BAT ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT
BAP exists to connect communities today to the Omani cultures of yesterday. We employ multidisciplinary approaches to create spaces where stakeholders can access the benefits of Bat’s archaeological record, both material and intangible.
ABOUT THE BAT ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT
Archaeology in an Arabian Oasis
The archaeological site of Bat is an oasis settlement and necropolis located in the arid piedmont of the Hajar Mountains in the Sultanate of Oman. Bat has been occupied from the Neolithic to the modern day and is, thus, one of the most important heritage centers in southeast Arabia. The site was inscribed onto the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1988 as "the most complete collection of settlements and necropolises from the 3rd millennium B.C. in the world."
The Bat Archaeological Project (BAP) has carried out field research at the site since 2007 with the support of the Penn Museum and the Omani Ministry of Heritage and Culture. While research initially focused on the site's monumental third millennium towers, over the years the project has broadened its scope to consider settlement and tomb contexts from a range of periods. Beginning in 2018, BAP embarked on a new phase of archaeological research investigating the cultural ecology and occupational history of the oasis center, particularly that of the Umm an-Nar Period (ca. 2700-2000 BCE). This website introduces the new phase of BAP research and the researchers leading the way into the trenches: Dr. Jennifer Swerida (University of Pennsylvania), Dr. Eli Dollarhide (New York University Abu Dhabi), and Reilly Jensen (University of Utah).
The Bat Archaeological Project has been selected as a recipient of the 'Archaeological and Ethnographic Field Research' grant by the US National Endowment of the Humanities. Our new research – Beyond the Oasis: The Ancient Cultural Landscape of Bat and the Sharsah Valley – will study the processes of social place-making carried out by Bat's Early Bronze Age inhabitants.
PROJECT CO-DIRECTOR: JENNIFER SWERIDA
Consulting Scholar, Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania
Visiting Assistant Professor of Archaeology, Kennesaw State University
A New Jerseyan by birth, I left my childhood home at the beach to pursue my fascination with the ancient world. I earned my BA in Archaeology and Art History from Boston University in 2008. In 2010, I received an MA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, with a focus on archaeology, from the University of Pennsylvania. I then began a PhD in Near Eastern Studies at the Johns Hopkins University and graduated in December 2017. Throughout my education, I pursued fieldwork in various parts of the world, including Syria, Azerbaijan, Oman, Ethiopia, Iraqi Kurdistan, the UK, and the US. Of these locations, no where caught my heart quite like the rugged beauty, generous soul, and archaeological depths of the Sultanate of Oman. In my dissertation on Oman's Early Bronze Age, "Housing the Umm an-Nar: The Settlements and Houses of Bat," I use the previously under-studied third millennium occupational contexts at Bat to shed new light onto the lifeways and social organization of the Umm an-Nar society.
Since graduating, I have continued to develop my research in Oman and Azerbaijan. I've also enjoyed instructing students and building my research and teaching portfolio at Monmouth University, University of Pennsylvania, the American University of Beirut, Kennesaw State University, and Bryn Mawr College.
Material identity; Household archaeology; Alternative social complexities; Material culture; Interplay of semi-mobile and sedentary groups/lifesways
PROJECTS: NEW AND ON-GOING
As Co-Director of the Bat Archaeological Project, I am particularly interested in Umm an-Nar settlement contexts at Bat and what those remains can reveal about ancient social organization, lifeways, and identities at the site. By studying house contexts, I aim to understand Umm an-Nar society from the bottom up and from a perspective that complements the substantial insight already available from mortuary studies.
In my second archaeological life, I am also Assistant Director and Registrar of the Naxcivan Archaeological Project, in the Naxcivan Province of Azerbaijan. In this project, I investigate identity formation and negotiation between mobile and sedentary groups who shared the same landscape.
Outside of my archaeological interests, I am a dedicated distance runner and have competed in over 20 marathons and ultra-marathons on three continents. When in the field, I use daily training runs as a way to organically experience the landscape. My runs in and around Bat have also helped me to get to know the community and to raise local awareness of BAP's research.
Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED certification valid through 2023.
PROJECT CO-DIRECTOR: ELI DOLLARHIDE
Humanities Research Fellow, New York University Abu Dhabi
I am currently a Humanities Research Fellow at the Research Institute, NYU Abu Dhabi. I completed my PhD in anthropology at NYU New York in 2019. My research uses material culture and environmental data to trace ancient long-distance and local economic networks and envision the landscapes in which they existed. I have worked at Bat since 2013 and previously directed an archaeological survey between Bat and its neighbor to the south, 'Amlah. I am also specialist in the prehistoric ceramics of Southeastern Arabia and the Gulf region.
Ceramics; Petrography; Landscape studies; Settlement/exchange networks and webs; Globalization in prehistory
- Ceramic petrography of samples from across Bat and its environs
- Excavations at Bat South
- Ceramics analysis for the Archaeological Water Histories of Oman (ArWHO; Johns Hopkins Univ.) project
OUR RESEARCH QUESTIONS:
How did the Umm an-Nar cultivate their landscape to sustain long-term settlement?
How did these strategies vary across space and environmental conditions?
How interconnected (socially and economically) were Umm an-Nar settlements on the same landscape?
How did Umm an-Nar land-use and lifeways facilitate complexity in these diverse conditions and ecological strategies?
How can the socio-ecological strategies of the Umm an-Nar inform modern efforts to develop sustainable ecological systems?