Origins of Doha and Qatar Field Reports

Origins of Doha and Qatar Season 1 – Archive Report

The project carried out its first season of fieldwork in Doha between November 2012 and February 2013. During this time four archaeological recording projects were undertaken. Archaeological excavations conducted within the Heritage Quarter of the Msheireb development, located in the historic centre of Doha. Non-intrusive recording of exposed archaeological deposits in the Salata district of the city identified similar early occupation horizons. An archaeological survey of an agricultural area in Rayyan consisted of mapping the site in conjunction with a detailed description and photographic record of the features present. Finally a detailed survey was made of the standing buildings in the Old Al-Ghanim area of the city. The purpose of this survey was to record the historic structures present and to identify how many historic structures survive in this part of the city. This work undertaken by the Origins of Doha and Qatar Project represents the first systematic study of the origins and development of the city. Archaeological excavation conducted in the centre of Doha identified buried architectural remains and a range of occupation deposits and artefacts. Apart from yielding detailed information on the lives of the inhabitants of Doha in the 1920s and 1930s, these excavations also revealed when Doha spread westwards towards Bidda’, a process which culminated in the joining of the towns into a single urban conglomeration in the 1950s.

Origins of Doha and Qatar Season 2 – Building Survey Report

The project carried out a program of building recording in the centre of Doha. This survey consisted of both extensive buildings survey and a more intensive record of several buildings. This first section of the report presents an overview of domestic architecture in the Arab world, and the ways in which concepts of space, privacy and family are articulated in the traditional buildings of the region. This is followed by a more detailed description of traditional Qatari architecture, and the specific building techniques employed. The results of our survey are discussed, and traditional building styles and methods in the capital are illustrated by a number of detailed case studies. The domestic buildings presented in this report represent a unique aspect of Qatar’s cultural heritage, but sadly one that is rapidly disappearing. The work undertaken to record these buildings before they are lost will help preserve an important part of the social history of Qatar. The traditional architecture of Qatar evokes memories of the way people lived prior to the growth of hydrocarbon industry, a way of life that is vanishing. These buildings are also a record of construction techniques and designs that are no longer commonly used in Qatar.

Joint QM – UCL Qatar Old Doha Excavation (report forthcoming)

In partnership with the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) the Origins of Doha project carried out an archaeological excavation in the centre of Doha between December 2013 and February 2014. The excavations were located in the historic core of the city, between the Qubib mosque and Souq Waqif. The excavations revealed several phases of architecture dating from the 19th to the 20th centuries. The archaeological deposits excavated were rich in artefacts, including pottery, glass and animal bone.

Origins of Doha and Qatar Season 3- Bidda GPR report

Archaeology South-East was commissioned by the Origins of Doha and Qatar project based to undertake a geophysical ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey on land south of the Ministry of the Interior, Al Bidda, Doha, Qatar. Rectilinear anomalies of various sizes suggestive of urban archaeological deposits were detected across the surveyed area. However, the alignments of these anomalies do not match digitised aerial photograph GIS interpretations of Al Bidda from the 1950s which demonstrate a broad cardinal orientation. Significantly, the anomalies are approximately oriented to the Qibla. It is suggested, therefore, that an earlier phase of construction than that represented in aerial photography is denoted by the GPR anomalies.

Origins of Doha and Qatar Season 3 – Nuaija Survey Report

In 2015 the project carried out an architectural and archaeological survey of an abandoned agriculture area at Nu’aija, located in the south of Doha. This area was also formerly one of the most important drinking water sources for the historic town of Doha. The work undertaken included recording a traditional zajara well, which would have been used to irrigate the agricultural land prior to the introduction of mechanical pumps. Several other buildings were recorded, as well as surviving elements of the agricultural area such as wells, tanks and irrigation channels. A surface collection of artefacts from the site, mostly ceramics, was also undertaken. As well as recording the site the work also provided a training element, in which members of QM participated in a short course on building recording at the site. The traditional zajara well recorded on the site is possibly the only surviving example in the country. This type of type of structure would have been essential for irrigating crops prior to the introduction of mechanical pumps, and represents an important part of Doha’s history.

Origins of Doha and Qatar Season 4 – Fuwairit building recording archive report

The historic village of Fuwairit, located directly to the south of Fuwairit archaeological site, contains a number of abandoned buildings dating to the second half of the twentieth century Despite being an important coastal settlement in the centuries preceding Qatar’s unification the details of Fuwairit’s history remain poorly understood as there are few early written references to the site. The historic buildings at Fuwairit preserve a record of the history of the site and represent a unique aspect of Qatar’s history and cultural heritage, contributing to a better understanding of the changes that occurred in the country in the 20th century. In order to record these structures a detailed photographic, written and drawn record of the site was undertaken by the project. The building recording undertaken at Fuwairit complements similar work undertaken by the project previously in Doha. Alongside archaeological survey, excavation and the collection of oral histories this work preserves a record of the site and further informs us of how the state of Qatar developed throughout the 19th and 20th century.

Origins of Doha and Qatar Season 4 – Zarqa Survey Report

The project carried out a survey of archaeological remains near a modern farm at Zarqa in February 2016. This work was undertaken as part of a wider archaeological investigation of the site of Fuwairit and its hinterland, which includes standing building recording and excavation. In order to record the Zarqa site all the features visible on the surface were mapped using a total station and Differential GPS. In addition a detailed photographic, written and drawn record of the site was undertaken. The site of Zarqa is located c.1.5km inland of Fuwairit and consists of a ruined fort, mosque and a number of other buildings, as well as agricultural areas and wells. Zarqa was clearly a fortified site that would have provided the water and agricultural areas utilised by the inhabitants of Fuwairit. Despite being an important coastal settlement in the centuries preceding Qatar’s unification the details of Fuwairit’s history remain poorly understood as there are few early written references to the site.

