Socotra: An island rife with discovery

Published on 26 November 2012 in Report
Ashraf Al-Muraqab (author)

Ashraf Al-Muraqab


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On Socotra Island, investigations are ongoing to verify the hypothesized centuries-old artifacts unearthed by a Yemeni-Russian team of researchers who have operated on the island for three decades. (YT photo by Sadeq Al-Wesabi)

On Socotra Island, investigations are ongoing to verify the hypothesized centuries-old artifacts unearthed by a Yemeni-Russian team of researchers who have operated on the island for three decades. (YT photo by Sadeq Al-Wesabi)

A Yemeni-Russian team that has been working together for five years in Yemen discovered last week a building on Socotra Island that dates back the eighth century A.D., according to Khalid Ali Al-Ansi, an archeology expert in the General Authority for Antiques.

Al-Ansi told the Yemen Times that the archeological site, found in the Foahr Sha’awb District on the island, dates back to the pre-Islamic period. After initially discovering the building, the team went on to find a whole compound consisting of square and circular buildings separated from one another by lanes.

Within the compoundو the archaeologists found ancient carvings bearing the south-Arabian alphabet, as well as a cluster of letters that Al-Ansi conjectures could be names of former rulers and kings. Al-Ansi speculates some of the findings date back to the Stone Age in the eastern and southern areas of Socotra.

Investigations are underway to verify the validity of the hypothesized dates.

Yemeni researchers hope to continue to work with the Russian team.  Russian archeologists have been operating on the island for three decades.

Muhanad Al-Siani, the head of the General Authority for Antiquities, commended the historic relationship between Yemen and Russia in the field of research and exploration in several areas in Yemen. He praised the Russian team for its decision to resume their archeological activities on Socotra following the political turmoil of 2011.

Earlier this year, a Russian team of archeologists discovered a site named Kush on Socotra. On the site, many many stone and wooden boxes and pottery utensils were unearthed. The artifacts are believed to date back to 2,000 years ago.

Jameel Shamsan, the manager of the Historic Cities Preservation Authority, said they are planning, in cooperation with the General Authority of Antiquities, to organize an international conference to exhibit the work that the Russian team of excavators has amassed on the island.

Al-Siani hopes the international attention, as a result of these discoveries, will lead to an increase in tourism on Socotra, an island characterized by its natural beauty and often called the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

Najla Jubran, an employee at the Environmental Protection Authority in Socotra, said Socotra is distinguished by its botanical diversity.  Despite its relatively small size, at 3,598 km squared, she said there are 825 types of wild plants, 307 of which only grow on Socotra.

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