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Professor Derek Kennet

Associate Professor


AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology325+44 (0) 191 33 41135
Member of the Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East  
Member of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies  
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern 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

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

Research groups

Research Projects

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

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

  • Kennet, D (2019). The early Islamic archaeology of Kuwait Bay. In Archaeology of Failaka and Kuwaiti coast – current research. Ruttkay, M, Kovár, B & Pieta, K 147-157.
  • 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

  • Kennet, D (2013), An Outline Archaeological History of the Northern Emirates in the Islamic Period, in Potts, D & Hellyer, P eds, Second International Conference on the Archaeology in the UAE. Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, Abu Dhabi, 189-201.
  • Mitsuishi, G. & Kennet, D. (2013), Kiln sites of the fourteenth–twentieth-century Julfar ware pottery industry in Ras al-Khaimah, UAE, 43: 46th Meeting of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. London, Archaeopress, 225-238.
  • Kennet, D (2013), Reconsidering the decline of urbanism in late Early Historic and Early Medieval South Asia, in Schiettecatte, J & Robin, C eds, The Orient on the Eve of Islam. Paris, France, CNRS, Paris, 331-353.
  • Blair, A., Kennet, D. & al-Duwish, S. (2012), Investigating an Early Islamic Landscape on Kuwait Bay: the archaeology of historical Kadhima, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 42: Seminar for Arabian Studies. British Museum, London, Archaeopress, British Museum, London, 13-26.
  • Kennet, D., Blair, A., Ulrich. B. & Al-Duwish, S.M. (2011), The Kadhima Project: investigating an Early Islamic settlement and landscape on Kuwait Bay, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 41: Seminar for Arabian Studies. British Museum, London, Archaeopress, British Museum, London, 161-172.

Edited book

  • Saunders, B, Kennet, D & al-Jahwari, N (2016). Archaeological Rescue Excavations on Packages 3 and 4 of the Batinah Expressway, Sultanate of Oman. British Foundation for the Study of Arabia Monographs No. 18 (Field Report). Archaeopress.
  • 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

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Kennet, D (2015). Current fieldwork on the early Islamic archaeology of Kuwait: Kadhima, the coast and the Tariq al-Basra. Hadeeth ad-Dar (Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah) (39): 19-24.

Supervision students