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EARLY CHRISTIANITY

tants of these unfruitful districts who were not resident in the towns, or engaged in commerce, lived principally by fishing, and gained from foreign nations the appellation of Icthyophagi. But the fertile valleys and mountain plains abounded in rich and beautiful towns, and well peopled villages.[1] Mariaba, or Saba, the metropolis of Hamyar, and the fairest city of Arabia, was situated on a gentle elevation amongst the mountains which are included in the modern province of Hadramaut, three or four stations from the city of Sanaa.[2]

  1. Πολεις δ' εν μεν τῃ παραλιᾳ μη πολλας ειναι, κατα δε την μεσογαιαν πολλας οικουμενας καλως. Eratosthenes, apud Strab. p. 387. lib. xvi.—Niebuhr describes these mountain plains, particularly the plateau of Nedjed, as still covered with towns and villages, and abounding in all kinds of fruits. "Most of the Arab tribes south of Zohran," says Burckhardt, "belong to the sect of Zeid; they live in villages, and are chiefly what the Arabs call Hadhar; or settlers, not Bedouins; but as they keep large herds of cattle, they descend, in time of rain, into the eastern plain, which affords rich pasturage for cows, camels, and sheep." They trade, he adds, both to the coast and with the Bedouins of the north. Travels in Arabia, Appendix, p. 378.
  2. Agatharchides, Peripl. p. 63. Abulfeda's Arab. p. 58. Geogr. Arabs, Clim. 2. part 6.