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The religious beliefs of the Safaitic Arabians

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posted on 2022-03-28, 15:05 authored by Cassandra Bennett
This dissertation, The Religious Beliefs of the Safaitic Arabians, takes an integrative approach to the study of Safaitic religious beliefs utilising theories and methodologies from both archaeological and anthropological studies of religion. It employs a synthesis of textual and iconographic evidence in order to create an overview of the religious beliefs of the pre-Islamic nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes of modern-day Jordan, southern Syria and north-western Saudi Arabia. The Safaitic inscriptions give us a rare insight into the daily lives of the pre-Islamic Arabians in an era usually termed the age of ignorance. This study involves an intensive analysis of the inscriptions in an effort to determine the religious beliefs. My contribution consists of a critical synthesizing of the available material, both iconographic and textual, and arranging it to show a clear, concise presentation of the inscriptions featuring religious attributes. In the construction of this thesis I first created 2 databases of over 28,000 Safaitic inscriptions. In these databases I broke the inscriptions down into their base elements then tabulated this raw data into statistically relevant tables and figures. These databases recorded all the primary aspects of these inscriptions as well as their geographical locality in order to allow the analysis of any potential geographic religious trends in the worship of the deities mentioned in the Safaitic inscriptions. Following this, the methodology established through a study of the archaeological and anthropological approaches to religion was applied to a detailed and extensive analysis of the raw data extracted from these databases. Previous studies on Safaitic have focused on epigraphy and onomastics yet there has been no recent comprehensive analysis on the religious beliefs. Little has been written about the religious aspects of these inscriptions or the geographical impact of the deities invoked. These are gaps this thesis aims to fill.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Religion and the structure and content of the religious Safaitic inscriptions -- Chapter 3. Analysis of the deities mentioned in the Safaitic inscriptions -- Chapter 4. Iconography and symbolism in the Safaitic inscriptions -- Chapter 5. Conclusion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: 276-302

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ancient History

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Andrew Gillett

Additional Supervisor 1

Victor Ghica


Copyright Cassandra Bennett 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xxiii, 380 pages) colour illustrations, maps

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