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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


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) .

International Collaboration

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

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2011: External examinar, Aarhus University, Denmark:
  • 2011: Invited speaker Archéologie de l’est de l’Océan Indien, Séminaire de l’UMR 7528, Mondes iranien et indien, Maison de l’Asie, Paris :
  • 2011: Invited speaker Mediaeval Studies Seminar series, St Andrews University, Scotland:
  • 2011: Invited speaker The Umayyads: history and art in the first century of Islam, Edinburgh University:
  • 2011: Invited speaker, Patrimoines Locaux, UMR 208, CNRS, Paris:
  • 2010: Chair of the British Foundation for the Study of Arabia:
  • 2010: Commissioned session leader, Rice University 'Saturday Seminars' for College teachers, Houston, Texas:
  • 2010: External examiner Paris University Sorbonne (Paris I):
  • 2010: Invited speaker Ancient Arabia from the 1st Millennium BCE to the Emergence of Islam, Institute for Advanced Studies, Jerusalem:
  • 2010: Invited speaker Archaeological Institute of America (Houston Society), Houston Museum of Natural Science 'Voyages of Monsoons and Gold' :
  • 2010: Invited speaker Classical Archaeology Research Seminar Oxford:
  • 2010: Invited speaker Houston Community College:
  • 2010: Invited speaker, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyya, Kuwait:
  • 2010: Invited speaker, Episcopal High School, Houston, Texas:
  • 2010: Invited speaker, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exter University:
  • 2009: Editorial committee, Journal of Arabian Studies:
  • 2009: External examiner York University (UK):
  • 2009: Invited speaker 2nd International Conference on the Archaeology of the UAE, Ministry of Culture, Abu Dhabi, UAE:
  • 2008: External examiner Deccan College Pune (India):
  • 2008: External examiner Paris University Sorbonne (Paris I):
  • 2008: Invited speaker The Orient on the eve of Islam (4th-7th cent.): the setting of the transition, College de France, Paris:
  • 2007: Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries:
  • 2006: Editorial Committee of the Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies:
  • 2006: External examiner Aarhus University Denmark:
  • 2006: Invited speaker L’Arabie à la veille de l’Islam:bilan clinique, College de France, Paris:
  • 2006: Invited speaker, Department of Archaeology, Dharwad University, India:
  • 2006: Keynote speaker British Museum 'Middle East Now' season:
  • 2004: Founding editor, Society for Arabian Studies Monograph Series:
  • 2004: Invited speaker, Indian Numismatics, Epigraphy and Archaeology, Worcester College, Oxford:
  • 2002: Committee of the Society for Arabian Studies:
  • 2002: Invited speaker International Symposium on Science and Engineering in Ancient Indian Monuments, Surabhi Force, Archaeological Survey of India, UNESCO & Indian Government Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi:
  • 2002: Invited speaker, Vakataka Colloquium, Gronigen University, Netherlands:
  • 2001: Invited speaker 1st International Conference on the Archaeology of the UAE, Ministry of Culture, Abu Dhabi, UAE:
  • 2000: Seminar for Arabian Studies Organising Committee:
  • 1997: Invited speaker, The Arabian Gulf: ancient history and glorious civilization, Sharjah Archaeological Museum, Sharjah, UAE:
  • 1992: Fellow, Royal Asiatic Society:

Research Interests

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

Related Links


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