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The Marib Dam

The Marib Dam
As the Sabaean kingdom developed, they built a huge earth filled dam in the second half of the 6th century BC to hold back some of the water that came down the wadi. From the lake that developed behind the dam, they developed a splendid irrigation system that watered about 25, 0000 acres.

During the years that I lived in Yemen, I had the opportunity to visit the ruins of the quarter-mile-long Marib Dam. I also viewed the new modern dam as it was built and the huge water reservoir that filled up behind the dam. When the ancient reservoir re-filled with water, hundreds of old dry wells and water canals scattered through the desert below the dam suddenly filled with water again. The ancient farmlands, that for centuries had lain deserted, were suddenly usable again.


Above: The modern dam is on the right. You can see people walking on the road across the top of the dam. Further to the right of this is the new lake created by the dam. Behind the dam is the wadi where water would have rushed out into the desert. The ancient dam is farther down this wadi, near the beginning of the wadi. Its location is marked by a rectangle.

Below: With a telephoto lens we can make out the sluice gates of the old dam. The are clearly visible on the right hand side of the wadi.

The road across the top of the new dam
The lake created by the new dam
The new lake is very large.
The sluice gates of the ancient dam from up close

 Above: Pictures of the sluice gates, which are all that remain of the original Marib Dam. In the picture on the left, the ancient dam was located between the sluice gates at the forefront of the picture and the sluice gates on the other side of the wadi. Years of erosion have removed the earthen dam, but the stone sluice gates remain to this day.

Above: Inscription on the sluice gates of the Marib Dam

Above: The city of Baraqish known as Yathul in ancient times. This city was the capital of the Minaean Kingdom around 400 BC. It is located about 30 km north from the dam and must be accessed by 4 wheel drive. (Picture used with permission. Copyright Ryo YAMANA. Please visit his site Fiddler's Photo Album to view more pictues from Yemen)

Copyright 2002 CanBooks

Yemeni Pages in


  A Caravansary

The Marib Dam

Sa'ada (City in the North)

 Yemeni Lifestyle

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Nabataeans in Africa Myos Hormos Port on the Red Sea
Africa: Juani Island Leuce Come Port on the Red Sea
Africa: Mafia Island Trade on the Arabian Sea
Africa: The Coast of Tanzania Trade on the Red Sea
Nabataeans in India Nabataeans in the Arab Gulf
The Kingdoms of South India Indian Pottery Found in Petra
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Southern Arabia: The Marib Dam Nabataeans on Rhodes
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