polytheistic deity, such as Taym al-Lāt, Aws Manāt or ʿAbd al-ʿUzzà, become rare.

From 380 onward, all prayers are addressed to a single God, who at first bears various names, then is named al-Raḥmān and al-Ilāh.

The rejection of the polytheism is complete in the ruling classes of the Ḥimyar kingdom, as soon as the ruler converts to Judaism around 380. But it is more difficult to appreciate in the popular classes of the cities and countryside and in the marginal populations of the desert.


Feb 06 2023


19:00 - 20:00


Yarmouk Cultural Centre
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