by Mutsuo Kawatoko
Excavation at the
Port City Site
We conducted an excavation of the fort and the residential quarter (color pl. 1-1 & 2). The former is an area of 85 square meters which has been dug since the 1st expedition in 1997. Excavations until the 6th expedition in 2002 revealed the outline of the fort and the characteristics of the artifacts. Through the previous excavations it was thought that the fort itself was constructed around the 6th century, but the excavated objects are concentrated in the period after the 9th century.
We started the excavation in the residential quarter which extends along
the sea to the west of the
It is quite possible that earlier artifacts were discarded when the fort was Islamized, but artifacts
in the residential quarter remain. Excavation in the residential quarter is important in order to clarify
the reason for these chronological differences and the characteristics of this site (pls. 1-3).
From the time we discovered the mosque in 1999 one of our purposes has
been to reveal the time of its construction and the history and features of the space where it was built.
In 2000 we took up the fallen
(pl. 6-1 & 3) without destroying it and closely examined Building Block 20 adjoining the northeast and
southeast walls. In 2001 we closely examined Building Block 12, which is situated in the innermost recesses
(northeast end) of the central street, and the main gate at the southwest end in order to understand the
characteristics of the central street on which the mosque fronts. Then, in 2002 we carefully examined
the main gate and the central street, Building Blocks 15 and 18, and Streets 1,4 and 5 in order to reveal
how the quarter, including the mosque, was constructed (pls. 4, 24-1).
In 2003 we carefully examined a part of Building Blocks 3 and 10 opposite the mosque confronting the central street (pls. 7, 24-2). This was for the purpose of clarifying the character of the portico-like extension, which narrowed the central street, found in the survey of 2002, and the nature of the space in front of the mosque. Moreover, in the fort, we remeasured the fallen part of the northeast outer wall that we had excavated in order to gauge the height of this outer wall.
The Outer Walls
When we laid out trenches to check the scale of the fort and made methodical excavations in 1998, the collapsed outer walls were excavated outside the northeast wall of the fort Above all, the collapsed wall (pl. 24-3) outside Rooms No. 17-3 and 17-4, situated between Tower 4 and Tower 6, can be taken as an example because it was in a good state of preservation as well as the wall excavated at Tower 4. The excavated plane seemed like a pavement of sun-dried bricks, and thick layers of coral blocks were found under it (pl. 24-4) . It is confirmed from the remaining outer walls of the fort that the lower structure consists of coral blocks, and the upper structure consists of sun-dried bricks inside and coral blocks outside. Therefore, it is clear that the excavated collapsed wall was the outer wall of the fort.
Figure 5 is the plan of the collapsed wall outside Rooms No. 17-3 and 17-4. It shows that the height of the wall was about 4.5 m. Since Building Block 17 is the unexcavated area, we measured the height from the floor to the top of the remaining outer wall of Room No. 7 of Building Block 7 which had already been excavated. It is almost 2.1 m, so it suggests that the wall stood higher than 6.5 m on the northeast side of the fort (pl. 24-5). As this fort is located on an elevation of 7 m, it is thought to have offered a grand view from the sea(pl. 24-6).
We started this work as a part of the restoration study of qibla
wall of the mosque (pl. 6) which has script, plant and geometric decoration, but it is unfinished. In this connection, the
is 48.7 cm in width and 31.8 cm in depth. The remaining brickwork is composed of 15 layers and is 86.5 cm in height. The direction showed by the
is 41°18'49" southward along the east-west axis (pl. 25-1, 2 & 3). We will continue this work in 2004 and intend to make a restoration plan focused on the mosque.
The Central Street and the Square-like Space (pls. 7 & 8)
The central street is 2.18 m in width at the second door of the main gate, its starting point, and widens to 4.47 m at the mosque. The survey in 2002 revealed that the central street at Building Blocks 20 and 18 become shaped like a square. It also revealed that there was a portico-like extension in front of Rooms No. 3-10, 3-12 and 10-1 on the third face of the central street (pl. 13). Each projects 1.12 m, 0.99 m and 1.51 m respectively. Also, an incomplete portico extended 1.08 m in front of Room No. 3-9 (pl. 25-4).
We continued the close examination in 2003 and, as a result, the southwest part of the portico of Room No. 3-9 was found. But the bricks of the southwest part were worn down several centimeters and were partially missing (pl. 25-5).
