Queen of Sheba
The southern Arabians had the monopoly for two of the most sought after materials of ancient times; frankincense and myrrh. These two resins only grow in eastern Yemen (Hadramawt) and the Dofar, today southern Oman, which in those days belonged to the kingdom of Hardawat, and in some parts of Somalia. The frankincense route, one of the most ancient international trade routes, led form Southern Arabia to Ghaza in Palestine, running inland roughly parallel to the Red Sea and covering the total distance of almost 3,400 km. Not only the production but also the trade in these goods was in the hands of the ancient Southern Arabians. There was not a temple or wealthy home in Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Jerusalem or Rome which did not require these precious resins and was prepared to pay for their weight in gold. This explains the historical background to the report about the Queen of Saba's caravan journey to Jerusalem. The story points of the highly developed system of overland trade in the Arabian Peninsula and at the same time recalls the existence of queens amongst the Arabs, such an unusual phenomenon in the eyes of contemporary rulers in the Middle East. The oldest and most powerful state in ancient southern Arabia was Saba with its capital Marib situated in the east of what is today the Yemen Arab Republic.