Axelle Rougeulle (CNRS, UMR8167 – Orient et Méditerranée)
How Eveha Participates
Publication of the research
The fifth season of the Qalhât Project took place from October 30 to December 6, 2012. This project is joint funded by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture of the Sultanate of Oman, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the CNRS, and is directed by Axelle Rougeulle (CNRS – UMR 8167). 5 people made up this year’s team, including one member of Éveha.
This season focused mainly on preparing the publication of the results of work carried out during the first four years of the Project. This took place in Qalhât, so as to allow for the completion of some aspects of the fieldwork at the same time.
Excavation of a funerary complex
Alongside the publication work, excavation was begun on a funerary structure (B67) located in the north-western part of the town. This is one example of a type of structure observed in several places in Qalhât. The tombs are associated with a built structure of varying complexity, characterised by one or more “terraces” filled with gravel. The tombs are generally placed in these raised areas. Although the presence of tombs confirmed that these structures had a funerary role, nothing was known in detail about them. It was therefore important to examine one of them. The outline of the tomb was excavated, but out of respect, none of the burials were interfered with.
The complex uncovered was outlined by a wall of a little over a metre high, predominantly built of pebbles. Several tombs were built against the outside of this wall. These appear have been gradually incorporated, and it is clear that the complex evolved over time. Indeed, the excavations revealed that the ensemble underwent several construction phases. Inside, the complex was organised around an open courtyard, at the south-west corner of which lay a single tomb which probably had a privileged status. This may have been the original focus of the complex, and was therefore carefully avoided during the later reorganisations. The western part was occupied by a prayer hall which was divided up during a later phase.
This group of structures was built in an area where the bedrock was almost visible on the surface. Before construction could take place, it was necessary to put in place a substantial preparatory layer. This layer contained an enormous quantity of pottery sherds, mostly of Indian origin, and often quite worn. Their presence in such quantities raises the question of their possible use as ballast, before they were discarded in Qalhât.
Several pieces of evidence enable us to date the construction of these structures to the 14th century. They appear to have been used up until the last phases of occupation of Qalhât.