We also excavated the area on the opposite side of Building Blocks 20 and 18 with the central street between them. As a result of this, an open space covered with layers consisting mainly of sand was discovered on the northeast of Room No. 10-1 (pl. 25-6). The space is so wide that its area is 12.4 m x 5.7 m. In dimensions, the central street and another space facing Building Blocks 18 and 20, or, the space enclosed by Building Blocks 10, 1, 22, 18 and 20, is a space of 12.4 m x 11.5 m (pl. 25-7). This shows that a square was formed adjacent to the mosque.
The sequence of layers of this space is almost the same as that of the central street (pls. 13, 25-8). The first layer is thick sand, the third and lower layers are level accumulations (pls. 8-3, 26-1). We found that goat droppings and ground fireplaces were concentrated in the third and lower layers, which allows the presumption that many people gathered in this space (pl. 26-2).
Streets 6 and 7
Streets 6 and 7 were discovered in the process of excavating the central street and the square-like space adjoining it. Plate 7 shows that Street 6 was on the southwest of Room No. 3-10 and that Street 7 was between Rooms No. 10-6 and No. 1-1.
While closely examining the central street we dug a trench of 2 m x 2.5 m along the southwest wall of Rooms No. 3-10 and 3-7. We had already confirmed that the southeast wall of Room No. 3-10, or the outer wall on the side of the central street, did not extend toward the southwest, so it was to confirm whether the wall separating those two rooms extended to the southwest As a result, only the wall running from southeast to northwest was found at the southwest end of the trench. No wall running from northeast to southwest was found. The distance between the southwest wall of Rooms No. 3-10 and 3-7 and the southwest wall inside the trench was 2.03 m. So, to judge by this distance and the layout of the walls which we had exposed by removing the surface soil in the first season, we supposed that this had been a street and would have crossed the central street at right angles, so we named it Street 6 (pl. 26-3).
In the process of excavating to locate the rooms on the northwest side of the central street, an accumulation of thick sand was encountered on the northeast of Room No. 10-1. This sand layer had already been recognized in the vertical section of the central street. It was wider than expected and formed an area of 12.4 m x 5.7 m without buildings. The diligent examination of this space revealed that the northeast wall of Room No. 10-6 and southeast wall of Room No. 1-1 were built of coral blocks and were 1.76 m apart (pls. 8-1, 26-4). It was established that the layers of this area had been level accumulations and were comparatively thin. Based on these facts we supposed that this part would have been a street and have crossed the central street at right angles, so we named it Street 7 (pl. 26-5).
As a result of this, we found that Streets 4 and 6 and Streets 5 and 7 respectively formed crossings with the central street, although they were not aligned with each other.
Building Blocks 3 and 10
In 2003 we excavated and meticulously observed Rooms No. 3-8, 3-9, 3-10, 3-12 and 10-1 which face the mosque with the central street between, and Rooms No. 3-1, 3-2 and 3-7 which are located at the back of the above-described rooms.
Room No. 3-10 has a portico fronting the central street. The entrance is 1.51 m in width. An alabaster plinth was set at the southwestern part of the entrance and an alabaster column 23 cm in diameter was erected on it (pl. 26-6). A foundation built of limestone nubs is the evidence that the same plinth had also existed on the northeast side, but it was missing at the time of our excavation. The southwest wall of the room was destroyed. Traces showed that a doorway to Room No. 3-9 had been made and blocked later. A small room of 0.81/0.82 m x 0.90/1.00 m was made at the back of this room (pl. 26-7 & 8).
Room No. 3-9 has a portico on the central street side. This room is 2.55/2.54 m x 3.27/3.21 m. It has a doorway 1.00 m wide in the northeast part of the southeast wall. There is a portico of 3.28 m x 1.08 m. The masonry of the walls is generally coarse, a feature particularly true of the masonry of the northeast and southeast walls (pl. 27-1).
Room No. 3-8 is divided in two: A (3.55/3.56 m x 1.65/1.69 m) and B (2.16/2.15 m x3.30 m). A has a doorway 1.00 m wide in the southwest part of the southeast wall, and B has a doorway 1.07 m wide in the northeast part of the southeast wall. Both have threshold boards, but no porticos were found (pl. 27-2). The masonry of the partitioning wall between these two rooms and that of the southeast walls was extremely poor (pl. 27-3 & 4). The remains of a double oven was discovered in the south corner of Room No. 3-8B (pl. 27-5). In addition, a large quantity of painted plaster was found in Room No. 3-8B (pl. 27-6). In the restoration work of qibla wall (southeast wall) we noticed that the plaster of Room No. 3-8B could be matched with the plaster excavated inside the mosque. That is to say, it is clear that the plaster on the wall of the mosque was torn off and discarded in this room.
