Buried Christian Empire Casts New Light on Early Islam.(Spiegel).By Matthias Schulz.The commandment "Make yourself no graven image" has long been strictly followed in the Arab world. There are very few statues of the caliphs and ancient kings of the region. The pagan gods in the desert were usually worshipped in an "aniconic" way, that is, as beings without form.Muhammad had a beard, but there are no portraits of him.
(The "crowned man" relief found in Zafar, Yemen is seen as evidence that
there was a Christian empire in the region before Islam took hold. Picture by Paul Yule.)
But now a narcissistic work of human self-portrayal has turned up in Yemen. It is a figure, chiseled in stone, which apparently stems from the era of the Prophet.
Paul Yule, an archeologist from the southwestern German city of Heidelberg, has studied the relief, which is 1.70 meters (5'7") tall, in Zafar, some 930 kilometers (581 miles) south of Mecca. It depicts a man with chains of jewelry, curls and spherical eyes. Yule dates the image to the time around 530 AD.
The German archeologist excavated sites in the rocky highlands of Yemen, an occupation that turned quite dangerous recently because of political circumstances in the country. On his last mission, Yule lost 8 kilograms (18 lbs.) and his equipment was confiscated.
Nevertheless, he is pleased, because he was able to bring notes, bits of debris and bones back to Heidelberg. Yule has concluded that Zafar was the center of an Arab tribal confederation, a realm that was two million square kilometers (about 772,000 square miles) large and exerted its influence all the way to Mecca.
Even more astonishing is his conclusion that kings who invoked the Bible lived in the highland settlement. The "crowned man" depicted on the relief was also a Christian.
Yule has analyzed the mysterious, robed figure in a report for the academic journal Antiquity. He is barefoot, which is typical of Coptic saints. He is holding a bundle of twigs, a symbol of peace, in his left hand. There is a crossbar on his staff, giving it the appearance of a cross. In addition, he is wearing a crown on his head like the ones worn by the Christian rulers of ancient Ethiopia.
All of this suggests that the man with a strange, round face is a descendant of the conquerors from Africa who succeeded in making one of the boldest landing operations in ancient times. The invaders continued their attacks. Southern Arabia's holy warrior, Abraha, had taken control of large areas before long. He even attempted to free bishops being held prisoner by the Persian enemy in Nisibis (in modern-day Turkey), some 2,500 kilometers away.
The man embarked on a religious crusade at the same time. He rebuilt the churches that had been destroyed in Najran, and he had new ones built in Marib and Aden.
His most beautiful church was in Sanaa. It had gilded doors and a throne made of ebony and ivory. In the morning, the rays of the sun shone through an alabaster panel in the dome. The Byzantines supported the project, sending craftsmen, marble and mosaics.The result was an architectural miracle, the likes of which all of Arabia had never seen before.
There is historical evidence, in the form of a rock inscription, that Abraha conducted large-scale raids against defiant Arab tribes near Mecca in 552 AD. A few Western historians consider this to be the true year of Muhammad's birth. The scholar Ibn Ishak, who wrote the first biography of the Prophet, states that the proclaimer of the Koran was born "in the year of the elephant."
Oddly enough, the scrawled rock inscription could be interpreted to mean that the tribe of the Kuraish, to which the Prophet belonged, sometimes fought for the Christians. Were they allies? Was Muhammad born in a city that stood under the banner of the cross?
There are indications that this could be true. For instance, a Christian cemetery is mentioned in the oldest history of Mecca, written by the Arab historian Asraki.Read the full story here. via mfs-theothernews.com
Labels: Archaeology» archeologists» Christians» Islam» Paul Yule» Yemen
wasn't Mohammad married to a Christian? Did he not think he was Christian himself? I see no conjecture here in saying that many of Mohammad's people were Christians. We are talking about mostly illiterates. They would not of understood the differences between ideology and theology. If Mohammad said something they would not of been able to pick up a book and double check. No doubt the early Muslims really did think they were Christians and Jews. I find nothing offensive about considering this.