Historical Archaeology and Heritage in the Middle East  book cover
1st Edition

Historical Archaeology and Heritage in the Middle East

ISBN 9780367662318
Published September 30, 2020 by Routledge
256 Pages

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Book Description

Landlord villages dominated Iranian land tenure for hundreds of years, whereby one powerful landlord owned the village structures, surrounding farmland, and to all intents and purposes, the village occupants themselves, a system that in some cases remained in place up to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In Oman, mud-brick oases were home to most of the rural population right up until Sultan Qaboos came to power in 1970, and required inhabitants of mud-brick houses to relocate into new concrete block buildings.

Historical Archaeology and Heritage in the Middle East explores these everyday, rural communities in Iran and Oman in the 19th and 20th centuries, through a combination of building analysis, excavation, artefact analysis and ethnographic interviews. Drawing on the results of original field projects, the book considers new ways of exploring traditional lifeways, giving voice to hitherto largely ignored sections of the population, and offers new and different ways of thinking about how these people lived and what shaped their lives and the impact of major political and social changes on them. Place, memory and belonging are considered through the lens of material culture within these villages.

The first of its kind, the book brings together methodologies, research questions, and themes that have never been used or addressed in the Middle East. Helping to establish historical archaeology in the Middle East and providing new ways in which the memorable, quotidian past can be exploited for its social and economic value in contemporary community and heritage developments, it is an ideal resource for students, scholars and practitioners of historical archaeology and heritage of and in the Middle East.

Table of Contents

List of Figures


Notes on the Identification of Interviewees

1 Introduction

The aims of this book

Key concepts in this book: place, memory, belonging


The case studies

  The Iran project: Landlord Villages of the Tehran Plain

  Landlord villages of Iran

  Post revolution villages

  The Oman project: Bat Oasis Heritage Project

  Oman villages of the interior

  Housing changes in Oman


2 Recent histories of Iran and Oman

An outline of recent Iranian History

An outline of recent Omani history

Nation building, heritage, and place

  Iran: nation building by the Pahlavis

  Oman: nation building by Sultan Qaboos


3 An archaeology of place and memory

Archaeology is a way of understanding how people make place

The village plans

Place and power

Giving meaning to place

Place and religion

Public places

Place and memory

Post abandonment

  Landlord villages

  Bat Oasis


4 Memory, place and belonging

Place, archaeology and memory

Place and belonging under attack

Mudbrick and memory in Oman

Mudbrick and memory in Iran

  Kazemabad and Hosseinabad Sanghar memories

  Gach Agach memories

Discussion and conclusion

5 Heritage in the Middle East


UNESCO World Heritage in relation to the Middle East

Why is the Bat prehistoric archaeological landscape a WH site and not the Bat Oasis?

Heritage in the Middle East

National heritage in Oman

National heritage in Iran

Quotidian and fragmented heritage


6 Historical archaeology and heritage in the Middle East

Barriers to historical archaeologySo how should we go about setting up ‘good’ heritage and archaeology projects?

Community involvement




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Ruth Young is a Reader in Archaeology at the University of Leicester, UK. She is interested in the historical archaeology and heritage of the Middle East and South Asia and has directed and co-directed excavations and fieldwork in Iran, Lebanon, Oman, and Pakistan. Her recent publications include Post-Conflict Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (2017, Routledge), and The Archaeology of South Asia (2105).