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Professor Derek Kennet


Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 
Member of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 


Research Interests

I am interested in: the archaeology of Arabia, the Gulf, the Indian Ocean and South Asia, principally in the Early Historic to Late Antique/Early Medieval periods. I also work on the archaeology Indian Ocean trade (in particular Chinese and Islamic trade ceramics) of Islam in the Near East; the Sasanians; Arabian landscapes from the Neolithic to the modern era; 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 particularly on case studies the Arabian Sea and the Gulf area.

2/ The archaeology of Arabia in all periods, but particularly in the late pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods.

Projects completed in course of publication:

Qarn al-Harf (Ras al-Khaimah, UAE)

Early 2nd millennium collective-tomb cemetery in Northern Ras al-Khaimah. These tombs were built early in the 2nd millennium. They and their occupants reflect life in the region after the significant changes that took place at the end of the Umm an-Nar perod (c 2000 BC).

The Rustaq-Batinah Archaeological Survey (RBAS) Oman

A six-season landscape survey of the Rustaq and lower Batinah areas. The unique scale and scope of this survey have revealed insights into prehistoric and Islamic period settlement that were previously unknown.

Kadhima Survey and Excavation (Kuwait)

A five-season survey with limited excavation of selected sites took place between 2009 and 2015 along the western edge of Kuwait Bay in collaboration with the Kuwait National Museum and the Kuwaiti National Council for Culture, Art and Letters. A series of small settlements dating to the late 7th/8th century was uncovered. These were almost entirely abandoned by the 830s. A few Sasanian-period Torpedo Jar dumps were the only sign of previous activity along the coast.

The Williamson Collection Project (Iran, BIPS)

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).

Kush (Ras al-Khaimah, UAE)

 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. These excavations are partly published (Kennet 2004, 2008) and partly in the course of publication.

Research interests

  • Arabian archaeology
  • Archaeology of Trade and Economy
  • Chinese Trade Ceramics
  • Early Historic South Asia
  • Indian Ocean Trade
  • Islamic archaeology
  • Medieval South Asia
  • Sasanian archaeology

Esteem Indicators

  • 2014: Editorial Board Journal of Islamic Archaeology (2014-present):
  • 2011: Editorial Board Journal of Arabian Studies (2011-present):
  • 2010: Founder Member/Trustee International Association for the Study of Arabia (2010-present):
  • 2000: Seminar for Arabian Studies - Organising Committee (2000-present):
  • 1999: Editorial Committee Proceedings for the Seminar for Arabian Studies (1999-present):


Authored book

Chapter in book

Conference Paper

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Print)

Supervision students