The Crowded Desert: a multi-phase archaeological survey in the north-west of Qatar


  • Jose C. Carvajal Lopez
  • Laura Morabito
  • Robert Carter
  • Richard Fletcher
  • Faisal Abdullah al-Naimi


survey, desert settlement patterns, nomadism, sedentarism, archaeology of Qatar


This paper introduces the conception, development, and results of the first campaign of the Crowded Desert Project, an archaeological survey of the area of MulayΉah (aka Mleiha), Umm al-MāΜ in north-west Qatar. The project aims to develop basic research on desert settlement and on processes of nomadism and sedentarization over a long timescale in Qatar. The first season has focused on two areas, the most important of which is the MulayΉah Depression, a geological silt trap with a well, around which there is documented occupation ranging from the Hellenistic period up to the present day. As expected, the seasonal flooding of the depression can offer potential stratigraphic sequences that can be combined with other methods of dating to establish a basic sequence of occupation of the area. In the survey more than 600 features were mapped, including campsites, Islamic and pre-Islamic cemeteries, and mosques of different sizes. This is the first multi-phasic intensive survey of the area in which an attempt to offer a long-term interpretation of settlement patterns has been undertaken.





How to Cite

Carvajal Lopez, J. C., Morabito, L., Carter, R., Fletcher, R., & al-Naimi, F. A. (2016). The Crowded Desert: a multi-phase archaeological survey in the north-west of Qatar. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 46, 45–63. Retrieved from

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