Al-ʿAyn Oases Mapping Project: al-Hīlī Oasis 2017


  • Timothy Power
  • Peter Sheehan


al-ΚAyn, al-Hīlī, oasis landscape, survey, UNESCO World Heritage Site


Since 2014 the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) and Zayed University have been running an annual field school aimed at introducing Emirati students to archaeological methodology and the oasis landscape of al-ʿAyn. In 2017 the focus of this programme was the oasis of al-Hīlī, the northernmost of the group. The project adopts a holistic approach to understanding the cultural landscape of the oasis that combines the detailed survey of historic boundary walls with stratigraphie excavation, typological quantification of ceramics, and the compilation of oral histories through interviews with local landowners and residents. Its aim is to understand the chronological development of the oasis and its relationship to the cycles of activity that we can trace in finds assemblages and the archaeological record of the standing historic buildings. Evidence from the water supply, historic buildings, and earthen boundary walls noted during this year's survey has allowed us to identify three distinct phases within the development of al-Hīlī Oasis and to consider once again the relationship of the historic oasis landscape to the nearby prehistoric sites of al-Hīlī. The mapping data and other information gathered during the project will further form the basis of a cultural heritage site inventory that will be used to prioritize conservation and interpretation of the oasis, one of the core components of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of al-ʿAyn.


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How to Cite

Power, T., & Sheehan, P. (2018). Al-ʿAyn Oases Mapping Project: al-Hīlī Oasis 2017. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 48, 327–339. Retrieved from

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