Pearl diver's weight found at Al Zubara in 2009
18th century
Object Name: Diving weight, hayar
Period: 18th century
Date: 1700-1799
Provenance: Stone possibly sourced in Iran or UAE
Dimensions: 15cm x 12.4cm x 14.53cm; weight: 4.2kg
Medium: stone,hematite
Registration Number: ARC.2009.3.115
Place Of Discovery/Findspot:  Al Zubarah
This oval pearl diver's weight was found at the 18th-century site of Al Zubara. It has a hole at one end and a groove where the rope has rubbed away the stone during repeated use. It is made from a particular kind of heavy, glittering stone, probably haematite which is known as lasif. Some believe this was sourced from the island of Kish, Iran, but it is also said to be found on the seabed around other small islands in the Gulf. Other sorts of dense stone were occasionally used, and lead diving weights became common towards the end of the pearl diving industry in the early 20th century.

The weight would be attached to a rope, and the diver would hook his foot through a loop or twist the rope around his leg in order to descend quickly. Once he reached the seabed, he would release the boat and his hauler, who remained on the boat, would pull it back up. The diver also had a second rope, attached to his oyster basket, used to pull him back up once he ran out of breath.
The Qatar Peninsula is surrounded by sea except in the south where it connects with its neighbours from the Arabian Peninsula. For hundreds of years people have shared the land, resources and knowledge inherited from their environment. With no fixed lifestyle in terms of time and place, people moved easily and freely between land and sea for trade, livestock, pearl diving, fishing, and hunting at various times throughout the year. This symbiotic relationship between the people and their environment was represented in the unity of their societies, including the exchange of knowledge, stories and the trading of available goods.

A distinctive characteristic of life on the Qatar Peninsula has long been the close association between the coast and the desert – al barr. Some desert tribes spent several months of the year in coastal cities, setting up semi-permanent residences to participate in pearl diving or fishing. Similarly, coastal residents occasionally moved to al barr during the winter to graze their livestock. This exchange of natural resources and the influence of different environments has contributed to the creation of a unique community.
The presence of British, French and Dutch trading companies in the Gulf from the early 1600s brought uncertainty to the region, with unstable alliances and intense competition over trade routes. As trade flourished, however, the strength of the Arab tribes increased. Many Arab tribes moved from the interior of the Arabian Peninsula to Qatar, and by the 18th and 19th centuries, most of the major towns of the Gulf were founded. Several towns flourished on the Qatari coast, including Huwailah, Khor Hassan, Fuwairat, Ruwaida, Freiha, Al Bidda and Doha. The most notable was Al Zubara which became a hub for the Gulf pearl trade.
WALMSLEY, A., THUESEN, I., 2009-2010, Qatar Islamic Archaeology and Heritage (QIAH) Project End of Season Report.
Al Zubarah