When Arabia was Eastern Ethiopia (Part 3) – by – Dana Marniche
It should be understood that many of the names of Cushitic speaking tribes today in the horn of Africa – Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia/Eritrea – were also known in early Arabia. In Somalia such clans as the Yahar, Darood, the Mahra or Maheyra of Somalia and the Yemen, Makhar or Makir (Machir), Bin Sama’al or Somali(or Sam’al and El Sama of Yemen), Rahawein (ancient Rahawiyyin or Ru’ayn or Rahawi of Yemen) and smith clans such the Hubir (Heber), Yubir, Sabi, Tumal and Wubar (or Wabar) are mentioned in ancient times and through the early Islamic period as Himyarite and Sabaean tribes in South Arabian inscriptions., They are in fact, found in earlier Mesopotamian inscriptions and later Arabic documents. The phrase as divided as the Sabaeans as Diop mentioned has everything to do with this dispersal.
Other tribes located today both in Arabia and in Africa claiming descent from Himyar and Kahlan, descendants of Qahtan, through Abd Shams Saba or Saba and his sons Himyar and Kahlan are the Afar (Afari or Afariyyah in Arabia), and Danakil or Anagil, (Nakh’l, Nakhawila or An-Nakha al Nakha of Arabia) and many other tribes. Thus, the bulk of the tall Cushitic speakers of Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Puntland are likely derived from African peoples who had settled in ancient times in south Arabia. This settlement very likely began during the Neolithic and/or Copper Age (between 7th and the 3rd millennium B.C. )when elements of the Doian neolithic of Somalia begin to appear in the Rub al Khali and tall, oval-headed “Negroids” as Anati put it, begin to appear in the rock art of the Central Arabian and Syrian Arabian deserts.
Another group of African affiliation appeared in the rock art along the coasts of Arabia, and this population was tied to the smaller or shorter-statured populations that appeared in the deserts of Egypt and Sudan as well as along the Nile in both places in the proto-dynastic period. This group was no doubt related to the Beja or Bega populations and the names of the Beja or Bega or Buga as they were called in earlier writings appear on both sides of the Arabia Sea as well. They include the Beza’a or Bayzan , Beni Amer or Amir, Abdah or Ababdah, Huweitat, Atmaan, Umar’ar, Hada or Hadandowa, Bishari, Erigat, Orteyga, Bediyat,. The Beja of Sudan of modern Eritrea and Egypt are descendants of ancient Afro-Arabian bedouin who had intermixed with later Islamic Arabians coming from Hejaz through Sinai during the hegemonic period of Islam. They in fact have always extended up to Sinai and into the area of Transjordan. They are also traditionally called Matat or Madid which may be related to the ancient Egyptian name for peoples in these same regions – “Madjayu”.
The most recent wave of Arabian origin to enter the region of Sudan and East Africa are the people whose names are still found on both sides of the Nile are the Sudanese Arabs who came after the birth of Muhammed and until the 18th century. They include the Manasse’ir (Mansour), Kababish or Kabsh, Beni Amer, Ja’aliya or Ja’aliin, Bishari’in, Humr, Muzeina, Haweitat, Hamar, Rufa or Ruwafa, Khuzam, Salamat,, Hamid, Gerar, Hamran, Mugharba, Lahawi, Ma’aza. Habbaniyya, Mahass, Rashaida, Djerafin (Terapin), Hawara, Kuwahla, Bayza’a, Rikab, Shaikyia, Dhubaniyya and Mesiria to name just a few. These tribes are in part and in full the descendants of tribes of the Arabian bedouin of North Africa Rabia, Sulaym, Hilal, and Ghatafan who began emigrating from the Hejaz area of northwestern Arabia into Egypt as early as the 9th c. A.D. and continued their immigration as late as a few centuries ago. They had originally conquered Egypt and North Africa and finally moved southward into Sudan, Chad and Eritrea.
