The North-central city of Ma'rib, developed, at its earliest, as a center within the pre-Islamic civilization of Saba' (950-115 B.C.E). Renowned for its fertile oasis, the ancient city of Ma'rib, once an important caravan route linking the Mediterranean world and the Arabian Peninsula, has been referred to as the "Paris of the ancient world." Such routes were essential to the development of trading monopolies in the region, particularly of frankincense and myrrh.

Among the city's ancient structures was the Ma'rib Dam (referred to as Wadi Saba, in antiquity), a five hundred and fifty meter stone construction, responsible for the irrigation of approximately four thousand acres of land, and the region's agricultural productivity. Built by the early Sabeans, the dam was modified by subsequent generations of Sabean and Himyarites until its destruction, estimated to have occurred from environmental incidents sometime in the seventh century. Ma'rib's stone citadel, also built in the Sabean period, has been noted for its well preserved pre-Islamic inscriptions, though it suffered significant damage through the course of the Yemeni Civil War from 1962-70.

As in its ancient history, contemporary architecture in Ma'rib relies heavily on stone masonry, much of which has been taken from and developed upon preexisting structures.

"Maʾrib." Encyclopædia Britannica (September 2014): Research Starters, EBSCOhost (accessed June 16, 2016).
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