Saturday, 14 April 2012

Archaeologists plan to uncover Doha's past

In a pioneering effort that may throw more light on the origins of Doha, archaeologists are preparing for excavations in the city, but the dig is unlikely to be easy. Urban archaeology is not easy, and Doha being a city teeming with modern constructions, the process will be complicated, say archaeologists.

“It’s complicated, since there are many buildings in the city, finding patches, which are available for digging, will be challenging. The problem with modern buildings is that they ruin the archeology,” Dr Robert Carter, Senior Lecturer, University College of London-Qatar told The Peninsula.

Yet, they are planning to consult historians and look for signs of early occupation in Doha in the early 19th century.

“We need to find places in the central Doha, where the old town was located and dig some holes to look for evidence of earlier occupation. Now the historical understanding of Doha is that it was originally two towns – Bidha, the older town, and Doha. They  eventually grew together,” Dr Carter said.

“If we could get a wide enough excavation we will be happy to find out how people lived at that time, what their international connections were, what they were eating, what they were living in, what their life style and economic situation was,” he said.

As the University College of London-Qatar is scheduled to begin its academic activities in archeology by September, they aim to begin the research about early settlements of Doha, through the Qatar National Research Fund.

“We need to get a training dig, since we need to teach students about archeology materials and analysis so we hope to get a site preferably close to Doha or in Doha. It will be very interesting to find the origins of Doha and historical research with some oral history,” said Dr Carter.

“We have a plan and we are pushing a research application to find funding to do this,” he said.

The archeology research will look for foundations of buildings from the early 20th century and beneath expecting to find signs of early occupation in Doha in the early 19th century.

People had been living in Doha even in the early 18th century according to British soldiers who were mapping gulf that time.

“The old town area was around the Souq Waqif or the Khabeeb mosque area. So, that’s going to be difficult. However, they recently cleared the area near the mosque which again had a traditional architecture in it, so the archeology should survive underneath,” said Dr Carter.

“I have seen some of the holes they have been digging and putting pipes, I can see the archeology there,” he said.

A large area of modern Doha is being reclaimed form the sea, however, by examining aeriel photographs from the 1940s the researchers will distinguish the original, recent extensions and reclaimed lands.

Once archeological evidence are found the team will conduct lots of research and special studies on the food remains, ceramics, architecture, plaster used in making buildings. They will then decide on the appropriate action to be taken to do with the findings.

“In the long term we will integrate our discoveries with the historical research going on in parallel, oral testimonies about earlier life in Doha,” said Dr Carter. Finally a publication through open access online outlet will be published based on large findings of the origins of Doha.

(Source: The Peninsula)

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