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Professor of Languages and Cultures of Ancient Arabia. My main research topics are :

  • Religious Landscape and Sacred Ground
  • Territories and borders of Arabian tribes in North Arabia Peninsula based on epigraphic documents

My comparative work within Arabic involves ancient Arabic texts and classical Arabic texts. I work on ancient texts dated form pre-Islamic periods, engraved on rocks and blocs (form the 5th century BC to 8th century AD). I am interested in all linguistic aspects of ancient Arabic languages and mainly the input of Archaeology for better understanding of the society. The materials are collected through annual fieldwork in wādī Ramm (Jordan) and in Kilwa (Saudi Arabia). French Ministry for Foreign Affairs support those tow project and provide and funding (since 1994 for wādī Ramm and 2009 for Kilwa).

The fieldwork lead me to the interrogation about the reusing of ancient material, with the help of new technologies. Thus, throw the project StorMer, funded by LabexMed, I explore, with colleagues who comes form different scientific horizon, the traditional rainfall water and the social construction. We try to develop a pilot for improving traditional system as a solution to access to water, in non urban region in Mediterranean basin (

The material collected during 20 years are shared in OpenAccess thanks to the collaborative platform ( with the financial support for Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region, LabexMed (Aix-Marseille University), IREMAM (UMR 7310) and French Embassy in Saudi Arabia

 Current Research Projects

1. Religious landscape and sacred land, the relationship between territory and worship in Kilwa (Saudi Arabia, 7th - 11th c.) (2008-ongoing)

Kilwa is a relatively dense agglomeration with buildings of varying sizes that seem to be a laura. The complex also includes two buildings of worship: a church and a chapel, and buildings for supplies, as well as gardens. The research, which combines archaeological excavations with geospatial analysis, has revealed a system of natural resource management, which is very effective, to the point of cultivating fruit trees that are difficult to envisage in such an arid environment, such as peach trees.

The presence of this monastery, which is unique in the Arabian Peninsula, is not very surprising, since before the rise of Islam, Christian thought had penetrated the Arabian Peninsula, with clear references to Christian rituals and traditions, especially in the poetry of the Jahiliya. Al-Ḥira, in Iraq, became a centre of monasticism in the East in the 5th and 6th centuries, following the massive arrival of Syrian monks after the death of Justinian I (November 565). Following this event, many Arab tribes converted to Christianity at that time. 

2. Landscape archaeology and social dynamics at Diriyah (Saudi Arabia) (2020-ongoing)

The development of the city of Diriyah as a historical and cultural epicentre of Saudi Arabia requires large-scale urban development, of which cultural structures are the backbone. 

The aim is to study is how peoples developed and exploited the environment around them in the past. This multi-disciplinary project uses prehistoric, classical, and medieval archaeology to study the history of Diriyah.

Open Science and digital humanity: MirCap (2017-2020)

MirCap project is proudly a part of the French national plan for Open Access Science. With the aim of “democratizing access to knowledge, useful for research, training, economy and society”, the MIRCAP project offers a collection of more than 20 years of a large set of data from two major projects in Jordan (Wadi Rum) and Saudi Arabia (Kilwa).

This Project was awarded in the call for projects of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region.

Seeking to bring public-financed research out of the restricted sphere of closed databases, the platform disseminates research funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development in tandem with the Service of Cooperation and Cultural Action and headed by Professor Saba Fares.

The data seeks to tend to the gaps in study of pre-Islamic Arabia and its geo-climatic environment. The information on this platform addresses a number of issues and as such tend to both ecological and historical studies as well as understandings of contemporary social issues such as population displacement. It provides an analysis of ancient texts, language, the change in Arabic dialect in the region. Locating places with an abundance of water provided insight into the changing movements of the ancient nomadic populations. As such, a unique nexus of social sciences versus hard sciences is presented here. However, critically, this platform has been created in order to share this information widely and allow researchers to make use of this data in their own work. It is the main goal of this platform to provide intricate information that can be used internationally by scientists, social scientists, and the curious individual alike. This open-access platform is also geared as a contribution to national French efforts to disseminate information widely for the general public, justly, with no cost.  

