This fragment would have formed the upper part of a jar used for transport and storage. The jar’s clay in addition to its form, with a short, flared neck and a thickened triangular rim, are characteristic of ‘Barbar’-type productions. This type of pottery is common to the island of Bahrain and dates from the end of the third to the beginning of the second millennium BCE. It is named after the temple at Barbar where it was first discovered. It corresponds to the Dilmun civilisation based in Bahrain, which became the main trading power in the region due to its location on an important trade route between Mesopotamia and the Indus valley civilisation.
This jar fragment was discovered during excavations in 1978 at the site of Al Jazirat Bin Ghanim Al Khor, and dates to the Kassite period (named after the family that ruled the kingdom of Babylon from 1595 to about 1155 BCE). Its presence tells us that Qatar was part of an ancient long-distance trade network that linked Iraq, Iran, the Gulf region, Oman and the Indus Valley region (parts of Pakistan and India).
During the Bronze Age period in Qatar a sedentary way of life was maintained. Important seasonal settlements existed on the east coast at Lusail and on the island of Bin Ghanim (Al Khor). The dwellings consisted of semi-subterranean huts, with floors dug into the ground and low walls barely above ground level. They were probably covered with grass or reed thatch.
The economy was based on animal husbandry, fishing, but also the collection of murex shells which allowed for the artisanal production of a very popular purple dye. Extremely expensive, this dye was sold to the elites in neighbouring regions including Bahrain and Mesopotamia (Iraq). Qatar was within the cultural sphere of the Dilmun civilisation (2300-1200 BCE), which had important settlements in Bahrain and along the Arabian coast to Kuwait.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT - REGION/GULF/WORLD
The Bronze Age is marked by important technological and social advances, including the development of advanced metal working and production. It is characterised in particular by the use of bronze, an alloy mainly composed of copper and tin. This new metal was very strong, and its colour reminiscent of gold. It was used to make weapons, ornaments, tools and cult objects.
During the Bronze Age many civilizations developed large cities with complex bureaucracies, highly controlled and specialised economies, large armies, public buildings and massive infrastructure. The development of literacy (writing) means that this period was the dawn of history, and for the first time we learn the names of places, people and their gods, and the events that took place at this distant time.
PUBLICATIONS AND RESEARCH
TIXIER, J., 1980, Mission archéologique française à Qatar 1976-77, 1977-78, vol. 1.
INIZAN, M. L. et al., 1988, Mission archéologique française à Qatar, vol. 2: Préhistoire à Qatar.