Courtesy André Lemaire

A RECORD OF SHEBA’S TRADE WITH JUDAH. This fragmented and broken but well-preserved 25-line South Arabian inscription mentions, among other things, a trading expedition of the kingdom of Sabaea (Biblical Sheba) to ’HGR YHD, the “towns of Judah.” Believed to date to around 600 B.C.E., the inscription confirms Judah’s role in a lucrative Arabian trade that is alluded to several times in the Bible.

Likely a memorial inscription that originally hung on the wall of a temple, the bronze plaque inscription was written in the distinctive South Arabian script by Sabahhumu, an official messenger of the Sabaean king. To the left and right of the inscription are several men dressed in Assyrian-style gowns, each shown with one hand raised and the other holding a bag-shaped vessel. In the frieze at the top of the plaque, five stylized ibex heads peer down over the text.