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MAEPHA

MAEPHA (Μαίφα μητρόπολις), an inland city of Arabia Felix, placed by Ptolemy in long. 83° 15′, [p. 2.245]lat. 15°, the capital, no doubt, of the Maphoritae, whom he places above the Homeritae and Adramitae of the southern coast. [MAPHORITAE] The situation of this tribe is still marked by the wide and very fruitful Wady Mayfah, in the midst of which “the very extensive village named Mayfah, situated at the eastern base of the Hummarees,” perhaps marks the site of the Maepha metropolis. Mr. Forster, however, identifies it with the ruined site of Nakab-el-Hajar, discovered and described by Lieut. Wellstead in 1834, the situation of which is thus stated by that officer:--“Nakab-el-Hajar is situated north-west, and is distant forty-eight miles from the village of ‘Ain [on the coast], which is marked on the chart in latitude 14° 2′ north, and longitude 46° 30′ east, nearly.” It stands in the centre of the Wady Meifah, nearly 20 miles north of the village of that name, and was evidently a place of considerable importance in ancient times. The inscription over the gateway, in the ancient Arabic character, commonly known as the Hadraumatic, would doubtless throw light on the history of this castle; and it is curious that while the attempted decipherments of Professor Roediger and Mr. Charles Forster have so little in common, both would agree in identifying it with Maepha; for while the former discovers the name Mêfa twice in the first line of the inscription, the latter, who pronounces that this name “has no existence in the inscription,” compensates for this disappointment by discovering a list of proper names, which serve to connect it with several historical personages, among whom are an Arabian patriarch, Mohâreb, son of Koreish, “belonging to a period certainly prior to the Christian era;” and Charibaël, “that king of the Homerites and Sabaeans celebrated by Arrian (Periplus Maris Eryth. pp. 13, 14, apud Hudson Geographici Minores), whose alliance in the reign of Claudius was assiduously courted by the Romans. The inscription further mentions many of the buildings described by Lieut. Wellstead.” (Forster, vol. ii. pp. 193--204, 383--393.)

[G.W]

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