In collaboration with Qatar Museums, the University of Copenhagen has been conducting excavation works at Al Zubarah, Qatar’s only World Heritage Site, since 2009. Excavation works at the site have revealed and identified the largest number of date presses ever discovered in Qatar and the region, including 27 date presses among which 11 presses in just one complex alone.
While date presses are common in the region, never have so many been excavated in such close proximity. The date presses (madaabis) at Al Zubarah were used to both produce syrup (dibs) but also to preserve the dates. These ridged plaster structures would have been piled high with sacks of dates, which squeezed the sticky syrup from the fruit into collection pots.
Al Zubarah Archaeological Site received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2013. Its remarkably pristine archaeological remains were recognised to offer a unique window into the foundations of modern Qatar and the development of the gulf.
The town of Al Zubarah was founded in the late 18th Century by the Bedouin pearl divers of Basra and Kuwait who moved to northern Qatar. The date presses are located in the commercial area, where the ancient pearl divers used to shop and trade.
Commenting on the discovery, Faisal Al Naimi, Director of Archaeology at Qatar Museums, stated: “The date presses (madaabis) are part of Qatar’s history and heritage and the discovery of such a vast number of presses in Al Zubara is extremely exciting. This is an evidence of the importance Al Zubarah had in the past as trading town, connecting Qatar with other countries, and turning it into an international historical site.”
As the date palm and the pearl dhow are Qatar’s national symbols, it is very exciting to discover such a large number of date presses on the shores of the pearling harbour of Al Zubarah.
Sponsored by Maersk Oil Qatar, the site and associated activities have proved successful at attracting a wide range of people and becoming Qatar’s leading historical attraction.
Please note that the site will be closed during the Holy month of Ramadan and that it will reopen on the 1st day of Eid.
For more information please visit www.alzubarah.qa.
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