Tuesday, February 09, 2010

7th Century village discovered near Persian Gulf

A 7th century village has been unearthed in the eastern Saudi Arabia near the Persian Gulf, according to the country's Supreme Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.

Researchers say the village has been dated to the early Muslim era. “From the materials that we have discovered at the site, such as ceramic pottery and other artifacts, it is quite easy to ascertain the period to which they belong,” said Dr. Ali I. Al-Ghabban, deputy secretary-general for antiquities and museums.

He showed all the artifacts that have been recovered from the area so far. They include clay utensils, pottery with intricate inscriptions, a highly rusted and broken pair of scissors, seashells and iron bars.

The site is located behind the headquarters of the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry on a parcel being developed as a contractor training center by Saudi Aramco, which holds title to the land.

“The Department of Antiquities has known about this site for more than 30 years. We knew about this in 1977, but the actual excavation commenced only three months ago. We are carrying out this exercise in cooperation with Saudi Aramco,” Al-Ghabban told Arab News. “We undertake excavations when all elements are in place. Now was the best time to work on this site, and so we did.”

Perhaps crude by today’s standards, Al-Ghabban said the community was well planned.

“This is an elaborate village compound. So far, we have discovered about 20 houses. We hope to discover more. These are separate houses, and each house has four to five rooms. What is common to these houses is that there is a special room for conserving dates. The floors of the rooms where dates are said to have been stored are in the form of furrows. Those early people used to keep dates here and then collect the juice from these dates through the hardened furrows.”

Also, in each cluster there is a well. “So far, five wells have been discovered. We don’t know if they still contain water, but we will at a later stage.”

Al-Ghabban said there was no mention of this village in any history book. “Nothing is mentioned anywhere. We will do more research, and when we have enough interesting information, we will publish it.”

Although foreign universities and museums often take part in Saudi archaeological explorations, Al-Ghabban said this was strictly a Saudi dig. “The Saudis are highly qualified and able to do the job,” Al-Ghabban said of the team. “We don’t have any international collaboration at this site, though there are sites in the Kingdom where international archaeologists are involved in field work.”