The Ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy identified South Arabia – modern Yemen – as Eudaimon Arabia, meaning “fortunate Arabia” or “happy Arabia”, as a result of its wealth. This land flourished with trade, especially of frankincense and myrrh, but exchanges of small copper or bronze artefacts, like vessels, lamps or animal figurines were also common.
Ancient South Arabia is a geographical label referring to a region occupied by six semitic kingdoms: Sabaʼ, Qatabān, Ma‘īn, Ḥaḍramawt, the Kingdom of Awsan, and the Himyarite Kingdom. The territory of these kingdoms corresponds to a modern-day area including Yemen, and extending into Oman, north to the Arabian oasis of Dedan, to Ethiopia, and even as far along as the East African Coast, into modern Tanzania.
Animals occupied a prominent place in ancient art across a number of civilisations and across a variety of media, including painting, pottery, and jewellery. Some animals were venerated, whilst others were sacrificed. Their depiction is thus endowed with significance in several contexts: in religious rituals, as mythical creatures, and as incarnations or symbols of gods and goddesses.