The Last Living Descendants of Shem
Early Muslim writers outside of Arabia were often confused on the origin of the true Arabs. They sometimes divided them into Ishmaelites and Qahtanis or northern Arabians and southern ones. But most northern Arabian bedouin had traditions of coming from the Yemen from the kingdom of Himyar or Humayr and Saba who were descendants of Qahtan, while the dark skinned tribes of Qahtan in the Yemen in fact claimed an African origin.
Qahtan is sometimes said to be a child of A’abar or Abir (Biblical Eber or Heber) and otherwise of Asmah who was apparently the Isma’il of later writings. In addition Qahtan (Joktan) son of Abir (Eber) whose brothers were Aram (Aram), Awza or Aus (Uz) had fathered Amalek and A’d (the latter’s name was derived from Adah) are all closely related peoples in Arabian tradition. Amalek in particular ruled from Sana’a in the far southwest corner of Arabia in modern Yemen to Syria at one time. All historical accounts state that the near descendant (great grandson) of Qahtan was Saba (Seba) whose two sons according to most accounts were Himyar (or Humayr) and Kahlan (Nakhete Kalnis of Ethiopian genealogy). These went on to populate the whole of Arabia and to rule a great part of the ancient world under leaders such as Numayr ibn Qassit (Nimrod), the Amelekite rulers Cathim (Heth of the Hittites or Cetimus of Mythology), Anak and Sheshi the Hittite rulers of Canaan, Ak (Og), Kabus, Djurham or Darim (Hadoram) and the Sabaeans or Adite kings of Himyar such as Murath’ad from whom came the name of the Banu Murad (Amurath or Amorites), Akk ( Og the Amorite king of the Rephaim), Al Modad or Al Matat(Almodad), Numan, Ma’afir , and the later Himyarite rulers Awal (Hevila) Dhu’l Karnein and Afrikus who colonized Africa. Incidentally the rulers Anak and Sheshai have been identified as names of the Hyksos rulers Nakhi and Sheshi in Egypt by archeologist David Rohl.
1872A.D. -On the inhabitants of southwest Arabia in Yemen, “The inhabitants of this part of Arabia nearly all belong to the race of Himyar. Their complexion is almost as black as the Abyssinians,” see p. 121 in “Geography of Southern Arabia” by Baron von Maltzan, in Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Vol. 16, No. 2 , pp. 115-123.
1900 – In this year the sultan of the tribe of Yafa’a described as of “greenish brown” color See Mabel and Theodore Bent Southern Arabia p. 403
1932- Bertram Thomas describes individuals of southern Arabia. Men of the Yafi’i or Yafa’a clans of Ahl Yazid fuzzy haired, greenish–brown and Yahar tribe of the Yafa’a as dark chocolate Anthropological Observations in South Arabia, Bertram Thomas in The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Insdtitute of Great Britain and Ireland Vol. 62 83-103 Jan-June 1932. On a sultan of the Yafa’ai tribe who claim descent from Himyar ibn Qahtan through the tribe of al Haf. They are likely the Haiappa or Chayafa who figure in Assyrian inscriptions circa 8th c. B.C.. and the Ephah of the Bible.
1927 – “The people of Dhufar are of the Qahtan tribe, the sons of Joktan mentioned in Genesis: they are of Hamitic or African rather than Arab types…” See page 236 in “A Periplus of the Persian Gulf”, Arnold Wilson. The Geographical Journal Vol. 69l, No. 3 March 1927, pp. 235-255. (The Dhufar talked about here are the mountains of Oman.)
1929- Bertram Thomas on the modern remnants of the ancient Qahtan tribes: “…these tribes – with the exception of the Harasis – have a tradition of African origin, the order of their local antiquity being Shahara, Bautahara, Mahra, Qara.” Found in The South Eastern Borderlands of Rub-al Khali, Bertram Thomas vol. 73 (LXXIII) No. 3 March 1929.
