Saruq al-Hadid (United Arab Emirates), 2017

Saruq al-Hadid

Dates of work: 11 November 2017–29 March 2018

Co-directors: Prof. Piotr Bieliński, archaeologist (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw) (until 31 December 2017) and Iwona Zych, archaeologist (PCMA University of Warsaw)
Field Directors: Dr. Zuzanna Wygnańska (PCMA University of Warsaw), Dr. Łukasz Rutkowski (PCMA UW)
Dubai Municipality representatives: Dr. Mansour Boraik, Yaaqoub Yousif Al Ali and Mahra
Archaeologists: Björn Briewig (independent), Mariusz Kowalewski (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw), Magdalena Ostrowska (PCMA University of Warsaw), Joanna K. Rądkowska (PCMA University of Warsaw), Sidney A. Rempel (independent), Marek Woźniak (PhD Candidate, PCMA University of Warsaw)
Metal expert: Łukasz Zieliński (PhD Candidate, Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)
Personal adornment expert: Dr. Zuzanna Wygnańska, archaeologist (PCMA University of Warsaw)
Lithics expert: Mariusz Kowalewski (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)
Surveyors/archaeologists: Otto Bagi, 3D documentation (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw), Bartosz Wojciechowski (Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Center, University of Warsaw)
Metal conservator: Władysław Weker (State Archaeological Museum, Warsaw)
Registrar: Marta Bajtler and Katarzyna Pawłowska, archaeologists (both independent)
Photographers: Mariusz Kowalewski, archaeologist (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw), Jan Kurzawa (freelance)
Documentalists: Marta Momot and Magdalena Ostrowska (both PCMA University of Warsaw)

The PMSaruq Archaeological Research Project carried out a second season of excavations as part of an international effort organized by the Dubai Municipality (UAE) to study the site of Saruq al-Hadid. The area assigned to the team was extended in order to safely explore four squares (T7, T8, U8 and V8) down to bedrock level, thus establishing a complete stratigraphic record for the Area F sector. The team also took over three squares, U7, V7 and W7, from the German sector, exploring them down to bedrock level from a level left by the German team. A side outcome was the tracing of the extent of modern disturbance in the excavation area, both horizontally and vertically, recreating in a sense the modern archaeological history of the site.

Working with extensive orthophotographic documentation of top plans and sections through the sand fill column, the Project recorded seven phases: 1. first occupational phase corresponding to the Wadi Suq cultural horizon (2000–1800 BC); 2. sand layer blanketing the entire area, culturally sterile; 3. first industrial phase encompassing copper-smelting and potential copper-working (artifacts, half-products, ashes and waste) (1000–800 BC); 4. sand layer corresponding to the desertification of the climate, more varied dune landscape, tentative habitation or workshop location and a local episode of ditch-digging and ultimate ritual offering activity, including the first iron artifacts in the form of a sword and evidence of objects from distant regions, like Luristan across the Gulf (corresponding to the late Iron Age II); 5. first (older) slag coat, representing the second copper-smelting and copper-working industrial phase at the site: ingots, slag and crafts-related artifacts, but demonstrating the changed functionality of this part of the site, which was now used as a waste dump; 6. sand layer engulfing the first slag waste heap, leveling the area, rather sterile culturally, not dateable either in absolute dates or duration; 7. second (younger) slag coat and possible subsidiary layers of slag waste, the last episode of industrial copper-smelting and metal-working, evidencing extensive scavenging of the ancient mound for metal artifacts for remelting (100 BC–AD 800); 8. modern sand dune deposition and modern disturbance.

The results were presented in a paper at the 47th Arab Seminar conference in London in August 2018 (I. Zych, Z. Wygnańska, Ł. Rutkowski, Mansour Boraik, Yaaqoub Youssif Al Ali and J.K. Rądkowska “The site of Saruq al-Hadid (Dubai, UAE): reconstructing an anthropogenic landscape”).

Acknowledgments: Gratefully acknowledged the CEOs, former and present, of the Architecture Heritage and Antiquities Department of the Dubai Municipality, Mr. Rashad Mohammed Rashad and Mr. Ahmed Mahmoud, for the opportunity to work at the site, and to Dr. Mansour Boraik and Mr Yaaqoub Yousif Al Ali for smooth management of fieldwork and team accommodation.

Text: Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 27/1

P. Bieliński: piotr.bielin(at)