This project is the awarded from of the PACA Region’s call for tenders which is part of the 2015-2020 State-Region Plan Contract which “sets the course for State and Regional action for the next six years in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur”. 


Recently closed research project (2017-2018)

STORMER : Traditional rainwater harvesting system: a sustainable solution for a non-urban population in the Mediterranean 

This Project was awarded in the call for projects Amorces - Ateliers Thématiques de Recherche Interdisciplinaires by LabexMed, a laboratory of excellence under the A*MIDEX university foundation, which brings together 16 Aix-Marseille mixed research units in the human and social sciences ( and

This project proposes to carry out a collective reflection on traditional hydraulic systems for rainwater harvesting in the Mediterranean basin, one of the regions where the population is most affected by climate change and where natural water resources are lacking (no river, few springs). The project aims to study, with a diachronic and interdisciplinary approach, the resilience of the population around this basin in a context of aridification. Our project focuses on "rain-dependent" regions and populations.

From Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan, we are interested in :

  1. The diversity of the devices, both tangible and intangible, that societies have put in place throughout their history to cope with drought: rainwater harvesting facilities, sacred investments of these facilities and popular beliefs related to the environment (language, religion)
  2. Socio-economic construction around hydraulic installations, delimitation of territories, regulation of access and exploitation.
  3. Conflicts and political issues related to popular hydraulic structures.

Histoire et Cultures de l'Antiquité et du Moyen Âge   

Journal articles5 documents

  • Saba Farès, Jérôme Norris. The Wadi Ramm project : preliminary report on the 2014 season. Annual of the Departement of Antiquities of Jordan (ADAJ), 2017, 58. ⟨halshs-02513168⟩
  • Saba Farès. Christian monasticism on the eve of Islam: Kilwa (Saudi Arabia) - new evidence. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, Wiley, 2011, 22 (2), pp.243 - 252. ⟨10.1111/j.1600-0471.2011.00335.x⟩. ⟨halshs-01728349⟩
  • Saba Farès. L’inscription arabe de Kilwa: nouvelle lecture. Semitica et Classica, Brepols Publishers, 2010, 3, pp.241 - 248. ⟨10.1484/J.SEC.1.100941⟩. ⟨halshs-01728353⟩
  • Saba Farès. Les femmes prêtresses dans les religions arabes préislamiques : le cas des Liḥyānites.. Topoi Orient - Occident, Lyon : Association des amis de la Bibliothèque Salomon Reinach, 2009. ⟨hal-01736820⟩
  • Saba Farès. La représentation de la main dans les gravures rupestres. Journal of Epigraphy and Rock drawings, 2008, pp.53-67. ⟨halshs-00497376⟩

Conference papers10 documents

  • Saba Farès, Charles Kraemer. Old Material for modern futur. The Fifth National Built Heritage Forum, SCTH - Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage, Nov 2015, al-Qassim, Saudi Arabia. ⟨hal-01736845⟩
  • Saba Farès. Réseau hydraulique de la Palmyrène. Palmyre mérite notre attention, al-Baas University, Dec 2015, Homs, Syria. ⟨hal-01736849⟩
  • Saba Farès. Al Ḍumayr : un patrimoine culturel oublié. conférences du Centre Culturel Syrien à Paris, May 2014, Paris, France. ⟨hal-01736893⟩
  • Saba Farès, Joseph Dichy. Qahwa/café : étymologie, pratiques sociales et symboliques. Thé et café. Les représentations culturelles dans les langues et les pratiques, Centre de recherche en terminologie et traduction (CRTT-Université Lumière-Lyon 2), Oct 2013, Lyon, France. ⟨hal-01736850⟩
  • Saba Farès. Marelles et ‘awalé : représentations figurées et jeux gravés sur les rochers du Wadi Ramm. Jeux et jouets au Moyen Âge en terre d’islam, GREMMO 5192; CIHAM – UMR 5648, Mar 2013, Lyon, France. ⟨hal-01736857⟩
  • Saba Farès. Réforme linguistique islamique : innovation scripturale de la langue arabe.. Le contexte de naissance de l’écriture arabe : écrits et écritures araméennes et arabes au 1er millénaire après J.-C., Apr 2013, Paris, France. ⟨halshs-01731005⟩
  • Saba Farès. Communauté monastique chrétienne en Transjordanie méridionale : l’église de Kilwa. Les églises syriaques. Xe table-ronde de la Société d’études syriaques, Apr 2012, Paris, France. ⟨hal-01736834⟩
  • Saba Farès. Les femmes prêtresses dans les religions arabes préislamiques : le cas des Liḥyānites. emmes, cultures et sociétés dans les civilisations méditerranéennes et Proche-Orientales de l’Antiquité, Nov 2007, Lyon, France. ⟨hal-01736822⟩
  • Saba Farès. Survey and Excavations at Huḍayb al-Rīḥ in wādī Ramm: From the Bronze Age to the Abbasid period. American Society for Oriental Research annual Meeting, American Society for Oriental Research, Nov 2006, Washington DC, United States. ⟨hal-01736867⟩
  • Saba Farès-Drappeau. Recherches épigraphiques et archéologiques en Jordanie du Sud. Les rencotnres de l'Association Franco-Syrienne, l'Association Franco-Syrienne, May 2002, Lyon, France. ⟨hal-01736877⟩

