), a people of Arabia Felix, placed by Ptolemy above, i. e. north of, the Rathini, and west of the outer Frankincense country (ἡ ἐκτὸς Σμυρνοφόρος
), contiguous to the Chatramamititae (6.7.25).
The similarity of name indicates a connection between this tribe and the Maepha metropolis of the same geographer; the same as the “Aphae metropolis” of Arrian, which he places 9 days'journey east of his Maphoritis regio, and therefore 12 days from the Red Sea.
It was the capital of Charibaël, the lawful king of the Homeritae and their neighbours the Sabaitae, styled the friend of the Roman emperors, to whom he is said to have sent frequent embassies. [MAEPHA
] The district is probably that now known as Wady Mayfa,
in the midst of which is situated the remarkable ruins now called Nakab-el-Hajar,
which are supposed to mark the site of the metropolis.
This fruitful valley commences above the ruins in question and is well cultivated throughout.
It is thus described by Lieut. Wellsted, who traversed its southern part in 1838:--“Nakab-el-Hajar
(ancient MAEPHA q. v.
) is situated north-west, and is distant 48 miles from the village of )Aïn, which is marked on the chart in latitude 14° 2′ north, and longitude 46° 30′ east, nearly.
It stands in the centre of a most extensive valley, called by the natives Wady Meïfah,
which, whether we regard its fertility, population, or extent, is the most interesting geographical feature we have yet discovered on the southern coast of Arabia. Taking its length from where it opens out on the sea-coast to the town of ‘Abbán,
it is 4 days' journey, or 75 miles. Beyond this point I could not exactly ascertain the extent of its prolongation; various native authorities give it from 5 to 7 additional days. Throughout the whole of this space it is thickly studded with villages, hamlets, and cultivated grounds.
In a journey of 15 miles, we counted more than thirty of the former, besides a great number of single houses.” (Wellsted, Travels in Arabia,
vol. i. p. 436.)