Room No. 3-12 is 4.26/4.17 m x 2.13/2.23 m, and partitioned in two toward the back, A and B, by a wall of half a brick in thickness. The doorway was built in the northeast part of the southeast wall, a wall of coarse masonry. A portico of 2.29 m x 1.51/1.42 m was found outside (pl. 27-7). Both the southwest and northeast walls were added later. Also, near the doorway of this room a large quantity of plaster was discovered (pl. 27-8).
Room No. 10-1 is 3.40/3.34 m x 2.55/2.47 m, with a doorway with a threshold board in the northeast part of the southeast wall (pl. 28-1). There is a portico of 2.19 m x 1.51/1.42 m outside. A gate post of date palm tree with a diameter of 22 cm was erected on the north end (pl. 28-2 & 3). The masonry of this room is better than that of other rooms fronting the central street (Rooms No. 3-8, 9, 10 &12). The southwest and northeast walls were added later. A large quantity of plaster was also found in this room (pl. 28-4). There was a building feature of sun-dried bricks 90 cm deep at the back of this room (pl. 28-5), but it was not examined in 2003.
Room No. 3-2 is to the northwest of Room No. 3-12 and the two rooms are connected without a partitioning wall. Room No. 3-2 is a misshaped room of 3.84/3.43 m x 3.57/3.40 m (pl. 28-6), and there is no partition between this and the other room. The doorway to this room is located on the southeast side. When this room was reconstructed the room apparently took this shape. Ceiling beams and roofing material, such as palm-tree branches and mats woven of palm-tree leaves, were excavated in a state of collapse (pl. 28-7). The final coating and undercoating on the northeast part of the northwest wall and southeast part of the southwest wall were recognized. The undercoating has traces of a rough press by pallet (pl. 28-8). There seems to have been a method whereby the final coating was made to adhere to the undercoating.
Room No. 3-1 is on the northwest of Room No. 3-8. Room No. 3-1 is a misshaped room of 3.33/3.36 m x 3.71/4.28 m (pl. 29-1). There is a partition of half a brick in thickness at the one-third point of the eastern part of the room (pl. 29-2). It was further divided in two at the center of the partition. A bench-like structure 39 cm deep existed in the space of 1.12 m x 1.74/1.67 m in the northwest part. The structure is in contact with the partitioning wall at the southeast (pl. 29-3). A rich trove of 808 registered items of artifacts was unearthed in this room (pl. 29-4). This is 33 percent of the registered artifacts in the fort.
The masonry of this room is good. A doorway was located in the northwest part of the southwest wall. Coral blocks were used for the foundation in the north corner of this room (Room No. 3-1 C). Parts of the roofing material were found in situ at the northeast wall and the northeast part of the southeast wall. It is considered to be possibly as awning. Palm-tree branches were inserted in the walls at regular intervals and mats woven of palm-tree leaves were laid on them. The height slopes from north (1.69 m) to south (1.50 m). Judging from the declination, it may be satisfactory to regard it as a shed roof of the partition rather than the roof (pl. 9-1 to 9-4).
Room No. 3-7 is a long and narrow room of 4.05/4.06 m x 2.31/2.26 m (pl. 29-5). There is a doorway 0.95 m wide in the southeast part of the southwest wall. A partitioned space of 1.20 m x 1.35 m is just by the northwest side of the doorway. On the west corner of this space is a structure which is quarter of a hemisphere in shape about 75 cm in inside diameter. It is quite possibly a tandoor oven (pl. 29-6). There is a partitioning wall 0.83/0.98 m deep in the northeast part. The thickness of the wall is half a brick, and the center part is missing. The masonry of this room is good. A niche for placing things was made in the southeast wall. The bottom of this niche is 52 cm from the floor; it is 20 cm wide, 25 cm high and 23 cm deep. The top is arch-shaped (pl. 29-7).
The finishing coat of the walls remains on almost all of this room. Cement-mortar was applied for the undercoating and mud-mortar used to cover it.
Through examination of the excavation data it is dear that the masonry of the rooms facing the central street is coarse and that of the rooms on the northwest of the rooms along the central street is good. It is also clarified that porticos were constructed on the third face of the central street. In addition, it revealed that the poorly-made walls of the rooms facing the central street were added later to the southeast walls of Rooms No. 3-2, 3-1 and 3-7.
Judging from this examination it is believed that the rooms facing the central street did not exist when the mosque was constructed and there was a square about 9 m in front of the mosque and another square of about 12.5 m x 11.5 m was connected beyond it (pls. 29-8, 30-1). We found that the broad space in front of the mosque was taken over and inferior buildings were constructed there later. They were in use at the time of the destruction of the mosque or afterward (pl. 30-2).
