Guillaume Gernez (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
How Eveha Participates
The 2017 campaign lasted four weeks, from January 5th to February 2nd. Three seperate facilities have been uncovered on the Mudhmar East site.
Building 1, mesuring 15 m long, is the largest building of the Mudhmar East complex. Facing east-west, it was built on the side of the Jabal Mudhmar in blocks of cut stoneware and clay bricks.
The plan includes seven distinct spaces, five of which are defined rooms. The excavation of this building was completed during the 2016 campaign. The building, and the associated remains, are exceptional. It might have been a frequent gathering place for probably nomad people of the Iron Age. Its geographical and topographical position makes it a strategic place.
Building 2 is a rectangular structure facing north-east/south-west. It measured 6 x 8 m, that is 48 m2 on the ground.
At the end of the 20016 campaign, external walls were clearly identified, but not the internal structure made of an important thick layer of large blocks (diameter : 40 to 80 cm) of local limestone.
The 2017 campaign helped understanding this stone level as a very likely sealing layer. What is more, after dismantling the blocks, an other building on planted polesposts appeared underneath.
The 13 poleposts form a coherent plan on the ground. Six of them are located on the outside, four of which face each other and have strong anchorage depths (greatermore than 70 cm), as well as large wedge blocks. These poleposts clearly had a retaining role in the building’s architecture.
The seven other poleposts were centred in the inner part of the building. Because they were not as deeply anchored (between 40 toand 50 cm deep), it is not possible to say if they were elements supporting a frame (or any cover of perishable material) or simply upright poleposts with non-architectural (“totemic”?) utility.
The restricted area delimited in the center by the poleposts plus the restricted circulation path between them exclude the hypothesis of a dwelling. To understand the function of this building, further studies will have be necessary, as well as comparisons with other buildings in this cultural area.
The upper layer of Building 2 delivered ceramics, animal bones and copper objects from the Iron Age. A cylinder seal, of Assyrian inspiration (ca. 910-610 BC) was discovered in the upper part of one of the poleposts filling of the wooden building. This exceptional discovery suggests a datation at the Iron Age. However, this object was located on the top of the pole st-hole filling and not deep in it: it could thus have been brought after the abandonment of the post and cannot for sure be attributed with certainty to the construction phase. Unfortunately, the wooden building did not deliver any other furniture allowing a certain chronological attribution. Only carbon-14 datings – yet not known – will enable us to date this wooden building.
Finally, a third site was opened during the 2017 campaign. The location, on the slope adjacent to Building 1, had been tested by survey during the 2016 campaign. This excavation, which will continue next year, has uncovered a blocking wall in the axis of the slope as well as a number of improvements (post- holes, pits, digging in the slope walls, etc.). The sedimentary layers abutting the blocking wall have delivered an extraordinary amount of both domestic and religious ceramic furnitureartefacts.
They have also delivered a no lessa significant important amount of metal artefacts, with nearly 250 copper alloy arrowheads, daggers and bow elements, but also an important collection of copper snakes. The latter are well known in this chrono-cultural area and undoubtedly linked to cultural/religious activities.
The Mudhmar East site is exceptional by severalin many aspects. Thanks to its study, the organisation modes of local populations in the Iron Age are getting better understood.
A new perspective is also brought into this region considered so far as marginal, for this site is the southernmost example of a major cultural center of the Iron Age yetuntil then only known in the northern area of the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Thus, the large temple of the Iron Age is a remarkable discovery, as it has certainly played a leading role as a gathering place for the nomadic populations of the time.
Finally, the furniturearchaeological material contributes to giving a major importance to the site. The cult weapons, the copper snakes and the cylinder-seal will indeed help comprehend the role the site took part in the production and exchange system in the Arabian Gulf at that time. Overall, the large amount of artefacts found in and around the buildings provides a spectacular image of the importance of the region during these ancient periods.