Saudi Arabia has announced the discovery of a 7th century village, which has been unearthed in the Raaka district, Dammam, near the shores of the Arabian Gulf. The site contains a compound village, which contains more than 20 houses, containing rooms and accommodation units, in which coins, fractures of pottery, limestone (steatite), and glass pieces dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries AH (7th & 8th century AD) were found.
This valuable finding was a residential settlement belonging to the beginning of Islam; the Umayyad and Abbasid perhaps earlier, as deciphered from the pieces of pottery and porcelain, glass, steatite, and metal coins found there, that can be dated to 1st and 2nd centuries AH. The site features two-stage architecture; the first one represents the beginning of the residential units that might date back to the first century AH. The second phase witnessed several modifications to the original design of the housing units, as well as many other public utilities, in addition to the level of flooring over the old.
Dr. Ali Al Ghabban, vice president of the archeology and museums sector in SCTA, stated that it is one of the archaeological projects undertaken by SCTA in a number of regions in the Kingdom, pointing out that the excavations at the site began about two months ago by a Saudi team qualified by the Antiquities Office in the Eastern Province, under the supervision of the Antiquities and Museums Division of SCTA.
Each house consists of area of 16 x 12 m at an average and contains three or four rooms of different sizes in addition to an independent external courtyard. Perhaps one of these rooms was used for the storage of date palm, while the rest of the rooms were probably used for residential purpose. The courtyard contains a number of furnaces like the modern day “Tanors.”
In the area of excavation, there are three archaeological hills; the first one is marked as area (A), located on the north side, the second one is area (B), located in the middle, and the third (C) is located in the southern part of the site. On the surface of the site, especially on the hills there is a widespread of pottery and broken glass pieces dating back to the early Islamic era. It is also bordered by stone walls along each side.
Next to each group of three houses that constitute the village is found a water system comprised of a circular water well built from medium-sized irregular stones brought in from the nearby seashore. The well is connected to an oval-shaped building, construed to be a water tank with two channels for drainage, one of them flows toward the north side while the other flows towards the south-eastern side. The structure of channels contains pottery jars to control the volume of water drained.
In the end, Dr. Al Ghabban expressed hope that the find would remind Saudis of a long and rich cultural heritage, stating, “These sites have historic value and will help in understanding the history of this region.”