Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Himyarites, a historic people of South Arabia, whose domain included the present Yemen (Arabia Felix) and the Hadramaut coastlands eastwards to Oman. The name in its Greek form Homeritce occurs first in Pliny and Ptolemy, both of whom describe them as closely related to the Sabeeans, who are placed in the same region. Later the latter term fell into disuse, while Himyar, that is Ahmar (" red"). was adopted by the early Christian and Arab writers, as the general designation of all the peoples of South Arabia, who in pre-Mohammedan times spoke a Semitic language distinct from and of a more archaic type than the Arabic. The Himyarites and Sabeeans were, in fact, mere branches of the same Semitic race, which probably had its origin in the south-west, Arabian uplands, and spread thence, long before the dawn of history, across the Red Sea, possibly so named from them, into Abyssinia. At a still more remote epoch they migrated northwards through Arabiainto Phoenicia, Canaan, Syria, and Mesopotamia, which regions constitute the original domain of the Semitic: family. That the Himyarites were the original stock and Arabia Felix the cradle of the Semites, seems probable from the fact that their language, still preserved as the liturgical language of the Abyssinian Christians [Geez], is by far the most primitive of all the Semitic tongues.

The genealogies of the Himyarites given by Ibn Khaldun in his History of the Berbers are fanciful, but they serve to show how far the Arabs proper regarded the primitive inhabitants of Yemen as their kinsmen. They are traced in these tables, through Himyar, grandson of Kahtan [Yectan] to the Heber of Genesis x. 24, and are described as the oldest and purest branch of the race, hence called Arab el-Aribah, "Arabs of the Arabs." With the spread of Islam they adopted the language of the Koran - that is, of the Koreish Arabs; and their descendants, the present inhabitants of Yemen, are no longer pure Arabs, but mucfi mixed with black blood through the female slaves imported from Africa during the Mohammedan period. (J. H. Mordtmann and D. H. Muller, Sabdischc Denkmdler, Vienna, 1881; Lay of the Himyarites, edited by W. F. Prideaux, 1880.)