Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/740

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666

ARABIA


666


ARABIA


that of Kataban, a fourth, Hadramaut, as well as those of Iviiiyan, Raidan, Habashah, and others. Tlie Mincan Kingdom seems to have flourished in southern Arabia as early as 1200 B. c, and from the various Minean inscriptions found in northorn Arabia they seem to have extended their power even to the north of the peninsula. Their principal cities were Main, Karnan, and Yatil. The Sabean, or Him- yaritic, Kingdom (the Homerita; of the classics) Hourislied either contemporarily (D. H. Mtiller) or after (Glaser, Homniel) the Minean. Their capital city was Marib (the Mariaba of the Arabian classics), famous for its dam, the breaking of which is often mentioned by later Arabic poets and traditions as the immediate cause of the fall of the Sabean power. The Sabeans, after two centuries of repeated and persistent attacks, finally succeeded in overthrowing the rival Minean Kingdom. Their power, howe\'er, lasted till about 300 a. d., when they were defeated and conquered by the Abyssinians.

The Katabanian state, with its capital, Taima, was ruined some time in the second century after Christ, probably by the Sabeans. Towards the beginning of our Era the three most prominent and power- ful Arab states were the Sabean, the Himyarite, and that of Hadramaut. In the fourth century the Himyarites, aided by the Sassanian kings of Persia, appear to have had a controlling power in southern Arabia, while the Abyssinians were absolute rulers of Yemen. These, however, although pressed by Himyar and temporarily confined to the Tehamah district (a. d. 378), succeeded, in 525, with the help of the Byzantine Emperor, in overthrowing the Himyarite power, killing the king and becoming the absolute rulers of South Arabia. In 568 the Abys- siniaiLs were finally driven out of Arabia, and the power restored to the Yemenites; tliis vassal king- dom of the Persian Empire lasted until the year 634, when it was absorbed, together with all the other Arabian States, by the Mohammedan conquest.

Such was the political condition of southern Arabia previous to the time of Mohammed. Of central Arabia little or nothing is known. In northern and north-western Arabia there flourished the Nabata>an Kingdom, the people of which, though Arabian by race, nevertheless spoke Aramaic. The Nabatsans must have come from other parts of Arabia to the North some time about the fifth century b. c, for at the beginning of the Machabean period we find them already well established in that region. Shortly before the Christian Era, Antigonus and Ptolemy had in vain 'attempted to gain a footing in Arabia; and Pompey himself, victorious elsewliere, was checked on its frontiers. During the reign of Augustus, jElius Callus, the Roman Prefect of Egypt, with an army composed of 10,000 Roman infantry, 500 Jews, and 100 Nabata?ans, undertook an expedition against the province of Yemen. He took by a.ssault the city of Nejran, on the frontier of Yemen, and advanced sis far as Marib, the capital of Yemen, but, owing to the resistance of the Arabs and the disorganization of his army, which was unaccus- tomed to the heat of the tropical climate of Arabia, he Wiis forced to retreat to Egypt withovit accom- plishing any permanent and effective conquest. Later attempts to confiuer the counti-y were made by Roman governors and generals under Trajan and SeyeriLs, but these were mostly restricted to the neighbourhood of the Syrian frontiers, such as Nabatea, Uosra, Petra, Palmyra, and the Sinaitic peniasula.

Another North-Arabian kingdom was that of Hira._ situated in the nortli-easterly frontier of Arabia adjoining Irak, or Babylonia. Its kings eoverned the western shore of the lower ICiiijhrates, from the neighbourhood of Babylon down to the confines of Ncjd, and along tlie coast of the Persian


Gulf. It was founded in the second century of the Christian Era and lasted about 424 years, i. e. till it was absorbed by the Mohammedan con(juest. The kings of Hira were more or less vassal to their powerful neighbours, the Sassanian kings of Persia, jjaying them allegiance and tribute. Another Arabian state was tliat of Ghassan whose kings ruled o\er a considerable part of north-western Arabia, lower Syria, and Hijaz. It was founded in the first century of the Christian Era and lasted till the time of Mo- hammed. The Kingdom of Ghassan was frequently harassed by Roman and Byzantine encroachments and by unequal alliances. In both these kingdoms (i. e. Hirah and Ghassan) Christianity made rapid progress, and numerous Christian communities, with bishops, churches, and monasteries, flourished there. (For Christianity in Arabia, see below.)

