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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

Dr Derek Kennet, BA PhD FSA

Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41135
Room number: 325

(email at

Research Collaboration with the Kuwaiti National Council for Culture, Art and Letters

Since 2009 I have been working the the  National Council for Culture, Art and Letters (NCCAL) of Kuwait on the excavation of early Islamic settlement along the shore of Kuwait Bay. In this area, which is threatened by human activity, there is an important but fragile record of occupation and activity dating, probably, from the late Sasanian period to the late 8th or early 9th century.

The work we are doing together is recording and analysing this evidence in order to make sure that it is preserved for the future and that future decisions about development of the area can be taken in an informed way.

Research Interests

I am interested in: the archaeology of South Asia, Arabia, the Gulf, and the western Indian Ocean in the Early Historic to Late Antique/Early Medieval periods; the archaeology of Islam in the Near East; the Sasanians; the archaeology of trade and economy; archaeological field techniques.

Current research is focussing on the following areas:

1/ Using archaeology to write a quantified history of trade in the Indian Ocean 4th - 17th century AD, concentrating on case studies the Arabian Sea and the Gulf area.

2/ The Early Historic to Early Medieval archaeology of South Asian, especially the northern Deccan.

3/ The archaeology of Arabia in the late pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods.

I am an advisor to the Department of Antiquities and Museums of Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.
Current projects
Fieldwork & Research
Paithan & Chandor
On behalf of the Society for South Asian Studies and in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India I am working on the publication of the Paithan (Maharashtra) and Chandor (Goa) excavations in in India conducted between 1996 and 2000. Both of these are Early Historic sites with well-preserved early Hindu brick temples. The application of new excavation and recording techniques has given new insights into the development of these buildings (see Kennet & Rao 2001 below).

I am currently in the course of publishing the 1995 - 2001 excavations at the site of Kush in Ras al-Khaimah (UAE). Kush is a tell with occupation dating from the 4th to the 13th century AD with an excellent sequence of palaeobotanical material, shells, glass and trade ceramics. Kush, and its hinterland in Northern Ras al-Khaimah, is an excellent case study for the interaction of inter-regional Indian Ocean trade and a local community and its economy (see Kennet 2002. Kennet 2003 below). This research is closely linked to the Williamson Collection work in Iran (see below & Priestman & Kennet 2002). The site also preseves the Sasanian - Early Islamic transition sequence allowing us to investigate developments in southeastern Arabia at this crucial time. The site has yielded an excellent environmental sequence.

Together with Dr. Alastair Northedge of the Sorbonne I am working on Samarra in Iraq. Production of the site atlas is now in its final stages (see Kennet 2001).

The Williamson Collection Project
This project involves making a catalogue and analysis of the collection of Iranian pottery made by A Williamson in the 1960's & early '70s. This is one of the best survey datasets from anywhere in the Near East or on the Indian Ocean littoral. Over 19,500 sherds have so far been catalogued from 800 sites. This work is in collaboration with the British Insitute for Persian Studies (see below & Priestman & Kennet 2002) .

Research Groups

Research Projects

  • Ceramics
  • Kadhima : an Early Islamic settlement and landscape on Kuwait Bay
  • Qarn al-Harf
  • Williamson Collection Project

Research Interests

  • Arabian archaeology
  • Archaeology of trade and economy
  • Early historic South Asia
  • Indian Ocean archaeology
  • Islamic archaeology
  • Medieval India
  • Sasanian archaeology

International Collaboration

  • Department of Antiquities, Government of Ras al-Khaimah (UAE)


Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Kennet, D. (2009). Transformations in late Sasanian and Early Islamic Eastern Arabia: the evidence from Kush. In L’Arabie à la veille de l’Islam, bilan clinique. Orient & Méditerranée No. 3. Schiettecatte, J. & Robin, C. Paris: De Boccard. 135-161.
  • Kennet, D. (2008). Sasanian Coins from ‘Uman and Bahrayn. In Current Research in Sasanian Archaeology, Art & History. BAR International Series 1810:. Kennet, D. & Luft, P. Oxford.: 55-64.
  • Kennet, D., Petrie C.A. & Priestman. S.M.N. (2007). The Glazed Ceramics. In Charsadda: the British Excavations at the Bala Hisar. BAR International Series. Coningham, R. & Ali, I. 227-233.
  • Kennet, D. (2004). The transition from Early Historic to Early Medieval in the Vakataka realm. In The Vakataka Heritage: Indian Culture at the Crossroads. Bakker, H. Groningen.: 11-17.
  • Fredslund Andersen, S. & Kennet, D. (2003). Sasanian and Islamic pottery. In The Barbar Temples. Volume 1. Hellmuth Andersen, H. & Højland, F. 307-310.
  • Kennet, D. (2001). The form of the military cantonments at Samarra, the organisation of the Abbasid army. In A Medieval Islamic City Reconsidered: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Samarra. Robinson, C. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Oxford Studies in Islamic Art XIV: 157-182.

Conference Paper

Edited book

  • Kennet, D. & Luft, P. (2008). Current Research in Sasanian Archaeology, Art and History. Proceedings of a Conference held at Durham University, November 3rd and 4th, 2001. BAR International Series 1810. Oxford: Archaeopress.
  • Kennet, D. (1988). George Dennis. Maremma: l'interno. Sovana, Saturnia, Pitigliano. Siena: Nouva Imagine Editrice.

Journal Article

Related Links


Scottish Soldiers Project

Cooperating with the Palace Museum in China