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Dr Robert Carter addresses Qatar Natural History Group

12 February 2012

Dr Robert Carter



Dr Robert Carter, Senior Lecturer in Arab Archaeology at UCL Qatar, has given a presentation to the Qatar Natural History group entitled ‘Pearls and the Making of the Arabian Gulf’.

Dr Carter explored the role of pearling in the Gulf region over the last 7,000 years before an audience of 150 people. An Archaeologist with over 20 years experience in the Gulf, Dr Carter is soon to publish a book on the history of pearling in the Gulf, sponsored by leading Qatari businessman Hussein Alfardan.

“The first written records of Qatar as a source of pearls are in the 10th and 11th centuries AD" said Dr Carter. "By the 14th century, the Gulf was doing a thriving trade in pearls, exporting to as far away as China, where pearls were highly prized. But it was not until the 18th century that Arab tribes founded the main pearling towns throughout the Gulf, many of which survive as state capitals to this day" he added.  Dr Carter explored the often harsh conditions faced by pearl divers in the distant past, with many living on crowded boats for months at a time. A lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables meant that scurvy was rampant.

Qatar Natural History Group was founded more than 30 years ago with the aim of bringing together those with an interest in the natural history of Qatar and the Gulf. The group has an international membership, holds monthly gatherings and offers regular field trips and rambles for its members. Recent visits have included Iran and Yemen, and have been as far afield as Vietnam.