Qumayrah Valley (Oman), 2017

Qumayrah Valley – The prehistoric sub-project, part of the Omani–Polish Qumayrah Valley Project

Dates of work: 4 November–16 December 2017

Team

Project Director: Prof. Piotr Bieliński (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)

MHC representative: Sulaiman al-Jabri (Department of Excavations and Archaeological Studies, Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Sultanate of Oman)

Neolilthic Sub-Project Director: Dr. Marcin Białowarczuk (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)
Umm an-Nar cemetery Sub-Project Director: Dr. Łukasz Rutkowski (PCMA UW)
Archaeologists: Dorota Bielińska (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences), Marta Momot, archaeologist (PCMA University of Warsaw), Aleksandra Oleksiak (independent), Dr. Agnieszka Pieńkowska (PCMA University of Warsaw), Andrzej Reiche (independent), Agnieszka Szymczak (PCMA University of Warsaw)
Documentalist: Marek Puszkarski (PCMA University of Warsaw)
Photographer: Adam Oleksiak (freelance)
Surveyors: Magdalena Antos and Otto Bagi (both freelance)
Student-trainee: Anna Graczyk (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)

The team from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw, continued research on sites QA 1 (Umm an-Nar cemetery), QA 2 (Neolithic encampment) and QA 3 (Bronze/Iron Age settlement), located in the vicinity of the village of Al-Ayn Bani Saida in the southern part of Qumayrah valley. An extensive survey of a spacious Iron Age rural settlement (site QA 21 south of QA 3) was initiated.

At least three main phases of occupation were identified at the settlement of QA 3. The presence of Early Bronze Age (Umm an-Nar period) structures was recorded under Iron Age buildings in the middle of the site and a late Islamic hamlet of scattered stone cubicles. The Umm an-Nar period structures are apparently related to a huge stone tower that is still visible today on the northern fringes of the site.

At the burial site QA 1, the team continued exploration of the northwestern quarter of tomb QA 1-1 (Locus 1), that is, one of the four chambers of the collective sepulcher, and started investigation of the southeastern quarter (Locus 3). This year a layer containing remains of human skeletons was reached and excavated in both chambers. The exploration of this burial layer yielded a fairly rich collection of vessels made of steatite/chlorite.

The Neolithic leg of the team conducted investigations of previously discovered lithic sites in the vicinity of Al-Ayn village. Testing was conducted at three open campsites codenamed Qumayrah-Ayn (QA) 2, QA 6 and QA 12. The investigations provided new evidence of intensive Stone Age settlement of the Qumayrah Valley (also known as Wadi Fajj). The data, comprising lithic tools and some shell and stone beads, indicate that the occupation of these sites should be dated to various stages of the Neolithic period.

Acknowledgments

Thanks are due to Dr. Sultan Saif Nasser Al-Bakri, Director of Archaeology in the Ministry of Heritage and Culture of Oman, and Mr. Sulaiman Al-Jabri of the Department of Archaeology and Excavations, Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Sultanate of Oman, Bat office, for their help and support for the project, as well as the local authorities for their kind interest and for popularizing the project’s results and archaeological knowledge among the local community.