Rock-crystal bead from Murwab
Early Abbasid Period
Object Name: Bead
Period: Early Abbasid Period
Date: late 8th to late 9th century
Provenance: East Africa
Dimensions: 1.6 x 0.9 x 0.7cm, weight: 2.9g
Medium: rock crystal
Registration Number: ARC.2007.7.691
Place Of Discovery/Findspot:  Murwab
This rectangular bead with parallel grooves is made from rock crystal. Pierced with a central hole, it could be strung into a necklace or bracelet. It was found in a house at the 9th-century Abbasid site of Murwab in northwest Qatar.

At this time rock crystal (a pure, clear form of quartz) was sourced primarily from East Africa, in particular Madagascar. It was then processed at coastal sites in Tanzania and Kenya. Some of the most finely carved examples using the best rock crystal were produced in Egypt during the Fatimid period. This particular find bares testament to Qatar’s links with international trading networks during the 9th century.
Early Islamic Period 622 – 1000 CE

In 628 CE, the inhabitants of the administrative district of Al Hajar, which included the geographical area of present-day Bahrain, al-Hasa in eastern Saudi Arabia and Qatar, joined the new religion of Islam. The territory of Qatar was occupied mainly by two tribal groups, the Tamim and the Abd al-Qays.

During the early Abbasid period Qatar was famous, even at the court of Baghdad, for its red-dyed woollen coats, horse breeding and pearls. The entire population of the region benefited greatly from the maritime traffic passing through the Gulf, from Basra to China via India and Southeast Asia, as demonstrated by the large number of archaeological sites particularly in the northern region of Qatar.
Trade during the early Abbasid caliphate (750-1000 CE)

The Abbasid caliphate was a major dynasty ruling across the Islamic world. It succeeded the Umayyad dynasty in 750 CE bringing the capital eastwards from Damascus to Baghdad. Under the Abbasids came what has long been considered a golden age of Islam where knowledge was greatly advanced and widely disseminated. The dynasty stretched from as far as North Africa to the borders of China, making the capital in Baghdad well-placed to become a crossroads of trade and a cultural melting pot.

With the expansion of the Abbasid dynasty came further interaction between neighbouring lands, resulting in vital achievements including advancements in medicine and technological discoveries. The Abbasids sought innovative methods to generate revenue. This included developing new trade routes and capitalizing on existing ones such as the Silk Road, which facilitated the dynasty’s trading activities with India, Persia, East Asia, and Samarkand. Abbasid merchants saw an array of goods pass through land and sea routes, including ceramics, paper, silk and spices, to name a few.
GUERIN, A., 1994, “Majlis et processus de sédentarisation. Étude ethnoarchéologique au Qatar”, in Archéologie Islamique 4: 177–197.

GUERIN, A. & NA’IMI, F., 2010, "Preliminary pottery study: Murwab horizon in progress, ninth century AD, Qatar", in Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, Archaeopress, Oxford, vol. 40: 17–34.

GUERIN, A. & NA’IMI, F., 2009, "Territory and settlement patterns during the Abbasid period (ninth century AD): the village of Murwab (Qatar)", in Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, Archaeopress, Oxford, vol. 39: 181–196.

HARDY-GUILBERT, Cl., 1991, "Dix ans de recherche archéologique sur la période islamique dans le Golfe (1977-1987), Bilans et perspectives", in Y. Ragib (ed.), Documents de l’Islam médiéval: Nouvelles perspectives de recherche, Institut Français d\'Archéologie Orientale & CNRS, TAEI 29: 134–140, fig. 4–8.

HARDY-GUILBERT, Cl., 1984, "Fouilles archéologiques a Murwab, Qatar", in R. Boucharlat et J.-F. Salles (eds.), Arabie Orientale, Mésopotamie et Iran méridional: De l’Age du Fer au début de la période islamique, ERC 37, Paris, pp. 169–188.

KNUTH, E., 2017, "An Early Islamic fort and settlement at Murwab”, in F. Hojlund (ed.), Danish Archaeological Investigations in Qatar 1956-1974, Qatar Museum Authority and Moesgaard Museum, Jutland Archaeological Society Publications, vol. 97: 83–98.