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Julfar and the urbanisation of southeast Arabia

Kennet, D.



The fourteenth-sixteenth-century town of Julfar (al-Mataf) in Ras al-Khaimah (UAE) is one of the most fully investigated archaeological sites in the Gulf, having been the subject of seven different excavation projects. Evidence from the published reports, when brought together, provides a detailed and coherent picture of the development of the site from a small fishing community in the mid-fourteenth century to a fully urbanised settlement by the mid-fifteenth century, and then attests to its eventual decline and abandonment by the late sixteenth century. Julfar was the first example of true urbanism in this part of Arabia, and therefore marks a significant historical turning point. Its development is believed to have been linked to the expanding mercantile economy of Hormuz, but it occurred at the same time as a period of spectacular rural growth in its own immediate hinterland, evidence for which has been produced by archaeological field survey. Together these phenomena suggest the development of a local market economy, perhaps for the first time, which would have had significant implications for the social and economic structure of the area.


Kennet, D. (2003). Julfar and the urbanisation of southeast Arabia. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 14(1), 103-125.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 1, 2003
Deposit Date Jun 30, 2009
Journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy
Print ISSN 0905-7196
Electronic ISSN 1600-0471
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 1
Pages 103-125