IOS RAS

Russian mission in the Republic of Yemen

Report of V. V. Naumkin "Expedition to Yemen to Socotra island"

The mission has been working since 1983. Organizer: Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Head: Doctor of History Sedov A.V.

The head of the Socotrian detachment: Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor V.V. Naumkin

The work of the Russian Integrated Mission in the Republic of Yemen is carried out on the basis of the General Agreement signed on November 12, 2007 in Sana’a between the General Organization of Antiquities and Museums (G.O.A.M.) and the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IOS RAS). The scientific program of the expedition is to conduct archaeological, ethnographic and linguistic research on the island of Socotra.


November 19, 2013

Russian mission in the Republic of Yemen, field season 2013

Mission has been working since 1983. Organizer: Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Leader: Dr. Sedov A.V. The head of the Socotrian detachment: Doctor of History, Professor Naumkin V.V.

The work of the Russian Integrated Mission in the Republic of Yemen was continued on the basis of the General Agreement signed on November 12, 2007 in Sana’a between the General Organization of Antiquities and Museums (G.O.A.M.) and the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IOS RAS). The total duration of the expedition is from 1st to 19th November 2013.

In accordance with the scientific program of the mission, coordinated with G.O.A.M., linguistic and archaeological research was conducted on the island of Socotra.
Field work began on November 4 and ended on November 18, 2013.

The organization and field work of the mission was attended by Dr. A.V. Sedov, Head of the Expedition (Institute of Oriental Studies, RAS, Moscow), Corresponding Member. RAS, Dr. V.V. Naumkin (Institute of Oriental Studies, RAS, Moscow), L.E. Kogan (Institute of Oriental Studies, RAS, Moscow), D.V. Cherkashin (RSUH, Moscow), V.M. Melnik (coordinator of the project “Socotra - Southern Plateau”), Abd-ut-Tawab al-Mashraqi (inspector GOAM, San'a), Ahmad Said al-Arkabi (inspector GOAM, Hadibo).

The Russian Integrated Mission of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the Republic of Yemen continued research on the island of Socotra, focusing on the archaeological survey of the central and southern areas of the island (illustration), as well as on the continuation of linguistic research.

Linguistic and folklore studies in Socotra during the field season of 2013 were conducted in the following main areas.

1. Collection and analysis of texts of the second volume of the “Case of Socotran folklore”. The creation of the multi-volume edition of the Corpus of Soqotri Oral Literature is one of the main directions of the expedition's work. Currently, the first volume of the Corpus is in print at the Dutch publishing house Brill, so the project participants were able to concentrate on collecting and analyzing 30 texts scheduled for publication as part of the second volume. Among the texts included in the second volume are both texts of folklore content in the strict sense of the word, and ethnographic records (“Preparation of dairy products”, “Drying meat”, “Planting a palm grove”, “Making a leather bucket” and others). Intermediate position is occupied by texts of a memoir character (“How the Daarkho tribe arose,” “How the thief was punished in the old days”). Among the folklore texts, archaic poetic compositions, interesting not only from literary, but also religious, cultural and historical points of view (possible reminiscences of pre-Islamic monotheistic and polytheistic religious ideas), are of the greatest interest. All collected texts, written both in Latin transcription and in Socotra script based on Arabic script, are provided with detailed grammatical, lexical and real commentary. After compiling a detailed glossary for them, the second volume of the Corpus will be basically ready for publication.

2. Studies on the verb morphology of the Socotrian language. During the field season of 2013, the earlier begun work was continued on the systematic description of the verb morphology of the Socotrian language - one of the richest and most archaic verbal systems of the seven-lingual world. In previous years, the mission participants collected and analyzed a database of 384 verbs of the main breed (about a third of them are “new” lexemes, previously unknown to Semitologist linguists). Based on this material, two lengthy articles were written in which the morphology of the Socotrian verb of the strong type in the main breed was fully described. In 2013, this base was replenished with 150 occurrences for verbs in intense, passive-reflexive and causative-passive-reflexive rocks, which were comprehensively analyzed both in terms of flexion and in terms of allomorphies of the foundations. It is assumed that after the final analysis, the results will be published as a scientific article in the journal Zeitschrift für Arabische Linguistik.

3. "Socotran lexical archive". In 2010, the mission participants initiated the serial publication of The Soqotri Lexical Archive. Each issue of the “Archive” consists of 60 words of the Socotran language, newly recorded by domestic experts and absent from previously published sources on the Socotrian language. Each lexeme is accompanied by basic grammatical characteristics, lexical examples, illustrating the basic shades of its meaning, as well as etymological voices from other Semitic languages. During the 2013 season, the second and third editions of the “Archive” were compiled, which is published.