Preservation work was done to the southeast side of the outer walls of the fort including the east gate, the foundation of the gate post and the threshold board of Room No. 3-10, and the gate post of Room No. 10-1, etc.
The Residential Quarter
We selected an excavation area 600 m southwest of the fort in the residential quarter (pls. 3, 31-1 & 2). We dug 5 x 5 grids (1 grid is 5 m x 5 m), or 25 grids of 625 m2 (pls. 10, 31-3). As a result, we found that the features of this area are different from those of the fort. The following are facts accumulated from this season's excavation and I intend to either confirm or correct them, and also to add to them according to the progress of further excavations.
◇The building materials are coral blocks and sun-dried bricks. There are three types of masonry: (1) coral blocks only; (2) sun-dried bricks only; (3) coral blocks in the lower part and sun-dried bricks in the upper part. Taking Building block K1 for example, type (1) constitutes the south and west walls of Room No. K1-3, the east and north walls of Room No. K1-4, the east wall of Room No. K1-5, the west wall of Room No. K1-6, the east wall of Room No. K1-7, the north, south, east and west walls of Room No. K1-8 and the west wall of Room No. K1-11; type (2) constitutes the north, south, east and west walls of Room No. K1-2, the north wall of Room No. K1-3, the south wall of Room No. K1-4, the north and south walls of Room No. K1-5, the east, south and north walls of Room No. K1-6 and the east, south and north walls of Room No. K1-10; type (3) constitutes the east, west and north walls of Room No. K1-1, the west and north walls of Room No. K1-7, the west wall of Room No. K1-10 and the east, south and north walls of Room No. K1-11.
◇The proportion of length to width of the bricks is generally 2 to 1, but irregular-shaped bricks were found in the north outer wall of Building Block K1, the south outer wall and the west outer wall of Building Block K2. Their sizes are 45 cm x 32 cm, 43 cm x 30 cm, etc. As for the length, bricks ranging between 40 and 49 cm, centering on 43 cm, were the most, but examples of 38 cm and 54 cm were also noted.
◇The wall in the northeast corner of the excavated area was composed of tile-shaped sun-dried bricks and triangular sun-dried bricks. The wall increases in thickness toward the north (pl. 31-7).
◇Walls of tile-shaped sun-dried bricks of 30 cm x 30 cm were found in the northwest
corner of the area. This type of brick was used in the Byzantine period and examples were found at the
site (pl. 31-8).
◇Baked bricks of 22 cm x 9 cm were excavated in Room No. K1-9, but they were not parts of buildings.
◇Five double walls were found. Particularly for Rooms No. K1-2 to K1-6, and K1-13 to K1-15 in the central part of the excavated area, the north, west and south sides are enclosed with double walls (pl. 32-1), while the east side facing the street is a single wall. In this way, the space enclosed with double walls is thought to constitute one residential unit.
◇Based on the presence of double walls, more than six residential units existed in the excavated area.
◇Two streets were discerned on the east and west sides of the excavated area. The east street K1 runs east of Room No. K1-9 and is 1.6 m-3.2 min width (pl. 32-2). The west street K2 runs west of K1-11 and its width is 1.85 m (pl. 32-3).
◇15 tandoor ovens (pl. 32-4) and one triple oven (
pl. 32-5) were discovered in the excavated area, along with many spots of fireplace debris and ash accumulation.
The number of fireplaces and the ash accumulation spots are evidence that cooking was frequently done
inside and outside of the rooms. In the above-mentioned residential unit K1, for example, four tandoor
ovens remained in a space of 75 m2
◇Numerous seashells were unearthed in all of the excavated area. In particular, a concentration of spiral shells was found in Room No. K1-2 and bivalves in Room No. K1-7(pl. 32-6). This shows that shells were frequently gathered for food and the lids as raw material for incense.
◇Digging more deeply in Rooms No. K1-7 (pl. 32-7 & 8) and No. K2-4 (pl. 33-1) revealed that other buildings had existed under the excavated residences (pl. 33-2, 3 & 4).
◇Coins, glass weights, and disk weights dating from the latter half to the end of the 8th century were unearthed from the excavated area. The oldest item among the dated artifacts from the fort is A H. 198 (A. D. 813/4). A gold coin of the Abbasid period (color pl. 3-1 &2, pl. 33-5) minted in A H. 181 (A. D. 797/8), a disk weight (color pl. 3-3, pl. 33-6) manufactured in A H. 162 (A D. 779) and a glass weight (pls. 17-2, 36-9) manufactured in A H. 179 or 180 (A D. 795 or 796) were found in the residential quarter.
