Archaeology and Heritage Map
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NMoQ is dedicated to bringing to life the unique story of Qatar and its people. It actively gives voice to the nation's rich heritage and culture and demonstrates our extensive network of ties with other nations and people around the world.
Begins the story more than 700 million years ago, when powerful geological forces shaped the peninsula, and it was home to now extinct land and sea creatures. During some periods the region was land-locked, at others it was the peninsula, and it was home to now extinct land and sea creatures. During some periods the region was land-locked, at others it was submerged under water, with the peninsula as we know it today emerging just 4000 years ago. In this gallery you will encounter the reimagining of Qatar’s geological formation in a vast art film directed by Christophe Cheysson, which also brings to life extinct life-forms, such as the Qataraspis deprofundis, a species of armoured fish. The model on display is based on a fossil fragment, discovered in Qatar in the 1960s in a bore-hole at a depth of nearly 4 kilometres. This has since been dated to the Devonian period (roughly 400 million years ago). The central displays present fossils of animals and plants from seven time periods, with an interactive exhibit allowing in-depth exploration of the complex geological processes that created the Qatar peninsula.
The gallery also highlights the relationship between the people of Qatar and their role as guardians of the land and sea—a role more vital today than ever before.The gallery features a striking artfilm directed by Jacques Perrin and Christophe Cheysson, which captures the diversity of Qatar’s environments, presented in counterpoint to a kaleidoscope of smaller screens focusing on individual species. Against the backdrop of the film, beautiful models of Qatar’s land and sea creatures are displayed for you to explore the interconnection between different species and environments, and understand the fragility of Qatar’s ecosystems. The gallery includes an impressive life-size model of a whale shark, suspended from the ceiling, and a Family Exhibit full of interactive displays for children to engage with the gallery themes.
The people of Qatar have left traces of their lives, from the earliest inhabitants in their temporary camps thousands of years ago, to merchants in the prosperous towns of the 1800s. In this gallery you will discover their story through approximately 1000 archaeological artefacts, which are displayed in glass cases to form an extended chronology. Mysterious rock carvings from Al Jassasiya and Al Kassar are reconstructed on the rear wall, while a film by Jananne Al-Ani, projected along the full length of the gallery, moves from aerial views of Qatar’s archaeological sites to close-ups of individual artefacts. Wooden models of the key archaeological sites of Murwab and Al Khor are located next to the related artefact displays, along with a full-size reconstruction of the Mezruah burial site and a display of the Ras Matbakh burial jar, exploring how people lived and died in the past. The second Family Exhibit is located in this gallery, where children can get hands-on with excavation techniques and ancient artefacts from sites in the main gallery.
The transitional displays, linking the previous gallery space to this one, locate Qatar on a map of ancient trade routes, featuring objects from the 10th century wreck of the Cirebon, which sank off the coast of Indonesia. In the centre of the gallery is a large wooden model of the Qatar peninsula with projections showing traditional seasonal movement. A highlight of the space is the first of the large format oral histories, where Qatari people share memories of their traditional lifestyle. Exhibits present the artefacts of movement—elaborate camel saddles, leather water bags, instruments of navigation—and objects related to traditional knowledge about plant resources and animal tracking, essential for survival. This gallery’s Family Exhibit invites children to track animals in the desert and navigate by the stars, amongst other activities.
In this gallery you will be drawn into the experience of al barr by the gentle sound of the wind moving with the desert sand. This is the start of a poetic art film directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, projected on three walls, and presenting a day in the life of a desert encampment. The film brings to life many of the objects on display, including a complete tent, falconry equipment, the paraphernalia of coffee making, and large displays of traditional clothing and sadu weaving. The smell of coffee and excerpts from poetry connected to life in al barr help create an immersive experience. In the Family Exhibit, children can milk a goat, make Arabic coffee and find out how much water it takes for everyday activities such as having a bath.
