Shibam, Old City with Skyscrapers Made of Mud Brick

Shibam, Old Town with Skyscrapers

Shibam is an ancient city in the country of Yemen that has existed since the 2nd century AD. The city is famous for its tall buildings, which are believed to be the oldest.

This city is also known as Shibam Hadramawt because it used to be the seat of government for the Hadramaut kingdom in the 3rd century AD.

Although the city of Shibam has existed since the 2nd century AD. However, the majority of the skyscrapers there were built in the 16th century.

The original inhabitants of this city were the Ibadi Tribe, which was in power until the 15th century. The city is still inhabited by residents to this day, there are around 7,000 residents.

The characteristics of the buildings in this city are still maintained today.

Read also: Monemvasia, a Historic Fortress City Left Over from the Byzantine Era

Buildings made of Stone and Mud Brick

Shibam is one of the oldest and best examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical building construction. This city has the tallest building in the world made of mud brick and stone.

Although made of stone and mud brick, the building structure in this city is strong and has been able to survive until now.

Some buildings in this city are on average more than 30 meters high, with unique constructions. The average building consists of 5–7 floors.

The tall buildings here are the oldest skyscrapers in the world. The skyscrapers here have been around for almost five centuries.

Until now, the buildings in this city are well maintained and renovated when needed.

All forms of renovation to the buildings in this city further clarify the atmosphere of Shibam as an ancient city.

Complicated Town Planning for the Protection of Shibam City

Shibam’s high-rise building construction techniques and complex city planning aim to protect the population from external enemy attacks.

The streets of Shibam were also complicated with narrow lanes, as part of the city’s defense.

Each building will be covered with thick mud to protect it from rain and erosion. In addition, the city is located on a plateau that is high enough to protect people from floods.

Shibam City became the City of Connection

The city of Shibam has been designated by UNESCO as a world-important historical site, especially in the South Yemen region. This city became a major settlement in the southern Arabian Peninsula.

The city of Shibam is also known as the main connecting city between the important old cities in the region, such as San’a, Seiyun, and other cities in the western region of Yemen to the eastern region.

From this city, the relationship of trade interaction with the sea lanes of the Arab community was intertwined with residents in East Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Indonesia.

Read also: Nashtifan, a City with an Ancient Windmill

Jujah and Gabusa, Archaeologists’ Site at Shibam

Near the town of Shibam, there are two archaeological sites, namely Jujah, which is an excavation center for a square stone building.

Another site is Gabusa, where a bronze statue of a lion’s head with Assyrian art was found.


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