Yemen – The Great Dam of Ma’rib (10 Rial Banknote)

Yemen 10 & 100 Rial Banknote – Face and Back
Yemen 10 Rial Banknote back, featuring the great dam of Ma’rib
Yemen 10 rials banknote, back, featuring the great dam of Ma’rib

The Great Dam of Ma’rib was built almost three thousand years ago and is considered one of the great engineering projects of the ancient world.

closeup detail of Yemen 10 Rial Banknote back, featuring The great Dam of Ma’rib
The great Dam of Ma’rib. detail from back of 10 rial banknote. Yemen

The medieval Arab geographer Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī described the great dam of Ma’rib: “It is between three mountains, and the flood waters all flow to the one location, and because of that the water only discharges in one direction; and the ancients blocked that place with hard rocks and lead. The water from springs gathers there as well as floodwater, collecting behind the dam like a sea. Whenever they wanted to they could irrigate their crops from it, by just letting out however much water they needed from sluice gates; once they had used enough they would close the gates again as they pleased.” reference.

closeup detail of Yemen 100 Rial Banknote back, featuring ancient culvert
Ancient culvert and the Shaharah bridge. Detail from back of 100 rial banknote, Yemen

According to Arab tradition, the city Ma’rib was founded by Shem, son of Noah, a thousand years previous. With 1000 miles of coastline on the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, it flourished as a center of trade reaching from the Mediterranean to India. Agriculture flourished in large part due to its amazing irrigation systems consisting of water tunnels in mountains, and dams. Yemen’ spices, frankincense and myrrh, were traded throughout the world. Modern scholarship says the renowned Queen of Sheba came from the kingdom of Saba, centered around the oasis of Ma’rib.

closeup detail of Yemen 10 Rial Banknote front, featuring arabian coffee berry branch
Arabian Coffee berries on a branch, detail from back of 10 rial banknote, Yemen
Yemen 10 Rial Banknote back
Yemen, 10 rial banknote, front. Qubbat Al-Bakiliyah Mosque (Al-Bakiriya, Al-Baqiliyah, al-Bakiriyya) in Sana’a.