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Doha was founded 200 years ago, say archaeologists
Haya H Al Muhannadi
/ Categories: In the Media

Doha was founded 200 years ago, say archaeologists

In a pioneering effort to find origins of modern Doha, archaeologists have found evidence that the city was founded 200 years ago in the early 19th century.

Evidence of few houses each with a kitchen and two rooms and an alley has been found near the Qubib Mosque and near Musherib in the heart of Doha. Also pottery, coins, glass, animal and botanical remains were found in the area.

The first extensive excavations in Qatar has found huge amount of archaeology which reveals a sequence going back to the foundation of Doha, Dr Robert Carter, Senior Lecturer, University College of London-Qatar told

The Peninsula. The excavation site next to the Qubib Mosque lies between the Fardan Centre and the FANAR Centre, on the other side of Bank Street (Grand Hamad Avenue) from Souq Waqif. In 2013, the other excavation was conducted in Musherib.

“The archaeological evidence from the dig supports the idea that Doha was founded in the early 19th century (early 1800s),” said Dr Carter. “It is not important that Doha is only 200 years old — the period of Doha’s occupation that we excavated (19th and early 20th century) is incredibly important to this region — it is when nearly all the Gulf towns were founded,” he added.

The University College of London-Qatar’s ‘The origins of Doha’ project is a research about early settlements of Doha, through the Qatar National Research Fund. The excavations were carried out with Qatar Museums. The historic town located in (and under) central Doha appears to have been founded sometime in the first two decades of the 1800s.

Doha first appears on a map of 1823, and was said to have been founded after Bida’ (now parkland on the other side of the Emiri Diwan), which colonial British sources thought was founded around 1801, says Dr carter.

Specific aims include tracing of the changing physical extent and urban configuration of Bidda and Doha through time, using historic maps, aerial photographs and the excavation of archaeological deposits.

These excavations aim to uncover early, undocumented structures in Doha to help archaeologists understand the development of the city and the lives of early people who lived in these structures.

An analysis of the findings from core of Doha, including different phases of architecture, pottery, coins, glass, animal and botanical remains imported pottery, incense burners and merchant’s weights would give a detailed insight into people’s economic life and into everyday life in old Doha.

“The key analysis will finish before summer 2015... We are going to get to know a very good idea of what Doha was like when it was founded and how it changed from the 19th century,” said Dr Carter.

“We found a good sequence which could be from 1820s showing different phases of architecture. It’s a residential area. We know Doha was destroyed several times in the 19th century. When we get low remains heavily damaged, probably from the distraction episode. But we have also found a better preserved alley way, house with kitchens and rooms. That information will be the first evidence of to know what life had been in one of the Gulf pearling towns,” he added.

However, the rapid development of Doha adds urgency to this work, as much of the buried heritage relating to the original occupation of Doha is highly threatened.

The three-year funding by QNRF ends by 2015 and researchers of the ‘Origins of Doha Project’ expect to apply for an extension and expansion of work. Recently new historical evidence has come to light that suggests that Bida’ (not Doha as such) was not founded in 1801, but goes back at least to 1680. Excavations have not yet done at the Bidda area, which was a still a town until 2006. Also the researchers hope to investigate at places out of Doha, to compare.

“We are like to investigate Bidda, which has historical evidence of going back to 17th century, up to 200 years older,” said Dr Carter.

“We hope will continue to excavate to look into old Doha or it will be preserved without having deep excavations to put up buildings,” he added.

Also the researchers have found evidence of three clusters of well or major wells in Doha, by studying aerial images, from 1940s, which also they seek to analyse and find archeological evidence. THE PENINSULA

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