Ahmad al-Jallad (Leiden University, Leiden Center for the Study of Ancient Arabia)
Mahmoodal-Hajiri (Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage)
How Eveha Participates
The first campaign of the Thâj Franco-Dutch-Saudi mission took place from October 25 to November 30 2016. In order to understand this gigantic site, several operations were carried out simultaneously:
-photogrammetric coverage of the site by drone in order to obtain a digital terrain model and a global orthophotography of the remains ;
-a geomagnetic survey in the open spaces of modern buildings in the fortified city (Strasbourg Globe Physics Institute);
-a geo-archaeological and paleo-environmental study (in collaboration with the MEDEE – Sea, Desert, Environment programme);
-an archaeological and epigraphic survey of the site and its surroundings;
-the archaeological excavation of two test-areas.
Éveha International’s work focused on the excavation of area 1, located in the south-eastern suburb of the ancient city. In this area, aerial photography had revealed the existence of very large buildings, much larger than the buildings of the city within the walls ; their function needed therefore to be elucidated.
The excavation targeted a 60×40 m building. The eastern half (about 1000 m2) was stripped and surveyed. This stripping revealed a succession of four distinct architectural units, arranged in a row from north to south and each organized around a central courtyard. Their walls are built of local stone but may have had earthen superstructures.
In order to understand the chronology of this area, two trenches were opened. The first, located in the southern architectural unit, revealed the existence of five phases of occupation, the first of which probably corresponds to sporadic occupation. The oldest phase with built remains, phase 2, seems to date, according to carbone data analyses and ceramic parallels, between the end of the 1st century BC and the beginning of the 2nd century AD.
The second trench was opened north of the islet by Saudi archaeologists from the SCTH, under the supervision of Éveha International’s collaborator. This trench revealed a potter’s kiln, dated between the end of the 1st and the first half of the 3rd century AD. It also revealed a continued occupation of the area at least until the 3rd-4th century AD. This discovery contradicts the hitherto dominant thesis of an abandonment or a strong decline of the ancient city as soon as the 2nd century AD.