), a celebrated people of Yemen,
in the SW. of Arabia. Strabo names them first of four great nations situated in this extremity of the peninsula, and bordering on the Red Sea: their principal town was Carna or Carana; next to these were the Sabaei, whose capital was Mariaba. The Catabanes were the third, extending to the straits and the passage of the Arabian Gulf--the Straits of Bab-el Mandeb.
Their royal city was Tamna. To the east were the Chatramotitae, whose capital was named Cabatanum. From Elana to the country of the Minaei was 70 days'journey. Thus far Strabo (xvi. pp. 768, 776); consistently with whose account, Ptolemy (6.7.23
) mentions the Minaei as a mighty people (Μιναῖοι, μέγα ἔθνος
), bordering on the inner frankincense country, not far from the Sabaei, and places Carna Metropolis in long. 73° 30′, lat. 23° 15′, which would be on the coast of the Gulf of Arabia, distinct from the Carnus or Carna above named, and identical with the Cornon of Pliny, a town of the Charmaei, who were contiguous to the Minaei. Pliny represents the Minaei as contiguous to the Atramitae in the interior; which Atramitae--identical no doubt with the Chatramotitae of Strabo--he represents as a branch of the Sabaei, which last tribe extended along both seas, i. e. the Indian Ocean
and the Arabian Gulf;
and as the Carnus,which he names as a city of the Sabaei, is doubtless the Carna which Strabo makes the capital of the Minaei, he would seem to imply that these last were also another division of the same principal tribe of the Sabaei. Their country was reported by Aelius Gallus to be exceedingly rich. “Minaeis fertiles agros palmetis arbustisque, in pecore divitias.” (Plin. Nat. 6.32
.) They are mentioned by Diodorus (as Μινναίοι
), in connection with the Gerrhaei, as transporting frankincense and other scented wares from Upper Arabia (ἐκ τῆς ἄνω λεγομένης Ἀραβίας
), i.e. the interior (3.42). All these notices would serve to fix the seat of this tribe at the SW. part of the peninsula, in the modern Yemen.
Pliny says that they were supposed to derive their origin from Minos, the king of Crete, as their neighbours, the Rhadamaei, were from his brother Rhadamanthus (6.32), in which Mr. Forster thinks we may “easily recognise, under the thin veil of classical fiction, the important historical fact of the existence of an open. trade between the Greeks and Arabs from very remote times, and of all the facilities implied by commercial intercommunity.” (Arabia,
vol. i. p. xxxvii., ii. pp. 74, 75.)
In his account of the myrrh and frankincense, Pliny relates that this plant, which grew in the country of the Atramitae, one canton (pagus) of the Sabaei, was conveyed by one narrow path through the neighbouring canton of the Minaei, who were the first to carry on the trade, and always the most active in it; from which fact the frankincense came to be called Minnaeum (12.30). And in speaking of the various qualities of myrrh, he mentions second, “Minaea, in qua Atramitica,” as most esteemed next to the Troglodytica (12.35).
With regard to the position of this important tribe in the modern map of Arabia, there is a wide difference of opinion among geographers. D'Anville finds their capital Carana in the modern Almakarana,
which is, he says, a strong place. (Geograph. Anc.
tome ii. p. 221; comp. Forster, Arabia,
vol. i. p. liii.) Gosselin contends that Almakarana
is too far south for the Carna of the Minaei, and is disposed to find this capital in Carn-al-Manazil,
as Bochart had suggested (Phaleg,
lib. ii. cap. 22. p. 121); which Edrisi places two days' journey from Mekka,
on the road to Sanaa.
(Gosselin, Récherches sur la Géographie des Anciens,
tome ii. p. 116.) Dean Vincent thus attempts to fix their position:--“The site of the Minaeans is not easy to fix; but by a comparison of different accounts, they were S. of Hedjaz, N. of Hadramaut,
and to the eastward of Sabêa
; and they were the carriers to all these provinces: their caravans passed in 70 days from Hadramaut
as we learn from Strabo; and Aila
is but 10 miles (?) from Petra.” He remarks, [p. 2.358]
in direct opposition to Gosselin, that Bochart, in placing them at Carno-‘l-Manazoli
), only 3 stations S. of Mecca,
which he supposes to be the Carna or Carana of Pliny, brings them too far to the N., for that “Ptolemy places them much farther S.” (Periplus,
cap. xxvii. p. 363, and note 254.) But M. Jomard holds that Wady Mina,
to the S. (?) of Mecca,
corresponds with the ancient Mineaei: the distance to Aila
he computes as 10 1/2 degrees, or 294 hours (ap. Mengin. Histoire de l'Egypte, &c.
p. 377). Mr. Forster assigns them a wide extent of territory in the modern provinces of Hedjaz, Nedjd,
even to the borders of Hadramaut.
“The seat of this great commercial people, who divided with the Gerraei the commerce of the peninsula (transported by D'Anville to the heart of Yemen,
and by Vincent to the country of the Asyr
Arabs), assuredly lay, if any reliance whatever may be placed in the position of Ptolemy, in an inland direction ESE. of Mecca. For the Minaei, according to him, lay immediately S. of the” regio interior myrrifera; “and this, again, was situated due S. of the Manitae. The Manitae being the same with the Mezeyne, this description would identify the” interior myrrifera “with the fruitful mountain region E. of Tayf,
and the Minaei, consequently, with the great Ateybe
tribe described by Burckhardt, as the most numerous of the tribes of Hedjaz,
and inhabiting the rich inland country stretching eastward, under those mountains, from Lye
vol. ii. pp. 251, 252.)
