Mecca and Macoraba*


Claudius Ptolemy’s second-century Geography places the name Macoraba in the west of the Arabian Peninsula. There is a consensus in Orientalist scholarship that Macoraba is Mecca, and to a lesser extent that the name derives from an Ancient South Arabian word for “temple.” This paper traces the identification of Macoraba as Mecca back to Samuel Bochart in 1646 and assesses the changing interpretations of Macoraba since then. It concludes that no satisfactory derivation has been proposed to explain the difference between the names Mecca and Macoraba, and argues that the consensus should now be abandoned or more rigorously defended.
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