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Archaeologists Hope to Link Ancient Yemen Temple to Queen of Sheba

Aired September 13, 2000 - 1:26 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: There's also a report today of an intriguing project that a Canadian archaeologist is working on in northern Yemen.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Workers there are uncovering a temple that just may, may have belonged to the Queen of Sheba.

And CTB's Nujma Yaqzan has the story in northern Yemen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NUJMA YAQZAN, CTB REPORTER (voice-over): This is what all the excitement is about: a section of desert in northern Yemen, the site of a 3,000-year-old temple that may hold the answer to the many mysteries of the region.

An international team of researchers headed by University of Calgary archaeologist Dr. Bill Glanzman has begun a complete excavation of the site.

BILL GLANZMAN, ARCHAEOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY: The same level of importance that the Giza pyramids hold for Egypt, this has the potential of holding for the republic of Yemen in its cultural and tourism value.

YAQZAN: Glanzman says, so far, their efforts have been hampered by the wind and sand, but they're being helped along by local residents, and ground-penetrating radar technology is telling them where to dig.

(on camera): Because the size of the site IS not yet known, it's estimated it could take many years before the sanctuary site is completely excavated.

(voice-over): The work is actually a continuation of the excavation of the site that first began in 1951 by American archaeologist Wendell Phillips (ph). He had to give up because of safety concerns.

GLANZMAN: What we have found since are several hundred fragments of other inscriptions that, once they are completely studied and once we have associated the pieces together and see the full text, that we will be able to refine the history of South Arabia to an extent that has never been possible before. So it's almost going to rewrite history of the region.

YAQZAN: That includes inscriptions that detail how animals were regularly sacrificed at the temple.

One of the biggest questions still remains unanswered. The team hopes to find a connection with the legendary Queen of Sheba at the site. She is believed to have reigned in the region 900 years before the birth of Christ.

GLANZMAN: I think we will have to find something with an inscription that mentions her name or mentions, perhaps, King Solomon, some connection like that to prove once and for all that she came from this region.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Archaeologists predict it could take 15 years to complete the excavation. But maybe we'll know more about it prior to 15 years.

WATERS: But stay tuned at any rate.

ALLEN: Yes.

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