◇Among the artifacts were 2,115 pieces of earthenware and 92 pieces of glazed pottery. In the fort the earthenware was 370 and the glazed pottery was 528. The proportion of earthenware to glazed pottery is 23:1 in the residential quarter and 0.7:1 in the fort. This is clear evidence that the residential quarter functioned as living space.
◇A large quantity of earthenware characteristic of the pre-Islamic periods was also excavated.
Our future excavations will reveal the aspects of the residential quarter
more precisely and depict the complete picture of the port city of
as it is at full-length.
Several tens of thousands of objects were taken up by grid and layer, and 6,989 registered objects were individually taken up after 3-dimensional data recording. The registered objects of the fort are 2,426. They consist of 370 pieces of earthenware, 528 pieces of glazed pottery, 427 tools, 368 cosmetic sets and accessories, 486 pieces of glassware, 81 pieces of building material, two coins, two water-jug filters, one stone object, 11 fabrics, 14 documents, eight oil lamps, 110 pieces of metalware, seven pieces of Chinese ware, and 11 natural objects.
The registered objects of the residential quarter are 4,563. They consist of 2,115 pieces of earthenware, 92 pieces of glazed pottery, 978 tools, 50 cosmetic sets and accessories, 1,111 pieces of glassware, six glass weights, 10 pieces of building material, nine coins, 11 water-jug filters, 11 fabrics, eight documents, four oil lamps, 65 pieces of metalware, one piece of Chinese ware, and 92 natural objects.
It is noteworthy concerning the artifacts from the fort that the registered number of earthenware (pls. 11-1 to 11-4, 34-1 to 34-5) is larger than that of glazed pottery (pls. 11-5 to 11-8 , 34-6 to 34-8). Beads constitute 340 among the 368 cosmetic sets and accessories. Other artifacts are 48 hand-turning millstones, 154 steatite vessels, and 136 iron nails.
Among these artifacts the following are mentioned as particularly significant
a Yüeh celadon of the 10th
centuries, a steatite vessel and lid (pls. 11-9, 10 &11, 34-9 & 10), some parts of bone furniture or parts
(pls. 12-1 & 2, 34-16 & 17),
a bone decorative plate (pls. 12-3, 34-15), a stone mold (pls. 12-5, 34-11), two glass perfume bottles
(pls. 12-12 & 13, 34-20 & 21), an alabaster stone vessel (pl. 12-4), a handle of a stone incense burner
(pl. 34-12), a wood spindle whirl (pls. 12-6, 34-13), and a kohl stick made of slate-pencil urchin (pls.
12-14, 34-14), etc.
It should be noted concerning the artifacts from the residential quarter
that the number of glazed pottery is 92 (pls. 15-7 to 15-9, 36-1 to 36-3), whereas the number of earthenware
pieces is 2,115 (pls. 14-1 to 15-6, 35-1 to 35-14). Otherwise, there are 1,111 pieces of glassware concentrated
in the 9th
While 340 beads were unearthed from the fort, only 16 were unearthed. Thirty-five hand-turning millstones,
464 steatite vessels, and 378
iron nails were unearthed.
The excavated earthenware in the residential quarter is different from that in the fort. It is characteristic of the artifacts from this quarter that the large-size jars (pls. 14-1 to 14-3, 35-1 to 35-3), miniature jars (pls. 14-5 to 14-7, 14-10, 35-4 to 35-7), red-polished earthenware (pls. 14-9, 35-8), and painted earthenware (pls. 15-1 to 15-5, 35-9 to 35-13) were unearthed in large quantity. In addition to these were earthenware with incised and stamped decoration (pls. 15-6, 35-14) and convex water-jug filters (pl. 36-5 & 6).
Besides these objects, the molded glazed.pottery of the 8th
century (pls. 15-7 & 8, 36-1 & 2), the
glazed pottery with pale green and purple colors (pls. 15-9, 36-3), the
celadon (pls. 15-10, 36-4), various kinds of steatite vessels (pls. 16-1 to 17-1, 36-7), and an ostracon
with ink writing in the
(pl. 36-8) are important
Some objects whose dates can be determined were unearthed from the residential quarter. RGW-K6 is a disk weight made in 779, RGW-K1 is a glass weight made in 795 or 796, and RC-K6 is a gold coin minted in 797/8 in Iraq.
About the glassware please refer to the report by Y. Shindo (pp. 51-53,pls. 12-7 to 12-13, 18-1 to 18-13, 34-18 to 34-21, 36-14 to 36-19).