Frankfurt archaeologists investigate ‘lost cities’ in Oman

Early career researcher Stephanie Döpper awarded funding by Gerda Henkel Foundation to study abandoned mud-brick settlements in Oman

IMAGE

Credit: Stephanie Döpper

Goethe University is sending researchers to Oman: As the Gerda Henkel Foundation has announced, Dr. Stephanie Döpper will receive funds of almost € 300,000 for the duration of three years in the framework of its “Lost Cities” programme.

In Oman, the economic upturn of the past three decades thanks to oil and gas production has also had an impact on housing construction. In many cases, people have moved out of their traditional mud-brick settlements into new concrete houses nearby, yet without completely abandoning the original settlements: High time to preserve this cultural landscape. Stephanie Döpper is head of an interdisciplinary team of archaeologists, Islamic studies researchers and cultural sociologists from Frankfurt, Bochum and Leipzig. Together, they want to find out what social relevance the abandoned mud-brick settlements have for today’s society and for creating Oman’s identity.

To this end, the archaeologists in the project will be responsible over the coming years for mapping three mud-brick settlements in Central Oman and documenting the history of their buildings. This will take place in the framework of research visits lasting several months. In addition, by examining the artefacts they find, such as ceramic shards, they will be able to identify the former functions of the individual buildings in these settlements. Of particular significance here are their later uses, for example the repurposing of a house as a goat shed. The research team’s hypothesis is that the abandoned mud-brick settlements are not only the deserted backdrops of a past way of life but instead still very lively and bustling places with a future.

Dr. Stephanie Döpper has been studying settlements and settlement systems in Central Oman for several years now, starting from the early Bronze Age in the 3rd millennium BC up until the mud-brick settlements in the research project approved by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, which were probably built in the 18th or 19th century AD and are today abandoned. In the back of her mind is always the question of what caused people in this region to settle and why such settlements were abandoned again.

Funding from the Gerda Henkel Foundation will make it possible to finance a doctoral scholarship and the research visits on site.

In total, the foundation has included 53 new research projects in its sponsorship programme, for which its committees approved € 8.6 million at their autumn meeting. This means support for researchers from almost 30 countries.

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Pictures can be downloaded under: http://www.uni-frankfurt.de/83770372

Captions:

Picture 1: House in the abandoned mud-brick settlement of Al-Mudhaybi. Photo: Stephanie Döpper

Picture 2: Ceramic vessels in the abandoned mud-brick settlement of Al-Mudhaybi. Photo: Stephanie Döpper

Picture 3: House with collapsed ceilings in the abandoned mud-brick settlement of Sinaw.

Picture 4: Abandoned mud-brick settlement of Sinaw. Photo: Stephanie Döpper

Picture 5: Abandoned mud-brick settlement of Sinaw. Photo: Stephanie Döpper

All pictures courtesy of Stephanie Döpper.

Further information: Dr. Stephanie Döpper, Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Archaeology, Westend Campus, Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1, D-60629 Frankfurt am Main, +49(0)69-798-32320, [email protected]

Media Contact
Stephanie Döpper
[email protected]

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