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All information published on this web page are attributed authorship of Kuwaiti-Slovak Archaeological Mission and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License (unless otherwise stated).
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Peter Barta and Lucia Benediková

al-khidr_general_viewThe main focus of the Kuwaiti-Slovak Archaeological Mission (KSAM) activity is the Bronze Age site of Al-Khidr on the Failaka island. In the early 2nd millennium BC Failaka belonged to the Dilmun culture spread throughout the west coast of Arabian Gulf (east Saudi Arabia up to Kuwait and the adjacent islands). With its centre on the Island of Bahrain (The City of Qala’at al-Bahrain), Dilmun is thought to have played a significant role in the sea trade between the south Mesopotamian city states, the Arabian Peninsula and civilization of the Indus valley (Mohenjo-Daro) from the late 3rd until the first half of the 2nd millennium BC.

Al-Khidr is an inconspicuous, low settlement mound in the northwest of Failaka that has been known to yield the red-ridged Dilmun pottery for at least past 50 years ([1], p. 195-212). The mound stretches along the west shore of the shallow Al-Khidr bay, which offers still waters in almost northernmost outpost of the island swept by Shamal, the principal wind of Failaka. This natural harbour is in several works suggested to have served as a port in the past (e.g. [2]) and as such is known also among the elders of the island.

The investigations of the Dilmun settlement at Al-Khidr have been carried out since 2004. Beyond excavation, the project encompasses mapping, geophysics, environmental archaeology (archaeobotany, archaeozoology, physical anthropology), GIS and digital archaeology, conservation and restoration.

The main research tasks are:

  • to find out the extent, development and spatial organization of the settlement,
  • to establish the chronology of the settlement,
  • to collect evidence concerning the palaeo­environment and resources of the settlement,
  • to elucidate the role of the site (a port?) within the Early Dilmun world on Failaka and beyond (within the Gulf region),
  • to trace distinctive features of the settlement and its inhabitants,
  • to establish a plan for the conservation and restoration of uncovered finds and in situ remains.

The Kuwaiti-Slovak Archaeological Mission has also been active in surveying Failaka and in processing the obtained data for future presentation of archaeological and environmentally sites of interest. These activities were triggered by the planned governmental development project that will definitely change the character of the island and threaten known and unknown archaeological sites.

Selected archaeological sites on Failaka (Al-Quraniya, Al-Qusur, Al-Zor, F6, and Al-Awazim) were mapped and surveyed with the help of a GPS and total station. Topographic plans were prepared, the sites were photographed and surface finds were collected and catalogised. Geophysical prospection was carried out at these sites and they were also partially investigated from the point of view of environmental studies (building up of reference collections of plant macro- and micro-remains as well as animal bones) and ethnoarchaeology.



[1] Bibby, G. 1969: Looking for Dilmun. Alfred Knopf, New York.

[2] Patitucci, S. – Uggeri, G. 1984: Failakah. Insediamenti Islamici. Ricerche e scavi nel Kuwait. Rome.

Click to enlarge

Click on a map to see all known archaeological sites on Failaka island from the Bronze Age up to the present day.