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Archaeology students join Origins of Doha excavations

11 December 2013

Origins of Doha excavation

Students from the Archaeology of the Arab and Islamic World MA have joined archaeologists from UCL and Qatar Museums Authority in a round of excavations in the heart of downtown Doha, as part of the UCL Origins of Doha Project.

The team of excavators are examining open ground next to the Qubib Mosque adjacent to Souq Waqif. The work of The Origins of Doha Project is a Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) initiative.

The excavations aim to explore the foundation of Doha, its growth and florescence as one of the major pearl fishing towns of the Gulf, and its transformation to a modern city. Historical sources provide very little information on the nature of the town and the experiences of its people, but archaeology is able to fill these gaps and provide a colourful picture of the daily lives of the men, women and children who inhabited the city from its earliest days.

This will be the first extensive urban excavation in Qatar, and indeed the first major urban excavation in the Gulf. The site is under development as a future Q-Rail station, making the recovery of archaeological remains in the area extremely important. It is thanks to collaboration between QMA and Q-Rail that the excavations are able to take place.

Dr Robert Carter, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at UCL Qatar and director of the Origins of Doha Project said "Few people realise that the past still lies beneath their feet in many parts of the centre of Doha. We have a wonderful opportunity to investigate this before it is destroyed for ever. We are expecting to gain insights into town life during the last couple of centuries, but who knows what we will find? Archaeology is full of surprises."

Initial investigations outside the Qubib Mosque have already revealed buildings relating to the last phase of traditional housing in the area (around the mid 20th century), and older remains will be preserved below. Archaeologists from QMA and the Origins project will continue to excavate until mid-January.