Home World Archaeology shock: Brutal ‘hardline’ reality for researchers in Middle East laid bare

Archaeology shock: Brutal ‘hardline’ reality for researchers in Middle East laid bare

0


Until achieving independence, many countries in the Middle East were unable to excavate and locate their histories. When emancipation came, along with the return of plundered antiquities from Western nations, the Middle East was able to reclaim its identity. Yet, with independence, sham elections, despot leaders and near-totalitarian regimes, archaeology in the Middle East has been disturbed by political unrest.

This adds to several nations which, in pursuit of cementing their own ideological and religious beliefs, have destroyed the archaeological record of their own countries.

No place is this more prevalent than in Saudi Arabia.

There, with the word of King Salman who doubles up as Prime Minister, much of the nations Ottoman history has been razed to the ground.

This sort of destruction is but one issue archaeologists face when searching for lost treasures in the Middle East.

Archaeology latest: Researchers find obstacles everywhere while excavating in the Middle East

Archaeology latest: Researchers find obstacles everywhere while excavating in the Middle East (Image: GETTY)

Middle East news: Ancient relics lay all around the Middle East given its rich history

Middle East news: Ancient relics lay all around the Middle East given its rich history (Image: GETTY)

As Andrew Petersen, director of research in Islamic Archaeology at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, explained to Express.co.uk, he and his colleagues face several other, often more intense, issues surrounding their work, including the potential threat to life.

Of the problems he has experienced, he said: “At its most basic, you could have no access to the country in the first place, despite knowing there’s stuff to be found there.

“I was meant to be going to Basra in Iraq this year but couldn’t because of COVID-19, yet before that I was unable to go because of rioting.

JUST INArchaeologists stunned by ‘most valuable shipwreck ever’

Mecca: Saudi Arabia has particularly drawn criticism for its destruction of Ottoman history

Mecca: Saudi Arabia has particularly drawn criticism for its destruction of Ottoman history (Image: GETTY)

“I work in Qatar which is fairly easy, but again there are disputes between the gulf nations; but surprisingly, one of the hardest places to work is Turkey – they’ve got a very hardline approach and attitude to foreign researchers, it’s hard to ado anything at all there.”

Dr Petersen explained the very nature of archaeology – that researchers must be outside to work – is an extreme example of the complications involved.

He said: “In areas that may be outside the city but still very populated, you don’t quite know what’s going to happen.”

DON’T MISS

Churchill’s ‘secret army’ exposed after workers find lost bunker [INSIGHT]
Archaeologists’ discovery of ‘hybrid beasts’ from bloody sacrifice’ [ANALYSIS] 
Archaeology breakthrough: Treasure-laden shipwreck from Crusades-era 
[REPORT] 

Medina news: Medina, an area rich in Ottoman history, has also faced partial historical destruction

Medina news: Medina, an area rich in Ottoman history, has also faced partial historical destruction (Image: GETTY)

Africa: Archaeologists also often find it hard in North Africa where civil unrest is likely

Africa: Archaeologists also often find it hard in North Africa where civil unrest is likely (Image: GETTY)

Despite the tough conditions, Dr Petersen and many others often reap the rewards of excavating in such tense environments.

He revealed how, when digging in a remote area on Qatar’s north coast, he came across an untouched and almost pristine Ottoman settlement.

The moment, he said, was special: “We were working our way to the location and we found some mounds that, really, only looked like an area that hadn’t been cleaned for a while – there were lots of plastic bottles and bits of rubbish.

Archaeology history: Some of the greatest ever finds by researchers

Archaeology history: Some of the greatest ever finds by researchers (Image: Express Newspapers)

“But, the more we dug, the more we found, and eventually uncovered a small town there which was completely forgotten about, it was quite an exciting excavation because we found all sorts of evidence of how people lived, of houses, a palace, a boatyard, mosques.

“What was especially interesting was that even though it’s not that old, the only thing we know about the site comes from archaeology; from our excavations.

Terrorism: A before and after picture of the ruins of history committed by terrorists in Syria

Terrorism: A before and after picture of the ruins of history committed by terrorists in Syria (Image: GETTY)

“If we hadn’t done the work there nobody would have known it existed or what people did there, and we had some quite good finds there – some jewellery, pottery from all over the world, from the far east and lots of different places.

“I got an idea of quite a cosmopolitan society on this deserted coast that people had not known about before, a place perhaps inhabited until the end of the 1700s, we’re not sure when it was founded, but we think from the 1300s to 1700s.”



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here