Discover in this gallery a large-scale model of the archaeological site of Al Zubarah, Qatar’s first UNESCO World Heritage listing. This model is presented against the backdrop of a second art film directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, recreating a day in the life of the trading and pearling city in its heyday. The film follows the inhabitants from their dawn prayer to the busy souq and majlis, showing the interaction of the local people with traders from Europe and India. Artefacts on display include finds from the Al Zubarah site, reconstructing trading connections, urban life and domestic traditions, as well as local architectural styles. Exhibits also explore different coastal activities—boat-mending, fishing, and pearling— leading you into the next space where you will experience Nafas (Breath), an immersive art film by Mira Nair, that takes you into the physical and emotional hardships of pearling. The Family Exhibit invites children to row a dhow, cook for the boat crew and hunt for pearls.
This gallery showcases the beauty of the pearls harvested for centuries in the waters of Qatar. The first exhibit focuses on the pearl merchant, displaying natural pearls and equipment for sorting and measuring. Behind these artefacts, you will see the prized pearl jewellery pieces that were made as far away as India and Europe, and were owned by ancient kings and 20th century celebrities. The centrepiece is the Baroda Carpet, a covering made in India for the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), which is embellished with over 1.5 million Gulf seed pearls. The gallery is flanked by a display presenting the costumes, jewellery and musical instruments associated with festivals and celebrations, such as Al Guffal, marking the return of the pearl divers at the end of the season.
This gallery presents the political history of Qatar between 1500 and 1913, a fascinating and constantly evolving period in the nation’s past—from the first mention of Qatar in historical documents through to the reigns of Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani and Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed bin Thani. In this gallery, you will learn about the time of great turbulence as Qatar engaged with the Portuguese, the Ottomans and the British, before Sheikh Jassim brought the tribes together under his leadership to create a unified country. An art film by Peter Webber provides a backdrop, symbolically evoking the final battle before unification, while the sounds and smells of warfare draw you into the gallery past beautiful models of Portuguese, Ottoman, British and Qatari ships. Objects on display include weapons, historic maps, items related to significant battles and personal possessions of the leaders of Qatar.
The narrative of this gallery focuses on two turning points of Qatari history: the collapse of the pearling industry and the discovery of oil. The dramatic loss at the beginning of the 20th century of Qatar’s major source of income (partly as a result of the development of cultured pearls in Japan), as well as a plague that decimated the country, and the loss of the pearling fleet in the storm known as Sanat Al Tabah, is narrated through archival newspaper stories and oral histories. After this dark time, oil was found in the region and eventually in Qatar, and this sense of hope and anticipation is communicated through an uplifting and dramatic art film created by Doug Aitken, projected across three vast gallery walls. Here you will also see exhibits relating to the early period of the oil industry, including an installation of oil pipes, and objects that signified the changing lifestyles of Qatari people such as radios, televisions and telephones, stamps and currency.
As a result of oil exports and later, the development of liquified natural gas (LNG) production, Qatar experienced unprecedented development between the 1970s and the 2000s. The central exhibit in the next space is a beautiful model of the city of Doha, showing its expansion across this 40 year period following the investment in urban planning and infrastructure under the reigns of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani and the Father Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. In this space you can explore the different masterplans and significant buildings of Doha on the screens that surround the display, while projections dynamically map the city’s development. An interactive digital archive wall allows you to access hundreds of images and related archival documents that show the city’s transformation, and present thematic visual explorations of, for example, education and the development of a sophisticated healthcare system. The gallery then looks at the investment in LNG by HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the success of which resulted in Qatar’s more recent development. A film on HH Sheikh Hamad highlights his achievements, while a video installation by John Sanborn explores the LNG phenomenon.
The final space explores Qatar in the reign of the current Emir, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who continues the pioneering work of his father to diversify the country’s economy and invest in Qatar’s younger generation. This recent history includes the blockade imposed on Qatar in June 2017, which brought unprecedented challenges to the country and its people. In a striking and immersive digital installation, the gallery dynamically narrates these events, revealing how Qatar has emerged stronger than ever, striving to open up new opportunities and promising horizons, strengthened by a shared vision for the future.
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