Although the earlier periods of Bahraini archaeology were well-investigated, notably Dilmun and ‘Tylos’, that of the Islamic era had been comparatively neglected. To redress this, the Anglo-Bahraini ‘Early Islamic Bahrain’ project was initiated in 2001 and is now one of the longest continuously running archaeological projects in the Arabian Gulf. Initial excavations were in the Bilad al-Qadim area, the former Abbasid capital on Awal, the main island, and the results of these will be described and contextualised in their wider regional and international contexts, as will those from subsequent research on the Islamic gravestones of Bahrain (pre-1900), and from excavations in Muharraq Town, and in the oldest extant ceramics workshop in the village of A’ali. The establishment of the site museum at the Al-Khamis Mosque, and the investigation of a Christian building in the village of Samahij (6th to 8th centuries AD), the first found in Bahrain, will also be considered, and the work of students involved in the project highlighted. Finally, the future directions for the project will be outlined.
Professor Timothy Insoll FBA is Al-Qasimi Professor of African and Islamic Archaeology at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, where he is also founding director of the Centre for Islamic Archaeology. He has completed archaeological field projects in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mali, Saudi Arabia, and for many years in Bahrain where he is Honorary Archaeological Advisor to the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain, HRH Sh. Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa. He has published extensively, including 11 monographs (one translated into Turkish and two into Persian), and 13 edited volumes and special issues of journals. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Society of Antiquaries and Royal Asiatic Society.