Ancient grave discovered in Wadi Debayan
DOHA IN A major archeological development in Qatar, an unmarked grave has been discovered at Wadi Debayan, an important site with human occupation dating back to about 7,500 years.
The exploration of Wadi Debayan, situated on northwestern Qatar to the south of the site of Al Zubara and the Ushayriq peninsula, is part of the Remote Sensing and Qatar National Historical Environment Record (QNHER) Project.
“We have come across one burial, probably a full skeleton and though we cannot say that we have a cemetery there, it is a fair possibility,” Richard Cuttler, project co-director, said during a site visit.
QNHER is being developed as part of the remote sensing project, a joint initiative between the Qatar Museums Authority, under the guidance of Faisal al Naimi, head of antiquities, and the University of Birmingham, where Cuttler is a research fellow.
“The grave was a very surprising find that came out of one of the several test pits. We have seen some pieces of the tibia, one of the two leg bones, which shows the skeleton is in a crouched position typical of Neolithic burials” he explained.
Given that the current season’s exploration, which started in January, has been wound up due to the onset of summer, more work on the grave would be done the next season, scheduled from October.
“The bone fragments are very fragile and we need to sit back and think how to go about this. We also need to consult some osteologists and get more information,” Cuttler said.
By working with a complete skeleton or even bone fragments, osteologists can determine facts including the deceased individual’s age, sex, diet and illnesses.
“The only other site I can think in the Gulf similar to this is the one at Jebel Al Buhais in Sharjah, the UAE, and there they had Neolithic cemeteries with no markers on the surface,” the expert recalled.
Cuttler has worked as an archaeologist for over 25 years, directing projects across many countries including Qatar, the UAE, Libya, Georgia, Norway and Italy.
Wadi Debayan, one of the earliest Neolithic-Chalcolithic sites in the Gulf, has beneath its surface some of the earliest known structures in Qatar.
The fact that the site had human inhabitation as early as 7,500 years ago was proved scientifically last summer when samples from one of the post holes were radio carbon dated.
“When we first found the site, we thought may be we have just got a flint scatter here, but when we began excavation we found lots of fire pits and many post holes”, explained Naimi.
Evidence so far indicates that Wadi Debayan had about 3,000 years of occupation. It may not be the same people or continuous occupation.