Oman Sultanate and the Emirates

Eveha International collaborates to the "ANR project JCJC: OASIWAT". Directed by Louise Purdue (CNRS, CEPAM-UMR 7264, Nice Sophia Antipolis University) it takes place between the Emirates (Masafi, Dayah and Khatt) and the Sultanate of Oman (Rustaq).

The excavation campaigns
(by years)


Louise Purdue (CNRS, CEPAM-UMR 7264, Nice Sophia Antipolis University, France)

The project OASIWAT aims to identify and understand the social and environmental factors that have contributed to the development, mutation and durability of oases in Southeast Arabia since the 3rd mil. BC until today. Oases are precious man-made constructions, intensively cultivated, structured around water and soil management and evolving under a fragile and fluctuating socio-economic, technological, demographic and climatic equilibrium.
The emergence and evolution of oases in Southeast Arabia are closely tied to a socio-economic system structured around the exploitation, transformation and export of copper ingots from the Hajar mountain chain, covering most of the United Arab Emirates and northern Oman, to the Near East, Africa and the Indian peninsula. Archaeological data have provided information on cycles of occupation and abandonment of both villages and oases (sedentarisation versus bedoinisation) since the Bronze Age (eg. land conquest: Bronze Age (3rd mil. BC), Iron Age II (1300-600 BC), Late Islamic Period (14-17th c. AD); abandonment: End of the Bronze Age (2000-1300 BC), Iron Age III (600-300 BC)). However, data are patchy for intermediate periods (late pre-Islam/Sassanid/Early Islamic (300 BC-1400 AD)) as well as on the dynamics of the oases themselves and their agrosystem. This is partly due to the fact that past oases are traditionally perceived as retroprojections of current ones and their study hampered by the denial of their diachronic dimension. Moreover, archaeological data are often directly connected to climate change. Unfortunately, there is a substantial paucity of environmental records for much of Arabia beyond ca. 4,200 years BP. Research on the short-term and high amplitude climatic shifts due to the evolution in precipitation patterns (latitudinal position of the ITCZ and intensity of the Indian Summer Monsoon) has mainly focussed on early and mid-Holocene periods. As a consequence the long-term correlation between climate, resource availability and management, settlement pattern and socio-economic systems remains unclear.
In the long run, this project will allow for an integrated understanding of past oases and agricultural societies faced with hydro-climatic and soil constraints, as well as contribute to the ongoing and necessary debate on their durability and preservation. The project will be devoted specifically to the systematic diachronic and integrated study of oasian agro-hydrosystems and their interaction with local/regional morpho-climatic evolutions and settlement pattern in the Hajar Mountains. To fuel new data, two tasks have been defined.
1- Build a regional geomorphic, paleohydrological and climatic framework for the last 5 millennia in southeastern Arabia, at the scale of the watersheds, through the multiproxy analyses of a range of palaeoenvironmental archives (eolian, fluvial, coastal) and solid OSL and 14C dating (TASK 1)
2- Understand the emergence and evolution of the oasian hydro-agrosystem through a-the creation of a 3D model of the oases and their organization, b-the reconstruction of the hydro-agrosystems (current and past) based on the innovative combination of methods in the field and in the laboratory (geoarchaeology, agronomy, archaeology, (paleo)pedology – micromorphology, geochemistry, ethnopedology, paleobotany), c-the creation of a precise chronological framework based on numerous 14C and OSL dates, a dating method still in development in hydraulic structures (TASK 2).
The project will focus on 3 oases in the Hajar Mountains (Masafi and the Unesco site of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, and Rustaq in Oman), selected for their unique geographical location (resources, climatic recorder), the presence of well-preserved deposits and the possibility of creating solid references. Their study will allow us to put forward diachronic technological-climatic landscape models which will contribute to deconstructing the fixed “oasian model”, link the development and mutations of oasian agrosystems to hydro-climatic constraints, to the structuration of societies and to socio-economic systems.

How Eveha International Participates



– CNRS (French Research Institute)
– Durham University
– Freiburg University
– Fujairha Tourism and Antiquity
– Ras al Khaimah Department of Antiquities and Museum
– Sultan Qaboos University
– Anglo-Omani Society