Origins of Doha and Qatar Season 4 – Fuwairit excavation archive report

Fuwairit was an important coastal settlement in the centuries preceding Qatar’s unification, rising to regional prominence as the home of the al‐Thani family during the early 19th century. However, there are few early written references to sites along the northern coast of Qatar. In 2016 the project began work at the site with a program of surface mapping and archaeological excavations. The excavations undertaken suggest there were at least three separate occupations of the site between the 18th and the early 20th century. The excavations also identified an older portion of the site which had not previously been recognised. This was apparently a separate small walled town, possibly earlier than the other occupations. Our excavations at the site are ongoing.

Qatar History and Archaeology Bibliography

Abu-Hakima, A. M. (1995) Eastern Arabia: Qatar 1921-1950 v. 3: Historic Photographs

Abu Saud, A.(1984) Qatari Women Past and Present. London: Longman Group.

Adham, K. (2011) Rediscovering the Island: Doha’s Urbanity from Pearls to spectacle in Elsheshtawy, Y (ed) The Evolving Arab City. London: Routledge.

Allison, M.B. (1994) Doctor Mary in Arabia. US: University of Texas Press.

Anscombe, F.F. (1997) The Ottoman Gulf: The Creation of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. New York: Colombia University Press.

Billecocq, X.B. (2010) Le Qatar Et Les Francais.  Paris: Collections Relations Internationales & Culture.

Brucks, G.B. (1829) Memoir descriptive of the Navigation of the Gulf of Persia in R.H. Thomas (ed) Selections from the records of the Bombay Government No XXIV (1985) New York: Oleander press.

Burchardt, H. (1906) Ost-Arabien von Basra bis Maskat auf Grund eigener Reisen. Berlin.

de Cardi, B. (1978) Qatar Archaeological Report: Excavations 1973. University Oxford: Oxford Press.

Carter, R. (2012) Sea of Pearls. Seven Thousand Years of the Industry that Shaped the Gulf. London: Arabian Publishing.

Carter, R. (2011). Ceramics of the Qatar National Museum. Report available at

Constable, C.G. and Stiffe, A.W. (1864) The Persian Gulf Pilot (First Edition). London.

El Mallakh, R. (1979) Qatar: Development of an oil economy. Palgrave Macmillan.

Fromherz, A. J. (2012). Qatar: A modern history. Georgetown University Press.

Gillespie, F. (2006) Discovering Qatar. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Graham, H. (1978) Arabian Time Machine. London: Heinemann.

Hinchcliffe, T. (2013) British architects in the Gulf 1950-1980, in Fraser, M. & Golzari, N. (eds) Architecture and Globalisation in the Persian Gulf Region. Ashgate publishing.

Kursun, Z. (2010) The Ottomans in Qatar. Gorgias Pr Llc.

Lorimer, J.G. (1986) Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Originally published 1915).

Marshall, B. (1994) European travellers in Oman and southeast Arabia 1792-1950: A biobibliographical study. In R. L. Bidwell, G. Rex Smith andJ. R. Smart (Eds) New Arabian Studies, Vol. 2. Exeter: University of Exeter Press.

Nippa, A., Herbstreuth, P. and Burchardt, H. (2006) Unterwegs am Golf: von Basra nach Maskat. Berlin: Schiler

Othman , N. (1984) With Their Bare Hands: The Story of the Oil Industry in Qatar. London: Longman Group

Palgrave, W. G. (1866) Narrative of a year’s journey through Central and Eastern Arabia (1862-1863). Macmillan

Rahman, H. (2005) The Emergence of Qatar: The Turbulent Years 1627-1916. London: Thames & Hudson

Seton, D. (1995) The journals of David Seton in the Gulf 1800-1809. Edited by Sultan Mohammed al-Qasimi. Exeter: Exeter University Press

Tuson, P. (1991) Records of Qatar 1820-1960. Archive Editions.

US Hydrographical Office (1920) Persian Gulf Pilot: Comprising the Persian Gulf the Gulf of Oman and the Makran coast. Hydrographical Office publication no. 158. Government Printing Office, Washington.

Wilton, Sir J.A. (unpub) Doha 1949-50. From Papers of Sir John Wilton, archive held at University of Exeter, reference number GB29 EUL MS 264

Zahlan, R.S.(1979) The Creation of Qatar. London: Routledge

Qatar Architecture Bibliography

Hawker, R. (2008) Traditional Architecture of the Arabian Gulf : Building on Desert Tides. WIT Press.

Jaidah, I. and Bourennane, M. (2010) The History of Qatari Architecture 1800-1950. Skira

Al-Kholaifi, M. J. (2006) The Traditional Architecture in Qatar. Doha: National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage.

Ragette, F. (2003) Traditional Domestic Architecture of the Arab Region. Edition Axel Menges

Yarwood, J. (2006) Al Muharraq: Architecture, Urbanism and Society in Historic Arabian Towns.

Qatar Web Resources – A website run by architect and urban planner that includes his notes and observations about Islamic design with specific reference to Qatari architecture.

Glass in the Desert – A blog about architecture in the Gulf


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