Settlement and Society in Pre-Modern Oman

This project compares various types of rural settlements in the Sultanate of Oman across four millennia with a focus on architecture, irrigation and traffic infrastructure and methods of agricultural production. The project studies patterns in the reactions of preindustrial societies on extreme environmental conditions and in decision-making processes leading to sustainable settlements.

The analysis of the settlements’ form and function is embedded in the study of social, economic and political networks in historical Oman and in the Indian Ocean. Relevant source texts in Arabic from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries are collected in a newly established database.

Finally, the project documents the present state of highly endangered oasis settlements in the Sultanate using state-of-the-art 3D methods. Therefore, it also makes an important contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage.

On the project team's work during the first year, please see the report by Johann Büssow and Michaela Hoffmann-Ruf in Chroniques du manuscrit au Yémen 23 (January 2017), pp. 23-27.

The project's initial phase (2016-2018) has been funded by Tuebingen University’s Exploration Fund. Tuebingen University's Rectorate will support further fieldwork, archival work and publication of first results in 2018 by a 'bridging fund', with the aim of developing a grant proposal for a second project phase. A joint DFG grant proposal is currently under review.

Image: The Oasis town of Al-Ḥamrāʾ, Central Oman. Courtesy of Dr. Michaela Hoffmann-Ruf.