Researchers unveil a historical site dating back to the third millennium BC located in the south of Qatar.
A 3600 year old oasis has been discovered in Qatar by a team of scientists and researchers, uncovering potential for agriculture and a sophisticated irrigation system.
In their publication, the International Society for the Analysis of Satellite Imagery and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) uncovered the evidence of the oasis, which has been dubbed as “Makhfia” (literally translated to ‘the hidden’), and which takes up an area of two to four kilometers in the south of Qatar.
On a quest to find underground water sources in the eastern Arabian Peninsula, scientists that took part in the research, which is funded by the US Agency for Aid and International Development, stated that the discovery of the outlines of this archaeological place was stumbled upon by complete chance.
The discovery was made by researchers at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The purpose behind the decision to name the area Makhfia, is due to its invisible makeup. The area is reportedly so hidden that it was caught only when using advanced satellite radar.
The press release reported that, “independent carbon dating of retrieved charcoal samples suggest that the site is at least 3,650 years old,” stipulating that said area dates back to the same era as the Dilmun civilisation, an ancient Semitic-speaking civilisation in eastern Arabia in the third millennium BC.
According to the study, the past inhabitants of this area “had a sophisticated understanding of how to use groundwater. The research also points to the critical need to study water and safeguard against climate fluctuations in arid areas.”
Behind the scenes
Makhfia was spotted using L-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar images from the Japanese Satellite ALOS 1 and specifically acquired, high-resolution radar images by its successor, ALOS 2.
As per the report, the distinguished area was not scannable from space using “normal satellite imaging tools nor through surface observation on the earth—the large, underground rectangular plot, it was determined, had to be man-made due to its shape, texture and soil composition which were in sharp contrast to surrounding geological features.”
Lead author of the report, Essam Heddy, describes the almost inaccessible area to be similar to a “natural fortress surrounded by very rough terrain.”
This discovery carries significant historic and scientific implications for the current body of related studies.
The oasis is the first piece of evidence of “a sedentary community in the area—and perhaps evidence of an advanced engineering for the time period,” the report stated.
Although there are no remnants of walls or building pieces, the evidence of such a claim lies in the soil of the area. The research piece further noted that the “properties of the soil at the site have a different surface texture and composition than the terrain surrounding it—a disparity typically associated with planting and landscaping.”
The newly-discovered site unravels new insights on the lack of information regarding the climatic fluctuations that occurred in the region, and how these occurrences may have essentially affected human settlement and mobilisation.
The existence of this historic settlement and its new acknowledgement is a stepping stone for researchers, allowing them to piece together the most recent climatic changes that occurred in the Eastern Arabian Peninsula.