Books1 document

  • Saba Farès, Yves Gleize, Yann Callot, Maël Crépy, Patrick Ferreira, et al.. Kilwa: The ḥima system in the eve of Islam. PUN- Editions Universitaires de Lorraine. In press, Gérard Giuliato (Archéologie, Espaces, Patrimoines). ⟨halshs-02513207⟩

Book sections5 documents

  • Saba Farès. Résultats préliminaires des prospections et des fouilles archéologiques à wādī Ramm. Saba Farès. Des déserts et des hommes : Wādi Ramm, Jordanie : histoire économique, religieuse, sociale et environnementale : actes du colloque international à Wādī Ramm, les 11,12 et 13 novembre 2011, 52, A.D.R.A.; De Boccard, p. 11-77, 2013, Études anciennes, 978-2-913667-36-5. ⟨hal-01488957⟩
  • Saba Farès. Communauté monastique chrétienne en Transjordanie méridionale : l’église de Kilwa. Françoise Briquel-Chatonnet. Les églises en monde syriaque, Geuthner, p. 225-236, 2013, 978-2-7053-3886-2. ⟨hal-01488452⟩
  • Saba Farès. Umm Daraj et al-Kharaza : les barrages antiques au service des nomades d’aujourd’hui. Saba Farès. Des déserts et des hommes : Wādi Ramm, Jordanie : histoire économique, religieuse, sociale et environnementale : actes du colloque international à Wādī Ramm, les 11,12 et 13 novembre 2011, 52, A.D.R.A.; De Boccard, pp. 227-260, 2013, Études anciennes, 978-2-913667-36-5. ⟨hal-01488959⟩
  • Jean-Francois Hullo, Pierre Grussenmeyer, Saba Farès. Photogrammetry and dense stereo matching approach applied to the documentation of The cultural heritage site of Kilwa (Saudi Arabia). Actes of 22nd CIPA Symposium, October 11-15, 2009, Kyoto, Japan, pp.11-15, 2010. ⟨halshs-01736927⟩
  • Saba Farès. Les femmes prêtresses dans les religions arabes préislamiques : le cas des liḥyanites. Topoi Orient et Occident. Femmes, cultures et sociétés dans les civilisations méditerranéennes et proche-orientales de l'Antiquité, 10, De Boccard, pp.183-195, 2009. ⟨halshs-00497373⟩

Directions of work or proceedings2 documents

  • Saba Farès. Wādi Ramm, Jordan: Economic, Religious, Social and Environmental History: Proceedings of the International Symposium at Wādī Ramm. Saba Farès. Man and the Desert: The First Multidisciplinary Conference on the Natural and Cultural History of Wadi Rum (Jordan), Nov 2011, Wadi Ramm, Jordan. 52, De Boccard, 2013, Études anciennes. ⟨hal-02542917⟩
  • Saba Farès, Laurence Denooz. Femme et féminisme dans les littératures méditerranéennes et arabe. ADRA; Association pour la diffusion de la recherche sur l'Antiquité. Femmes dans la littérature, France. 45, De Broccard, pp.240, 2010, Etudes anciennes, 978-2-913667-27-9. ⟨hal-01346320⟩