Oldtidsfund i Qatar


  • P.V. Glob


Prehistory, Qatar, forhistorie, survey, rekognoscering, palæolitisk, palaeolithic, mesolithic, flint, mesolitisk, Dobah, Dukhan, Uqlat Manasir, Umm al-Ma, Ras Uwainat Ali, Jebel Jusasiyah, Al-Hamlah, Al-Wusail, arrowhead, pottery, kera


Prehistoric Discoveries in Qatar

Consequent upon the discovery, during a short reconnaissance in 1956, of two flint sites and a group of prehistoric burial-mounds within the sheikhdom of Qatar in the Persian Gulf 1), a more comprehensive investigation was planned for the following year, with the approval of the Ruler of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Ali bin Abdulla Al-Thani. This investigation took place during the period 1st-30th March 1957, and was financed by the Government of Qatar, with a contribution from the Qatar Petroleum Company. The expedition was led by the undersigned, and the remaining members were T. G. Bibby, M. A.; P. Kjærum, M. A.; M. Krustrup, M. A.; V. Nielsen, M. A.; K. R. de Fine Licht, architect, and B. Stürup.

The object of the Danish Archeological Qatar-Expedition was to. survey the area of approximately 10,000 sq. kms. which the sheikhdom comprises, with a view to locating as many prehistoric sites as possible and to making plans for excavation of locations which appeared suitable. The first survey covered the coastal areas from Dobah to the northern extremity of the peninsula, and from there along the west coast to Dukhan. Subsequently the party traversed the southern portion of the area as far as Uqlat Manasir. Finally one of the stone burial-cairns discovered during the northern reconnaissance near Umm al-Ma was excavated.

Discoveries of interest were made at a total of 11 sites, mainly in the neighbourhood of the coast, while flints were also collected from the chipping-floors discovered in 1956 on the west coast near Ras Uwainat Ali, where two new flint sites were also discovered (fig. 2). Thus 11 sites producing worked flints of prehistoric date are now known in Qatar, an area in which no single prehistoric discovery had previously been made. The majority of the sites have, however, as yet produced so few artifacts that it is impossible to attribute them to definite cultures and periods. This is the case for example with the flints collected near the south end of Jebel Jusasiyah and at Uqlat Manasir, as well as those from several sites near Al-Hamlah. From this last-named site came an arrowhead of neolithic type (fig. 3c), while the flint on two of the sites near Ras Uwainat Ali showed the same Middle Palæolithic characteristics as the discoveries along the southwest coast of Bahrain 2). One of the sites in this area, however, was dominated by exceedingly small flakes and chippings, indications of a Mesolithic settlement.

On the opposite side of Qatar a larger Mesolithic settlement was discovered at Al-Wusail near the coast on the southwest side of an isolated rock outcrop, which is crowned by the ruins of a fortress of recent date. A large number of blades and flakes was discovered on the surface, as well as a small number of worked tools. The topsoil is here about 20 cms. deep and contains much worked flint, so that a more detailed investigation here will undoubtedly give good results. The only artifacts found were an arrowhead formed of a little blade, with a point formed by chipping one side of the front end and with a short tang at the end bearing the bulb of percussion, with, above this on both sides, a small notch for binding (fig. 3a); and a fragment of a little thick blade, broken off at both ends and with one side retouched to form a scraper edge (fig. 3b). The remainder of the objects found consisted of poor flakes and blades (fig. 4), together with a large amount of flint chippings derived from the flaking of artifacts. The blades are poor and irregular, 5-6 cms. long, with the exception of a single larger blade, measuring 8.5 cms. (fig. 4e). Two of these are broken off at both ends (fig. 4a), while some micro-blades (fig. 4b) and flakes (fig. 4d) are broken across at the end distant from the bulb of percussion. Three small specimens must be classified as micro-blades (fig. 4c).

On the raised plain somewhat under a kilometer east of Umm al-Ma a cemetery was discovered consisting of about fifty cairns, measuring up to 10 meters in diameter and 1 meter in height. Depressions in the top of several of them showed that they had been subject to robbery at an earlier period, and besides one of these depressions were found sherds of a hard-fired red pottery, as well as a rim-sherd of a shallow alabaster bowl. Shortage of time only permitted the investigation of a single cairn, measuring 6 meters in diameter and 0.6 meters in height. It proved to contain a stone cist with three roofing slabs surrounded by smaller boulders (fig. 5). The cist lay in a north-south direction and was cut down into bedrock. It was 1.9 meters long and contained a skeleton with its head in the northern end, resting on the right side with bent arms and legs. As this grave contained no funerary furnishings of any kind, and as the sherds found by the other cairns are not easily characterised, only a continued investigation can succeed in dating this field of burial mounds. Similar cairns are known from the southernmost of Bahrain's moundfields on the coastal slopes inland from Wasmiya and Mattala, and there probably belong to the latest period of Bahrain's Copper Age.

