Research

The BFSA actively supports research on Arabia through the provision of grants in support of research.
In 2014 the BFSA received an extremely generous donation of over £30,000 from Prof. Valeria Fiorani Piacentini. We are very grateful to her. This very exciting development has allowed the BFSA to develop its research grant scheme and to increase the amount we award, enabling us to support more substantial and varied research projects. Details of the new grants scheme can be found here: www.thebfsa.org/research/grants/
Please see below for details of some of the projects we have supported recently:

2009:  Globalization, the State and Narrative Plurality: historiography in Saudi Arabia.

In 2009 Jörg Matthias Determann was awarded a BFSA research grant to help fund the fieldwork in Saudi Arabia for his dissertation, entitled Globalization, the State and Narrative Plurality: historiography in Saudi Arabia.

In 2013 he was joint winner of the BRISMES Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize for the best PhD dissertation on a Middle Eastern topic. The independent judges awarding the prize said: “This is a work of extraordinary value and scholarly integrity. …The author has made extraordinarily good use of primary materials, assembling an impressive array of local and personal histories that form a more plural and complex picture of the peoples of Saudi Arabia than has often been appreciated.”


2013:  Historical Archaeology in the mudbrick village of Bat

Dr Ruth Young, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester

Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn together make up one of four UNESCO World Heritage sites in Oman, inscribed on the basis of the extraordinary Bronze Age funerary monuments both at Bat and Al-Ayn, and the monumental Bronze Age ‘towers’ at Bat and Al-Khutm. This project explores the creation and reproduction of socio-political power structures and systems within the abandoned village. (Report… )


2013: Establishing a chronology for Holocene climate and environmental change from Mleiha, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Adrian G. Parker, Frank Preusser, Joachim Eberle, Sabah Jasim and Hans-Peter Uerpmann

The Holocene epoch has been punctuated by a series of abrupt climatic events with several phases of hyper-aridity, which have coincided with changes observed in the archaeological record.  This study analyses sediments from geoarchives from the interior of SE Arabia in order to determine and build the past climatic context of the area against which the archaeology can be set. (Report… )


2014: Using L-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar to detect subsurface archaeological remains

Frances Wiig f.wiig@student.unsw.edu.au

Remotely sensed (air and space) imagery has become an important dataset for use in the discovery of archaeological sites and features, and research into past human behaviours.  L-band SAR data can penetrate several metres into dry, homogenous fine-grained materials such as the aeolian sands of the Sahara and Arabian Peninsula. These wavelengths are then reflected (backscattered) off subsurface features providing a picture of previously untraceable paleolandscape or archaeological features. (Report… )


2014: The Qanāt Archaeology and Environment workshop – Durham University

The Qanāt: Archaeology and Environment workshop was held at the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, fron 17 to 19 October 2014.  It brought together archaeologists, water engineers, geographers, and historians to discuss the state of research on qanāt technology across the old world (the Middle East and Central Asia, North Africa, and Southern Europe).  (Report… )


2014: The DISPERSE-Project at the University of York

Dr. Matthew Gregory Meredith-Williams

One of the project’s main aims is to analyse the coastal settlements in Arabia during the early Neolithic. My PhD “Farasan Islands: An Isotope Study” focuses on the over 3000 shell middens on the Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia. They accumulated over a period from 6500 to around 4000 cal BP and their different constellations of sites and sea level suggest a change in the environment as well as exploitation intensity. (Report… )


2016: Imbibing the Past, Living the Modern: The Politics of Time in the Sultanate of Oman.

Amal Sachedina

Since its inception as a nation state in 1970, material forms in the Sultanate of Oman – ranging from old mosques and shari’a manuscripts to restored forts now museumified, national symbols such as the coffee pot or the dagger (khanjar) and archaeological sites – have saturated the landscape, becoming increasingly ubiquitous as part of a standardized public and visual memorialization of the past. But how and why has heritage emerged as a prevalent force in nation building in Oman? My book, Imbibing the Past, Living the Modern: The Politics of Time, History and Religiosity in the Sultanate of Oman addresses this question. (Report… ).


2016: Networking Magan: Investigating the Political Economy of the Omani Interior in the Third Millennium BC

Eli N. Dollarhide, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, New York University.  eli.dollarhide@nyu.edu

The Mapping Magan archaeological survey is working to understand how prehistoric archaeological remains in the area surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bat, Oman, can be used to reconstruct the political and social landscape of the early Bronze Age in the region. This research is combining artifactual and spatial analyses to better understand relationships between different settlements and the thousands of stone tombs that dot the landscape surrounding Bat.  In total, over 480 previously unrecorded archaeological sites were identified in our survey. (Report… )


2016: Early Stone Age Activity and Environment at Wadi Dabsa,
SW Saudi Arabia

Dr Robyn Inglis, Department of Archaeology, University of York.   robyn.inglis@york.ac.uk

Arabia is crucial to understanding global Pleistocene hominin dispersals, yet its rich Early Stone Age (ESA) record is patchily understood. Discovered in 2015, Wadi Dabsa, Asir Province, southwestern Saudi Arabia, in the volcanic fields of the Harrat al Birk, yielded >900 ESA and MSA artefacts associated with tufa carbonate deposits. How are artefacts distributed across the basin? What can this tell us about early hominin behaviour? What is the relationship between the tufa and artefacts? When did the tufa form and what can it tell us about Arabian palaeoenvironments? (Report… )


2016: Petrographic and chemical analyses of Pottery from Masafi

Anne Benoist, Sophie Méry and Steven Karacic

Excavations of the Iron Age sites of Bithnah and Masafi (Emirate of Fujairah) have uncovered several functionally and spatially distinct contexts. Each of these different contexts has provided a distinctive set of vessels. Petrographic and chemical analyses of the pottery commenced in 2017 with financial support from the BFSA. Its aim is to compare the composition of vessels collected in domestic contexts, collective buildings and ritual areas in order to test the possibility that different chaines opératoires produced functionally different vessels for consumption in each of these distinct social spaces. (Report… )


2017: “Writing down the coast”: cultural landscapes of maritime violence in British hydrography of the Persian Gulf 1700–1850

Mick de Ruyter, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, AUSTRALIA. mick.deruyter@flinders.edu.au

This project uses the coastal views, charts and sketches produced by British mariners in the Persian Gulf over the 18th and early 19th centuries to observe changes in watercraft and the cultural landscapes of organised violence. This hydrographic iconography was principally aimed at ensuring the safety of navigation of commercial vessels within the Gulf, but surveyors were progressively more concerned with organised violence over this period. (Report… )


2017: The Diwaniyya in Urban Kuwaiti Society: A Reflection of Socio-Spatial and Diplomatic Realities

Clemens Chay

The diwaniyya is a well-embedded aspect of Kuwaiti culture. Imbued with tribal customs of the past, and taking up communal functions during Kuwait’s golden years as a port city, the diwaniyya today finds itself in an urban environment. Its relevance lies in ensuring the social contract between the Al-Sabah ruling family and Kuwaitis – governance as a “family”. (Report… )


2018: A chronological investigation of palaeoenvironmental change in Wadi Iddayyah, UAE

Gareth W. Preston and Kira Dähling

Arabia is now recognised as an important geographical location with respect to early human demography, with some suggesting that periods of climatic amelioration facilitated important demographic shifts.  Our understanding of climate change during key periods in the Late Pleistocene (e.g. Marine Isotope Stage 3) is based on a handful of securely dated records. This project will generate new data from an unexplored ~30 km section in Wadi Iddayyah, UAE, offering a unique opportunity to study the relationship between climate change and long-term (130 ka) human occupation in the region. (Report… )

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