Regional Survey – University of Copenhagen

English / Arabic

Regional Survey

Northern Qatar has a unique settlement history, which is largely governed by the availability of fresh water. The regional settlement pattern during the Islamic period is being characterized by QIAH as part of a large scale regional survey across northern Qatar. Using traditional methods of fieldwalking, on-site mapping and characterization, as well as oral history and aerial photography, the project seeks to situate Al Zubarah and other sites within their broader cultural and natural landscape.


Amongst the sites that have been mapped and explored are Qal’at Shuwail, Ain Mohammad, Yusufia, and Ruwais. Many other additional sites will be surveyed and mapped in the forthcoming seasons. Many sites feature small fortified homesteads or forts, which are commonly situated near artisan wells. These wells supported traditional systems of pastoral land-use, as well as coastal fishing villages, where there was no direct access to fresh water.


A study of the hydrology of northern Qatar carried out has shown how the settlement system depended on fresh water wells. This provides unique insights into long-term issues of sustainable land management and human-environmental relations in the Gulf region.