A rock outcrop in the northwest of Qatar, south of Al-Furaihah, where formerly stone had been quarried for building in the ruined city of Al-Zubara, contained numerous rock­carvings, undoubtedly of very varying date. The outcrop, which stands alone in the otherwise rolling terrain, measures about 350 meters from NE to SW and about 100 meters in the other direction. On its eastern and northeastern sides and on the part of the summit which still survives, many hundreds of cup-marks have been carved, often arranged in paired rows (fig. 7) or grouped in rosettes around a larger depression (fig. 8). The actual summit of the outcrop, measuring about 3 sq. m., is completely covered with cup-marks. The marks vary from 5-23 cms. in diameter and from 2-10 cms. in depth, being most commonly 5 cms. in diameter and 1-3 cms. in depth, and thus corresponding in size to the cup-marks of West and North Europe. One single depression is 50 cms. in diameter and 26 cms. deep. There are in addition several ovals, the largest of which measures 40 x 28 cms. and is 16 cms. deep. At one point the cup-marks are joined together by runnels 3 cms. wide.

In addition to the cup-marks there are about ten footprints, all representing a bare human foot with all the toes carved (fig. 9). They vary from 10-27 cms. in length and, together with certain of the cup-marks, undoubtedly belong to the more recent of the carvings. Several of them can be seen to have been carved subsequent to the stone-quarrying for Zubara and may therefore well be less than two hundred years old. They are all carried out in the usual rock-carving technique, that of hammering with a pointed implement.

One particular design, consisting of an arc bisected by a straight line, occurs in four places (fig. 10). The arcs are 11-15 cms. across and 11-12 cms. high, and the straight lines 10-18 cms. long; both are prick-carved in grooves of about 2 cms. in width.

All these designs must undoubtedly be viewed as evidence of an ancient fertility cult, which has survived in this area up to modern times. Cup-marks have been found in the Barbar temples on Bahrain in levels dated to the middle of the Third Millennium BC, and undoubtedly represent the female sexual characteristic, the depression in which the linga symbol was placed. A pedestal stone for a linga was, for example, found close to the altar complex in the inner temple courtyard at Barbar, and here the depression was connected to a runnel 3), as is so often seen in West European rock-carvings of this type 4). It is possible that the arc and line design described above (fig. 10) is. a special form of the same symbol.

At the southern end of this outcrop bearing the rock carvings a flint site of more modern date was found, a place where flint has been struck in considerable quantities for use in old-fashioned flintlock guns.

Though the discoveries from Qatar are still of limited extent, they nevertheless give glimpses of settlement over a period of 50,000 years, and provide a good basis for continued archeological investigation. That it has been possible in so short a time to enter a series of sites on that portion of the map of the prehistoric world, formerly completely blank, which comprises Qatar, is due to assistance received from many sources. As Regent during the absence of His Highness Sheikh Ali, His Excellency Sheikh Ahmed followed our work with great interest, while the Adviser to the Government, Mr. M. G. Hancock, rendered us once more great assistance. While in Dohah we were hospitably quartered with the Shell Company of Qatar, through the kindness of the General Manager, R. P. R. McGlashan, where A. F. Godfrey made us very comfortable. Our journeys in the desert were greatly helped throughout by the active assistance of the Chief of Police, Commander R. Cochrane, and by his staff, lnspectors Briggs, Smith and Tarling.

We are also very grateful for help in a variety of forms received from the Qatar Petroleum Company through its General Manager, P. R. A. Ensor and through A. Livingstone, and from H. B. M. Political Agent in Qatar, W. Carden. A special word of thanks is due to Sheikh Jasem bin Mohamed bin Jasem AI-Thani for friendship and hospitality in his desert fortress.

P. V. Glob





Glob, P. (1957). Oldtidsfund i Qatar. Kuml, 7(7), 167–178. Hentet fra https://tidsskrift.dk/kuml/article/view/97669