Undersøgelser i Kuwait
Nøgleord:Trade route, handels rute, Bahrain, Mesopotamia, mesopotamien, Sa'ad wa Sa'aid, Tell, byhøj, Al-Batin
Investigations in Kuwait
A long-felt desire was fulfilled when in the spring of 1958 the Danish Archeological Expedition was enabled, at the invitation and the expense of the Government of Kuwait, to extend its investigations to the head of the Persian Gulf, to seek there for traces of the routes followed by ancient trade between Bahrain and Mesopotamia. The successfull carryingthrough of the expedition was assured by the interest and goodwill evinced by the Emir of Kuwait, His Highness the Emir Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, by the Minister of Education, His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jabir Al-Sabah, and by the Director of Education, Abdulaziz Hussein. The practical dispositions were arranged by the Deputy Director, Darwish Miqdadi, by the head of the transport and supply department, Ahmed Al-Eisa, and the head of administration, Khalid Al-Musallam, all of the Department of Education, to whom we owe our sincere thanks. During our work we were accommodated either at the Kuwait Secondary School in Shuwaikh, where the Principal, Abdul-Majid Mustafa, and the Vice-Principal, Jamil Saleh, were generous hosts, or at the school in Zor on the island of Failaka, where the teaching staff gave our work continuous assistance and attention. We also received assistance from many sides during our stay in Kuwait and the preparations for our visit. In this connection we express our gratitude to John Muir of the British Council and Tony Bell of Gray, Mackenzie Ltd. The management of the Kuwait Oil Company, through its General Manager, Jordan and Assistant General Manager E. Boaden, gave us permission to roam at will through the oil-fields, where the chief geologist, George Becker, was our guide and gave us valuable information on question of terrain.
Kuwait is the northernmost of the Arab states with seaboard to the Persian Gulf. It has an area of about 6000 sq. miles and is bordered to the west and north by Iraq and to the south by Saudi Arabia and a neutral zone. Of its land areas the large island of Bubian is without archeological interest, as it is of recent formation of alluvial sand from the rivers of Mesopotamia. South of Bubian, at the entrance to the Bay of Kuwait, lies the island of Failaka, with sheltered anchorages for ships and good fresh-water wells, circumstances which suggested in advance that the island had been of importance to the sea-going trade between Ur and Bahrain and in general for prehistoric seafaring in the Gulf, as was later amply demonstrated by our investigations. The mainland area is divided into two by the wide bay, at the southern entrance to which lies the capital, the city of Kuwait with about 180,000 inhabitants. The remaining population, about 70,000 live in smaller towns along the coast or as nomads in black tents scattered over the desert, which in winter provides good pasturage for sheep, goats and camels. From the coast the land rises to a rolling plain, broken by a few crags, but does not reach a height of more than about 900 feet above sea level. The western frontier lies along the wide valley of Al-Batin. In earlier times the prosperity of Kuwait depended upon trade, ship-building and pearl-fishing. Now it is the world's richest oil wells which make the land renowned and provide the basis for an astounding programme of development, with the establishment of schools, hospitals and the university.
Work commenced during the period 2-8 February with a reconnaissance carried out by T. G. Bibby and the writer, partly on the mainland of Kuwait and partly on the island of Failaka at the entrance to the Bay of Kuwait. Our work was greatly facilitated by the comprehensive research, of a topographical, ethnographical and archeological nature, carried out over a generation by H. R. P. Dickson, who is still resident in Kuwait. He received us with great goodwill, and gave us much valuable information and advice. His works on Kuwait 1) will always form the foundation for future culture-historical investigations in the area.
During our traverses of the mainland we found at several sites traces of Stone Age habitation, but it was a visit to the island of Failaka which gave the best prospects for large-scale excavation. At several points pottery from the Third Millennium BC was found, for example near the ancient sanctuary of Al-Khidr at the northwest corner of the island, at Dar Al-Ma'aiyan on the eastern extremity, and at Sa'ad wa Sa'aid on the southwest corner (Fig. 1). When the main expedition party, consisting of Dr. Aage Roussell, E. Albrectsen, M. A., Poul Rovsing Olsen, M. A., and Torben Lundbæk, arrived on 9th February, they set to work immediately on Failaka, where the larger mound at Sa'ad wa Sa'aid proved to be a prehistoric "tell", contemporary with the older levels at Qala'at al-Bahrain. There remains of buildings were excavated and many discoveries made, including ridged pottery of the type known from the Barbar temples 2) and steatite seals (Fig. 3) 3), of which one was double-sided. A smaller mound immediately to the east covered Greek house remains (cf. page 191), while a larger mound further to the east covered a fortified township from the time of Alexander the Great (cf. page 172).
The short time available for investigations on the mainland of Kuwait only permitted a preliminary reconnaissance of the areas where the possibilities of discovering Stone Age remains were most obvious. On the low coastal plain which follows the northern shore of the Bay of Kuwait and inland ends at the steep slopes leading up to the plateau beyond, worked flakes of grey slate were found at several places, but none of them were shaped to forms which allowed of dating. Several of the sites, which are situated on low hills, perhaps originally islands which have been smoothed out by weathering, are suitable for closer investigation. The valley on the western frontier of Kuwait, Al-Batin, was also surveyed, and here at two points worked flint was found. The deep gorges which here run into the plateau, should give possibilities for Palæolithic discoveries. In the depression between the Burqán hills, where Dickson found many flint implements in 1935, which have been identified as Late Palæolithic 4), there is little possibility for profitable excavation, as the widespread oil exploitation there has resulted in a considerable levelling of the terrain, but there still lay a number of blades on the surface which would agree very well with the dating mentioned. From the heights of Burqan can be seen to the southeast in the middle of the desert flats a considerably weathered crag, Gurain, where flint occurs in quantity. On the north side of Gurain large quantities of flint-working swarf could be seen, but among them were found several short worked flints which showed clearly that the flint deposits of the crag had been used in recent times for the manufacture of striking flints for flintlock guns and for lighting flints. However, on the south side of Gurain very coarse flint flakes were found with a coarse retouche. None of them had a so definite form that they could be dated, but a Middle Palæolithic origin is likely. Here, too, excavation might well be profitable.
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