A tumulus cemetery on the north coast of Kuwait Bay: results of survey and excavation in the al-Ṣabiyyah region
Keywords:Gulf archaeology, tumuli, typology, burial practices, Bronze Age
Since 2007, the Kuwaiti-Polish Archaeological Mission (KPAM) has been working in the coastal region of al-Ṣabiyyah (Subiyyah), a desert plateau extending along the north coast of Kuwait Bay. It carried out an extensive survey and excavated selected stone structures, mainly burial mounds. More than 200 archaeological structures and sites, including around 130 tumuli and around 100 stone features of different types, were recorded. A selection of forty stone structures was excavated, of which twenty-seven were burial mounds. This paper summarizes the results of six seasons of investigations, from 2007 to 2012. The survey, coupled with excavation of selected structures from the survey area, has provided extensive data for a preliminary analysis of the tumulus cemetery found in al-Ṣabiyyah. Based on this research, it is possible to present the following: a provable classification of tomb forms; distribution patterns of the burial mounds; specific burial practices in the region; and a tentative chronology of the sepulchral structures.
Bronk Ramsey C., Dee M., Lee S., Nakagawa T. & Staff R. 2010. Developments on the calibration and modelling of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 52/3: 953–961.
Carter R.A. 2005. Pottery vessels: Typological analysis. Pages 235–278 in R. Killick & J. Moon (eds), The Early Dilmun settlement at Saar. (Saar Excavation Report, 3). Ludlow: Archaeology International.
Carter R.A. & Crawford H. (eds). 2010. Maritime interactions in the Arabian Neolithic: Evidence from H3, As-Sabiyah, an Ubaid-related site in Kuwait. (American School of Prehistoric Research, Monograph Series 8). Boston: Brill.
Casanova M. 1999. Le lapis lazuli dans l’Orient ancien. Pages 189–210 in A. Caubet (ed.), Cornaline et pierres précieuses: La Méditerranée, de l’Antiquité à l’Islam. Actes du colloque organisé au Musée du Louvre par le Service culturel, les 24 et 25 novembre 1995. Paris: La Documentation française.
Crawford H.E.W. 1998. Dilmun and its Gulf neighbours. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
al-Duweish S. 2009. Cemeteries of the area of al-Subiya in the state of Kuwait. Archaeological study. MA dissertation, University of Zagazig, Egypt. [Unpublished; in Arabic].
Gabutti A. 2002–2003. La ceramica di Tell Yelkhi: la ceramica dei livelli VIb–III. Mesopotamia 37–38: 87–263.
Gunatilaka A. 2010. Holocene evolution of Arabian coastal sabkhas: A re-evaluation based on stable-isotope analysis, forty years after Shearman’s first view of the sabkha. Pages 113–132 in C.G.St.C. Kendall & A.S. Alsharhan (eds), Quaternary carbonate and evaporite sedimentary facies and their ancient analogues. A tribute to Douglas James Shearman. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.
Højlund F., Hilton A.S., Juel C., Kirkeby N., Laursen S.T. & Nielsen L.E. 2008. Late third-millennium elite burials in Bahrain. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 19/2: 144–155.
Lambeck K. 1996. Shoreline reconstructions for the Persian Gulf since the last glacial maximum. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 142/1–2: 43–57.
Laursen S.T. 2008. Early Dilmun and its rulers: New evidence of the burial mounds of the elite and the development of social complexity, c.2200–1750 BC. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 19/2: 156–167.
Leemans W.F. 1960. Foreign trade in the old Babylonian period, as revealed by texts from southern Mesopotamia. (Studia et documenta ad iura Orientis Antiqui pertinentia, 6). Leiden: Brill.
Makowski M. 2013. Tumulus grave SMQ 49 (As-Sabbiya/Kuwait). Preliminary report on the investigations in 2009–2010. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 22: 518–527.
OxCal 4.3 available at https://c14.arch.ox.ac.uk/oxcal/OxCal.html.
Porter B.W. & Boutin A.T. 2012. The Dilmun Bioarchaeology Project: A first look at the Peter B. Cornwall Collection at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 23/1: 35–49.
Potts D.T. 1997. Mesopotamian civilization: The material foundations. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Reiche A. 2013. Tumulus grave SMQ 30 in As-Sabbiya – Mugheira (northern Kuwait). A report on the 2007–2008 investigations. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 22: 528–541.
Reimer P.J., Baillie M.G.L., Bard E., Bayliss A., Beck J.W., Blackwell P.G. ... Weyhenmeyer C.E. 2009. IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 51: 1111–1150.
Rutkowski Ł. 2013. Tumuli graves and desert wells in the As-Sabbiya. Preliminary excavation report on the spring season in 2010. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 22: 493–517.
Rutkowski Ł. 2015. Tumulus burial field on the north coast of Kuwait Bay. Preliminary excavation report on the spring season in 2012. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 24/1: 505–528.
Rutkowski Ł., Makowski M., Reiche A., Sołtysiak A. & Wygnańska Z. 2015. Tumuli graves and other stone structures on the north coast of Kuwait Bay (al-Subiyah 2007–2012). Warsaw: Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw/Kuwait: National Council for Culture, Arts & Letters.
Sołtysiak A. 2012. As-Sabiyah and Kadhima (Kuwait), seasons 2009–2011. Bioarchaeology of the Near East 5: 57–62.
How to Cite
Archaeopress Publishing, Oxford, UK