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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Publication details for Dr Derek Kennet

Ishida, S., Parker, A.G., Kennet, D. & Hodson, M.J. (2003). Phytolith analysis from the archaeological site of Kush, Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. Quaternary Research 59(3): 310-321.

Author(s) from Durham


Despite the wealth of archaeological sites and excellent conditions for preservation, few phytolith investigations have been undertaken from the Arabian Gulf region. The results from the Sasanian and Islamic archaeological tell of Kush, Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, are presented. Kush is situated just inside the Gulf on an important trade route. The occupation sequence dates from the 4th century A.D. until the 13th century A.D., recording the development of the site in the Sasanian period, followed by the arrival of Islam in the 7th century A.D. and the final abandonment of the site in the late 13th century when the nearby site of al-Mataf (Julfar) began to develop closer to the present day coastline. All the samples analyzed contained abundant phytoliths (short cells, elongated cells, and groups of elongated cells) of various types. They included date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), papillae (possibly from barley (Hordeum)), and hair cells possibly from species of canary grass (Phalaris spp.). Some researchers have suggested that groups of elongated cells may indicate the presence of irrigation in semiarid environments. The present results for this class of phytoliths appeared to imply that intensive irrigation was unlikely to have taken place around Kush.