Walk the line: the 2020 field season of the Al-Mudhaybi Regional Survey


  • Stephanie Döpper Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main


Survey, Transects, Central Oman, Find scatters, Landscape archaeology


The Al-Mudhaybi Regional Survey seeks to produce a detailed and comprehensive knowledge of the landscape of the Al-Mudhaybi region in Central Oman. This paper presents the results of the 2020 field season, in which transects throughout the survey area were field-walked. The transects were equally spaced, at 4 km distance from each other, and ran north to south. Each transect was walked by a team of four, recording all surface finds with a hand-held GPS device. This method helped to identify more ephemeral structures, such as find scatters, thus providing statistically relevant data on site and artefact density in the region and, ultimately, on the settlement pattern and its diachronic development. At the southern end of the first transect completed in 2020, an Iron Age settlement was recorded near Sinaw. Additionally, this paper discusses small excavations carried out at three sites — Al-Batha, Mukhtru, and Al-Fath — which were conducted to provide a more precise chronology for them by radiocarbon dating. While radiocarbon dates on charcoal from the Mukhtru settlement site fall well into the Umm an-Nar period (2450–2050 BC), radiocarbon dates and pottery sherds from the presumably third-millennium BC tower at Al-Fath clearly indicate a reuse in the middle and late Islamic periods.


Alcock S. & Cherry J. 2004. Side-by-side survey: Comparative regional studies in the Mediterranean world. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Banning E.B. 1986. Peasants, pastoralists and ‘Pax Romana’: Mutualism in the southern highlands of Jordan. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 261: 25–50.

Bintliff J., Howard P. & Snodgrass A.M. (eds). 2007. Testing the hinterland. The Work of the Boeotia Survey (1989–1991) in the southern approaches of the city of Thespiai. Cambridge: MacDonald Institute Monographs.

Carter R.A. 1997. Defining the Late Bronze Age in southeast Arabia: Ceramic evolution and settlement during the second millennium BC. PhD thesis, University College London. https://www.academia.edu/4450381/R_A_Carters_PhD_Thesis_Defining_the_Late_Bronze_Age_in_Southeast_Arabia

Cherry J.F. 1983. Frogs round the pond. Perspectives on current archaeological survey projects in the Mediterranean region. Pages 375–416 in D.R. Keller & D.W. Rupp (eds), Archaeological survey in the Mediterranean area. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.

Döpper S. & Schmidt C. 2020. Nothing but tombs and towers? Results of the Al-Mudhaybi Regional Survey 2019. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 50: 157–169. https://www.archaeopress.com/ArchaeopressShop/Public/displayProductDetail.asp?id={3494C2BB-F6E8-4F05-AF0D-BA849ED2009B}

Ebert J.I. 1992. Distributional archaeology. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Foley R.A. 1980. The spatial component of archaeological data: Off-site methods and some preliminary results from the Amboseli Basin, southern Kenya. Pages 39–40 in R.E. Leakey & B.E. Ogot (eds), Proceedings of the 8th Panafrican Congress of Prehistory and Quaternary Studies, Nairobi, September 1977. Nairobi: Louis Leakey Memorial Institute for African Prehistory.

Haupt P. 2012. Landschaftsarchäologie: Eine Einführung. Stuttgart: Theiss.

Al-Jahwari N.S. 2008. Settlement patterns, development and cultural change in the northern Oman peninsula: A multi-tiered approach to the analysis of long-term settlement trends. PhD thesis, Durham University. http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/1357/

Kroll S. & Yule P. 2013. The Early Iron Age fort at Lizq, Sultanate of Oman. Zeitschrift für die Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen 5: 159–220.

Lancaster W. & Lancaster F. 2010. Pottery makers and pottery users: In Ras al-Khaimah Emirate and Musandam Wilayat of Oman, and around Ra’s al-Junayz in the south-east of Ja’alan Wilayat, Oman. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 21: 199–255.

Lemée M., Gernez G., Giraud J., Beuzen-Waller T. & Fouache É. 2013. Jebel al-’Aluya: An inland Neolithic settlement of the late fifth millennium BC in the Ādam area, Sultanate of Oman. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 43: 197–212.

Power T. 2015. A first ceramic chronology for the late Islamic Arabian Gulf. Journal of Islamic Archaeology 2: 1–33.

Reimer P., Austin W., Bard E., Bayliss A., Blackwell P., Bronk Ramsey C. … Talamo S. 2020. The IntCal20 Northern Hemisphere radiocarbon age calibration curve (0–55 cal kBP). Radiocarbon 62.

Righetti S. 2015. Les cultures du Wadi Suq et de Shimal dans la péninsule omanaise aux deuxième millénaire avant notre ère. Évolution des sociétés du Bronze moyen et du Bronze récent. PhD thesis, Université Paris 1, Panthéon Sorbonne. [Unpublished.]

Schmidt C., Döpper S., Kluge J., Petrella S., Ochs U., Kirchhoff N. … Walter M. 2021. Die Entstehung komplexer Siedlungen im Zentraloman. Archäologische Untersuchungen zur Siedlungsgeschichte von Al-Khashbah. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Schreiber J. 1998. Die Siedlungsarchitektur auf der Halbinsel Oman vom 3. bis zur Mitte des 1. Jahrtausends v. Chr. Altertumskunde des Vorderen Orients 9. Münster: Ugarit.

Weisgerber G. 1981. Mehr als Kupfer in Oman – Ergebnisse der Expedition 1981. Der Anschnitt. Mitteilungsblatt der Vereinigung der Freunde von Kunst und Kultur im Bergbau 33: 174–263.

Živković J., Power T., Georgakopoulou M. & López J.C.C. 2019. Defining new technological traditions of late Islamic Arabia: A view on Bahlā ware from al-Ain (UAE) and the lead-barium glaze production. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11: 4697–4709.



How to Cite

Döpper, S. (2022). Walk the line: the 2020 field season of the Al-Mudhaybi Regional Survey. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 51, 157–167. Retrieved from https://archaeopresspublishing.com/ojs/index.php/PSAS/article/view/595

Most read articles by the same author(s)