Kuwait’s massive archaeological potential remains largely untapped

By Khaled Al-Abdulhadi

KUWAIT: Kuwait is a site of hidden archeological treasures that could help establish the country’s true heritage and give it a cultural presence, which will add to its identity and further establish its place in the world as a sovereign nation. In Kuwait, excavations started in 1957, when the British administrator at the time invited a Danish exploration mission to Failaka Island.

Archeology is a field which excavates and studies ancient artifacts that belong to any given region. The Middle East and more specifically the Fertile Crescent is one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in the world, which means that it is a region incredibly rich with artifacts that have yet to be discovered. The importance of archeology should not be underestimated, as it could largely improve tourism in the country, which can in turn benefit the economy.

Tourism is known to be an important factor that contributes to the country’s GDP. Furthermore, almost all countries with the largest revenues from tourism have a well-established collection of archeological discoveries spread across their many museums. In fact, museums see this as an incredibly important addition, and go to the extent of excavating sites in other countries to bring back artifacts to display in their museums. Countries are willing to trade these discoveries as well.

Kuwait is largely underrated in the amount of archeological finds it contains, which have existed for thousands of years, from before the start of the Sumerian civilization, the first civilization in the world, with the Ubaid culture, until the many historical periods encompassing the Dilmun civilization, to the times of Alexander the Great in Failaka, to the early Islamic period in Kadima near what is now Jahra, to the Abbasids during the Islamic Golden Age and many more, given its proximity to the important basin of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as well as being a stop for Makkah-bound pilgrims coming from the east.

Dr Majed Al-Mutairi attests to this in his PhD thesis. “Kuwait was not isolated in the past, but it had many ongoing and established relationships with other regions,” he wrote. There is an argument to be made that despite its size, the land underneath Kuwait contains many hidden treasures that should be discovered and displayed to the world, given its strategic location in the Old World, linking the Far East with Europe.

“From an archaeological perspective, Kuwait has not yet been fully explored. Although we have found many important archaeological locations, there are still more exciting sites to be discovered,” Mutairi added in his thesis. Moreover, according to excavations in 2018-19 conducted by the Kuwait-Georgian archeological mission and published by Wiley Online Library, “the largest proportion of archeological evidence dates back to the Islamic period, as the society was connected to fishing, stock-farming and agriculture.” Two water collection systems were identified — shallow filtration well pits and an underground water collection system within settlements in Failaka.

Therefore, it is important to have further excavations in these areas to add to Kuwait’s heritage. These sites are also in danger, since there are ongoing plans to develop areas that are rich in archeological sites, such as Subiya, Failaka and others as part of the New Kuwait 2035 vision. However, these developments are important to Kuwait’s future and vital to the country’s efforts to diversify its economy and ensure a sustainable future. These should not stop, but the government needs to take great care in infrastructure works, as these sites could be of vital importance to the cultural heritage of Kuwait.

Kuwait, given its strategic location throughout history, has been an area of various interactions between cultures that resulted in an incredible number of archeological sites that have not yet been fully discovered. Further discoveries will add to Kuwait’s cultural heritage, while Kuwait will also gain financially from the improvement of its existing museums and influx of tourism as well as boosting its tourism industry, which it presently lacks.

The post Kuwait’s massive archaeological potential remains largely untapped appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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