Another Arabian kingdom was that of Kindah, originally from Irak, or north-eastern Arabia, and Mesopotamia. This rather short-lived and weak kingdom began about the fifth century of the Chris- tian Era and ended with Mohammed, i. e. about one century and a half later. Its power and authority extended for a time over the whole northern section of Nejd and as far south as Oman. Besides these independent kingdoms, various Arab tribes, such as that of Koreish, to which Mohammed belonged, Rabeeah, Qays, Hawazin, Tamim, and others, were constantly endeavouring to assume independent power and authority. But their efforts and hopes were finally and permanently shattered by the Mo- hammedan conquest, which put an end to all tribal factions and preponderances by uniting them all into one religious and political kingdom, the Kingdom of Islam.

NiEBUHR, Travels Through Arabia (tr., Edinburgh, 1792); Caussin de Perceval, Essai sur Vhistoire des Arabes avant rislamisme, etc. (Paris. 1847); Sedillot, Histoire aynerale des Arabes (Paris, 1877); Sprenger. Die alte Geographie Arabiena als Grundlage der EntU'icklungsgeschichte des Semitismus (Berne, 1875); Palgrave, Travels in Eastern Arabia (London, 1893): Hamadani, Geography of the Arabian Peninsula (ed. Miiller, 1891); Wellhausen, Reste arabischen HeidenthuTns (Berlin. 1897): Bekri and Yaqut. Geographical Dictionaries (ed., Wiistenfield, 1806-70): Hommel, Sudarabi^che Chresto- ■mathie (Munich, 1893), and Explorations in Arabia, in Hli.- PRECHT, Explorations in Bible-Lands during the Nineteenth Century (Philadelphia, 1903). e!13-752; Glaser, Die Abessinier in Arabien und Africa (Munich, 1895), and Skizze der Geschichte und Geographie Arabiens (Berlin. 1890); Winckler, vl/torvn- talische Forschungen (1st and 2d series, 1893-98): Hogarth. Unveiling of Arabia (London, 1904); Brunow, Die Provincia Arabia (2 vols, fol., 1905): Margoliouth in Hast., Diet, of the Bible, s. v.; Halevy in ViG., Diet, de la Bible, s. v.

Christianity in Arabia. — The origin and pro- gress of Christianity in Arabia is, owing to the lack of sufficiently authenticated historical docu- ments, involved in impenetrable obscurity, and only detached episodes in one part or another of the peninsula can be grouped together and studied. References to various Christian missionary enter- prises in the north and south of the country, found in early ecclesiastical historians and Fathers, such as Eusebius, Rufinus, Socrates, Nicephorus, Meta- phrastes, Theodoret, Origen, and Jerome, are val- uable, but to be used with caution, inasmuch as a lamentable confusion, common to all writers of that time between Aralsia proper and India, or Abyssinia, seems to have crept into their writings.

Furthermore, no proper discrimination is made by any of them among the various traditions at their disposal. More abundant and trustworthy informa- tion may be gathered from Nestorian antl Jacobite writers, as each of these sects has had its own s])here of influence in the peninsula, and particularly in the northern kingdoms of I.Iira and Ghassan. Arabic historians (all of post-Islamic times) are very interesting in their allusions to the same, but are at vari:in(c witli one another. Indigenous ccclosiaslical literature and monuments, except per- haps one iiLscription of tlic fifth century after Christ