Excavations shed new light on Ruwaydah history

19/2/11 .- http://www.archaeologynews.org

Marking a turning point in the ongoing excavations at Qatar’s historic site of Ruwaydah, a team of expert archaeologists has evidence to believe a medieval origin for the site, possibly the 12th century.

“This is the important change from the first year of excavations,” Dr Andrew Petersen (director of research Islamic Archaeology, School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David) told Gulf Times.
The excavations at Ruwaydah are conducted under the Wales Qatar Archaeological Project as part of the Qatar Islamic Archaeology and Heritage Projects run in collaboration with the Qatar Museums Authority and the University of Copenhagen.
Ruwaydah is a large Islamic period site stretching over an area of more than 2km along the beach of a shallow bay on the northern tip of Qatar and about half a kilometre inland.
The site comprises at least seven discrete areas including an extensive prehistoric component. Dr Petersen and his team conducted their first season of archaeological excavation and survey from January to March 2009.
“Last year we moved to another site and this year we have come back to Ruwaydah and continuing to work in the same area that we worked before, on the fort which is the central feature of the site,” Dr Petersen explained.
The fort, which is the most visible feature of the site, is divided into four separate courtyards, according to a paper published about the first season of excavations and presented at the Seminar for Arabian Studies in London in July 2009.
Within the fort there is a kind of palace, and since this is the only residential area, the experts think it is sort of some very important house.
“We have started working there, and got what appears to be a range of rooms around a courtyard and including a sort of open area which seems to have had columns or pillars around it,” Dr Petersen revealed.
Preliminary indications are that Ruwaydah was inhabited from medieval to the early modern period. The excavations so far confirm that the site was abandoned after 1750 and the inhabitants possibly moved to Zubarah.
“Most of the materials we found are dated from 1700 and we also located a few pieces of Chinese pottery dating possibly from the 12th to 13th century,” he said.
There is also medieval (from about the 10th century to about the 16th century) pottery from Qatar, and this is significant given that there is nothing much from that period that has been excavated.
“We have three people looking at the finds in the pottery and over the next year we will work out actually what the ceramics looked like from that period. At the moment we don’t really know,” he said.
The University of Wales Trinity Saint David team is scheduled to work at Ruwaydah until the end of March beyond which weather would get hot.
“We will be resuming in November. In 2012 we should be able to get a clearer picture of the site,” Dr Petersen added.

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