The Arabic symbols were discovered in Qatar’s northwest desert. Qatar Foundation
Scientists believe they have found evidence of ancient Islamic ruins in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar.
The Archaeological Mission of Qatar recovered a set of 55 multiple-sided Arabic symbols found carved into the red-brown desert soil. Each word was written with two clumps of stone, one parallel line and one hodgepodge of slabs, branches and blades that took up the width of the place they were found.
“This ancient engraving found in Qatari sand is very important for the researchers working here in Qatar. It adds to the rich list of geophysical structures that a number of the cities of the Persian Gulf have revealed during the last decade,” archaeologist David Blakeman, of the Ministry of Archaeology, told Doha News.
Qatar Foundation, which oversees Qatar Foundation University, reported the discovery in a presentation at the Kuwait International Humanities Conference in Doha.
According to the Qatari government, the location of the site has remained a mystery. The location was not identified.
According to the Qatari government, the Arabic symbols were found in the northwestern desert of the country, which was most likely at the time of the ninth and 10th centuries. Archaeologists said that the archaeological site could be of Persian or Byzantine origin, though the symbols would have belonged to Muslim people.
“Under the puzzling expedition of the ancestors of Qatari people, the text is being interpreted through the lens of the history of Qatari people. If we take into account the connection with various pre-Islamic faiths of the Qatari people, then we should also give potential meanings to the stone letters found in the ancient dig site,” Blakeman added.
Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News reported that Qatar Foundation began work in the area in 2011 and has spent at least $100 million in the field.
That commitment does not end with the dig. Even with the first three of QF’s 6.5-mile survey of Doha’s downtown, a total of 12 excavations have taken place since 2011.
As part of the study, the Qatari government established QF’s first cultural heritage fund to encourage further archaeological research of the tiny Persian Gulf state.
Qatar Foundation announced in December that it would partner with the National Geographic Society and the International Center for Islamic Studies for the next phase of a study of its souq to determine whether the ancient archeological deposits in the area were a part of a historical square in antiquity.
Based on an analysis of the status of the square, “it is likely that it served as a demarcation of two areas,” said Kenneth Schwartz, a geographer with the Pennsylvania State University College of Archaeology and Anthropology.
“It could be the location of a village perhaps serving as a village square, or could also be an area that supported a commune or town or mosque,” said Schwartz.
Schwartz added that “overlapping missions are common in regions that encompass local cultures or beliefs, whereas missions in more urban areas generally differ in scope and objectives.”
Two years ago, Qatar’s capital of Doha underwent a $43 billion development, including a new national stadium and a convention center, in preparation for World Cup 2022.
Qatar is already home to the world’s largest high-rise housing complex and the largest Islamic University in the world. Qatar Foundation was founded in 1989 to further the study of Islamic arts and sciences.
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected. The Qatari government considers the dig in the Persian Gulf state to be the first archaeological survey of its downtown since the 1960s.
David Gray is the Doha bureau chief for Fox News Channel and host of the nightly prime-time program “Fox and Friends al-Khali.”
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