1932 – Bertram Thomas also observed individuals from a number of clans in the Yemen a man from a tribe called Mashai’a man is described as “very dark brown” The Shahara are “dark brown” and the Bait Marhum of the Kathiri (Keturah) tribe are similarly described. Found in Anthropological Observations in South Arabia The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 62, (Jan. – Jun., 1932), pp. 83-103 The photos of a Mashai’a man and Shahara (of Sheherazade fame) and Kathiri children, Mahra and Qara can be found in Bertram Thomas books. The Shahara are a clan affiliated with the Mahra. The Mashai’a are those mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions. It has also been written or translated as Maasaai.
2001 – “Mahra is the Arab name for the Bedouin tribes who are different in appearance to other Arabs, having almost beardless faces, fuzzy hair and dark pigmentation – such as the Qarra, Mahra and Harasis… Also on “…the Qarra, Mahra and Harasis with parts of other tribes. The language is derived from the language of the Sabaeans, Minaeans and Himyarites. The Mahra with other Southern Arabian peoples seem aligned to the Hamitic race of north-east Africa… The Mahra are believed to be descended from the Habasha, who colonized Ethiopia in the first millennium BC” p. 250-251, Peoples on the Move by David Phillips, 2001.
Ancient Origins of the Afro-Arabian Qara tribes (also written Qarra, Gara, Kara)
The Qara or Kara claim descent from the Azdites of Kindah kingdom which existed in Central Arabia and the Persian Gulf. The Azd are descendants of Qahtan through Kahlan son of Himyar. They are among those remnants of peoples who claim they came from Africa at a remote period. The dialects of the Qara is related to the pre Arabic dialects of ancient Saba, Himyar and Ethiopia.
1929 – Bertram Thomas describes the Qara or Kara as “the most prosperous tribe of all the Hamitic group, possessing innumerable camels, herds of cattle and the richest frankincense country. They resemble the Bisharin tribe of the Nubian desert. Men of big bone , they have long faces long narrow jaws, noses of a refined shape long curly hair and brown skin.” Quoted on p. 200 in Richmond Palmer’s, The Bornu Sahara ans Sudan 1970 originally published 1936 by John Murray of London. The Qara are actually rather short in stature as well.
2004 On the Qara, “European observers have made much of their physical resemblance to Somalis and Ethiopians, but there is no historical evidence of any connections.” P. 261 J. E. Peterson “Oman’s Diverse Society: Southern Oman”, Middle East Journal Vol. 38, No. 2 Spring 2004.
Claudius Ptolemy mentions the town of “Gerra” in the Geographos (2nd cent CE). Strabo appears to have referred to them as Gerraeans salt traders in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea says they were the Chaldeans pushed from Harran (which was apparently Arabian Hauran) by Nebudchadnezzer. He wrote, “the Gerrhaeans have become the richest of all; and they have a vast equipment of both gold and silver articles, such as couches and tripods and bowls, together with drinking vessels and very costly houses; for doors and wall and ceilings are variegated with ivory and gold and silver set with precious stones.” (Frankincense and Myrrh, A Study of Arabian Incense Trade, Nigel Groom, p. 67).
“The city of Gerrha played a central role in the interchange of commodities of certain regions of the ArabianPeninsula during the reign of the Seleucid King Antioch III (223 – 187 BC) of Syria. Most notable was the frankincense and myrrh of southwestern Arabia in the Yemen and Hadramawt regions. Juba and Pliny refer to the city of Gerrae as Carra as mentioned in his Natural History 1.161-62 an Arabian tribe called Carrae or Carraeans who had the most extensive and fertile agricultural lands in Arabia.
The Qarra or Kara tribe also carry on a salt trade that was one of the hallmarks of the ancient Gerrhaeans or Carrae. Some have tried to relate the name of Carraeans to that of Hagar while others probably more accurately see some correlation with the Korahites of Southwest Arabia who appear to be the Biblical Korah.