He adds, in a note(*), “Its site (viz. that of the ‘interior myrrifera’ ), with that of its inhabitants, the Minaei, may be determined independently, by the concurrent testimonies of Ptolemy and Pliny: the former places his Chargatha [Χαριάθα,
], and the latter his Karriata, in conjunction with the Minaei.
The town thus denominated is clearly that of Kariatain;
is seated beneath, or rather upon, the mountains of Tayf.
” Having thus determined their northern border “S. of Kariatain,
or in the plains below the mountain chain running ENE. from Tayf,
” he thus defines their southern limits. “On the S., according to Ptolemy, the Minaei were bounded by the Doreni and the Mokeretae.
It is impossible to mistake, in the Doreni, the inhabitants of Zokran,
or in the Mokeretae, those of Mekhra,
two adjoining provinces, lying S. of Mecca
and crossing the entire space between the sea and the uninhabited desert.
This decisive verification shuts in the ancient Minaei between the mountains of Zohran
and those N. of Tayf
” (p. 255). “The chief towns, the territory, and the national habits of the Minaei, as described by the ancient geographers, bear a remarkable correspondence to those of the Ataybe
Arabs, the present inhabitants of this district; and the coincidence of the palm-groves, and other fruit-trees of the Minaei, and their wealth in cattle, noticed by Pliny, with the excellent pasture-grounds, the great abundance of camels and sheep, possessed by the powerful tribe of Ateybe,
and with the plantations for which Taraba is remarkable, that furnish all the surrounding country with dates, environed, as Burckhardt describes both it and Tayf
to be, ‘with plam-groves and gardens, watered by numerous rivulets,’ must be allowed to corroborate, in a very remarkable manner, this verfication of the ancient seats of the Minaei.” (Forster, Arabia,
vol. ii. pp. 254--257.)
Mr. Forster further identifies the principal town of the Minaei (the Carman Regia of Ptolemy) with Karn-al-Manzil,
a considerable town still in being between Tayf
. . . and Carnon with Karn-al-Magsal,
upon the mountains S. of Tayf;
which former Bochart had already identified with the Carna or Carana of Pliny. “The site of their capital, within a few miles of Wady Mina
[immediately to the E. of Mekka
], suggests the not improbable derivation of their name from that famous seat of the idolatry of ancient Arabia” (p. 254, note†); an hypothesis in which, it has been seen, Jomard coincides.
But, though fixing the original and principal seat of the Minaei in the S. of the Hedjaz,
he thinks “it still is certain, from Pliny's statement, that this people possessed a key to the commerce of the incense country, by having obtained the command of one of the two passes into the Djebal-al-Kamûr
” (which is in the heart of Hadramaut
); and he hence infers that they possessed one of the two emporiums of the trade in incense and myrrh, mentioned by Pliny, on the southern coast; “an inference which at once conducts us to Thauane or Doàn
[NE. of Ras Fartak
], and to the mountain pass immediately behind it” (p. 258, comp. vol. i. p. 135, 136).
The arguments in proof of this position, and of the connection of the Minaei with the Joktanite patriarch Jerah, which cannot be considered as convincing, are fully stated and enforced by Mr. Forster with his usual ingenuity (vol. i. pp. 128--136); but it is an unfortunate circumstance that he has removed the central seat of this tribe,--descended, according to this hypothesis, from “the father of Yemen,” --into the territory of Hedjas
and for Nedjd;
he maintains that, “from E. to W. the Minael stretched the entire breath of the peninsula, their eastern frontier touching the Gerrheans, on the Persian Gulf;
while Carman Regia, now Karn-al-Manzil,
their metropolis, is seated only 21 leagues ESE. of Mekka, in the great province of Al-Kardje
” vol. i. p. lxviii.)
The question of the position of the Minaeans has been investigated by M. Fresnel with a widely different result. (Journal Asiatique,
3me Sériè, tome x. pp. 90--96, 176--200.)
He confines them to the central part of Yemen,
and denies their connection either with Wady Mina,
or with Manâh,
an idol of the Houdhaylides and the Khouzâïdes, between Mekka
He regards the name as a possible corruption of Yemenaei, the first syllable being converted into the Greek article, in its transmutation from one language to another; but suggests also another derivation of the name from the patriarch Ayman, found in the native genealogies third in descent from Saba.
In confirmation of the former etymology, he maintains that the name Yemen,
which now comprehends the eastern quarter of Southern Arabia, was formerly proper to the central portion of that province.
He thinks that the capital of the Minaei--the Carna or Carana of Strabo, the Carnon of Pliny, identical, also, with the Carman Regia of Ptolemy (to which that geographer assigns too high a latitude, as he does also the Minaei)--is to be found in the Al-Karn
of Wady Doàn,
five or six days N., or, according to another authority, WNW., of Mukallah.
Their other town, Mariaba Baramalacum, he places in the same valley. [MARIABA
2.] The position thus assigned to Carna in the Wady Doàn,
enables us to fix the extent of the territory of the Minaei between the Sabaeans and [p. 2.359]Hadramaut.
Their country must have comprehended the eastern half of the territory of Yafa,
and the western half of the modern Hadramaut.
So that Shibâm
and the tomb of Hûd,
and the wells of Barkôt
(Ptolemy's source of the Styx), which now form part of Hadramaut,
pertained to the Minaei. (Ritter, Erdkunde von Arabien,
i. pp. 278--284.)