Rustaq Survey

Submitted by admin on 25/10/2013
Person Name: 
Derek Kennet

In the winter of 2013/14 an archaeological survey of the Rustaq oasis on the Batinah Coast will begin.

The survey, which is being coordinated by Dr Derek Kennet at the Department of Archaeology at Durham University, is a collaboration between the Anglo-Omani Society, Durham University, Dr Nasser al-Jahwari at the Department of Archaeology at Sultan Qaboos University and the Ministry of Heritage and Culture of the Sultanate of Oman.

The Batinah is one of the most fertile parts of Oman. Probably for this reason, it contains a wealth of archaeological evidence reflecting the density of ancient populations in the area. However, it is also one of the least explored areas of Oman – largely because the archaeological remains are less well preserved and in some cases have been buried by the rapid alluvial deposition that occurs in the area. Nonetheless, some notable sites such as Suhar are known.

Rustaq is another site that is likely to have had a significant ancient history. The name ‘Rustaq’ itself suggests a possible presence in the Sasanian period and this is supported by the local tradition which attributes the oldest tower in the fort to one of the Sasanian king-of-kings, Khusraw, in the 6th or 7th centuries.

The aim of the survey is to begin the process of a detailed archaeological exploration of the oasis and a careful recording of what is found before it is lost forever. The survey will be carried out by students from Durham University and Sultan Qaboos University. In the case of the Durham students, the project will give many of them a chance to make their first visit to the Sultanate. We hope that they will become as attached to Oman and the Omanis as many of us are.

The first season is scheduled to take place this December/January.

Derek Kennet

1. A Google Earth satellite image of the Rustaq oasis and surrounding area showing the extent of date palm cultivation and modern building.

2. View out over the modern oasis of Rustaq from the fort.

3. The oldest tower in the fort, known as ‘Burj kisra’ – or ‘the tower of Khusraw’. According to Miles, there is a local tradition that this tower was built by the Sasanian king of kings, Khusraw in the 6th or 7th centuries.