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Dilmun sea Theresa Howard-carter 1987

Dilmun sea Theresa Howard-carter 1987

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Published by Srini Kalyanaraman

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Published by: Srini Kalyanaraman on Jan 30, 2012
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DILMUN:ATSEAORNOTATSEA?
AREVIEWARTlCLEl
TheresaHoward-CarterKuwaitNationalMuseumandTheUniversityMuseum
ThesubjectofDilmunhas,inthelastdecade,attainedapositionofconsiderableprominenceinNearEasternStudies.Inadditiontolong-knownliteraryreferencestoDilmun,anincreasingamountoftextualmaterialisnowavailableinnewtreatmentsandtranslations.Moreover,activeprogramsofexcavationintheGulfareaformorethantwentyyearshaveresultedingreataccumulationsofarchaeologicaldata,forthemostpartasyetunassimilated.TheinformationpresentlyavailablecoversagreatnumberofperiodsandtypesofsourcesnotreadilyaccessibletothegeneralNearEasternscholar.TheoccasionofthisreviewarticleofDilmun:NewStudiesintheArchaeologyandEarlyHistoryofBahrain,thereforepresentsafortuitousopportunitytoevaluatetheessentialsofarapidlyswellingbodyofdata.Initially,thisarticlewilldiscussthevolumeunderreviewandthevariouscontributionscontainedtherein,commentingindetailwhereappropriateonpointsraisedbytheindividualauthors.Certainmaterialsnotcon-sideredintheDilmunvolumewillbetreatedin"AdditionalNotes."Aconcludingdigestlistsalloftherealevidence,arrangedchronologically.Thedigestdrawsnotonlyonpublishedinformationbutalsoondatathatisstillunderstudy.Inthecompilationofthisdataahostofgenerouscolleaguesfreelyandgraciouslycontributedtheirexpertknowledge.Forexample,anumberofscholars,actingasconsultantsfortheKuwaitNationalMuseum,arecurrentlyintheprocessofpreparingtheFailakamaterialforcomprehensiveexhibition.TheFailakamaterialcomplementsratherthansupplementstheBahrainmaterial;itcontainsamuchlargercorpusofbothglypticandinscriptionalevidence,aswellasanumberoffragmentsoffiguredsoft-stonevessels.Thustheconsultants'observationswillbeintroducedthroughoutthisarticlewheredocumentationisrele-vant,especiallyintheconcludingdigest.
1.
BerlinerBeitragezumVorderenOrient2
(ed,
DanielT.Potts;Serlin,1983).Additionalabbreviationsusedhere:BHASJ
=
Dilmun:BahrainHistoricalandArchaeologicalSocietyJournal;JOS
=
JournalofOmanStudies;PSAS
=
ProceedingsoftheSeminaronArabianStudies.54
res
39/11987
 
DILMUN:ATSEAORNOTATSEA?
55
OnlyaftercompletionofthetextofthisreviewwasitpossibletohaveaccesstothecriticalEasternArabianmaterialintheformofC.Piesinger'sdissertation"TheLegacyofDilmun:TheRootsofMaritimeTradeinEasternCoastalArabiainthe4th/3rdMillennium."2HoweveritdidprovepossibletoincludesomeofthemostpertinentinformationfromthisworkintheDigest,sinceitistotallynecessaryforanymaterialevaluationofDilmunintheearlyandmiddlethirdmillennium.TheworkunderreviewcollectsinasinglevolumeessaysandcommentsbyscholarschieflyfromwesternandcentralEuropewhohaveatsomepointconcernedthemselveswiththetopicof"Dilmun,"particularlyinreferencetotheislandsofBahrain.Theconceptionisasplendidone,butwhatappearsinseveralrespectstohavebeenahurriedeffortrendersthisworklessvaluablethanitshouldhavebeen.Onemightinthefirstinstancehavehopedforabroaderbaseofauthorship.Secondly,acomprehensiveintroductioncouldhaveoutlinedusefullytheproblemareasandcouldhavedefinedaframeworkwithinwhichthecontributingscholarscouldhaveoperatedmoreeffectively.However,theworkwasintendedasapresentationvolumeontheoccasionoftheBahrainmonarchy's200thanniversary;thusmaterialsfromEasternArabiaandFailakausuallyincludedinaconsiderationof"GreaterDilmun"3werelargelyexcludedfromthisvolume.'Otheravailabletextualmaterialswouldhaveusefullyaugmentedtheratherscantinformationprovidedforsomeperiods.Despitethetitleofthevolume,archaeologyislargelyneglected.Someattempthasbeenmadeheretoremedythatparticulardefect.Thebookwouldmoreappropriatelyhavebeenentitled"DilmuninBahrain."Thetitleisinexactinanotheraspectaswell.SincePottslabeledit"Dilmun,"wemightconjecturethatPottsintendedtoabandonthesubjectatthepointinhistorywhenthattermfelloutofuseintheHellenisticperiod,andBahrainbecameknownasTylos(andFailakaasIkaros).YetKessler'sNeo-BabyloniansarefollowedbyFrye'sSasanians,andfinallyBeaucampandRobin'sNestorianChristiansinBahrain.Thesourcesavailableforthetimespannotcoveredinthevolumeunderreview,fromthelatefirstmillenniumB.C.throughtheearlyfirstmillenniumA.D.,haveinthelastseveralyearsbeenenrichedbynewlydiscoveredmaterial.The
2.(Unpuh.Ph.D.diss.,UniversityofWisconsin-Madison,1983).3.Cf.D.Potts,"Dilmun:WhereandWhen?"BHASJ11(1983)15-19.4.ForacleartopographicinterpretationseeM.Tosi,Antiquity45(1971)22,andforacoherentmapdemonstrationoftheareainquestion,P.Steinkeller,ZA72(1982)265.
 
56
THERESAHOWARD-CARTER
archaeologyandhistoryofthattimearethereforesubjectsofrenewedinterest,whichhasbeenspurredbytheFirstMillenniumGulfConferenceinLyoninJune1982,5atwhichPottsproducedanotablecontribution."Thevolumeconcludeswitha"BibliographyofBahrainArchaeology,"whichemphasizesthelimitedscopeofthestudy.TheIndicesarewell-prepared,butonelamentsboththereandinthetextthefactthatnon-standardcharactersanddiacriticalmarksarehandwrittenratherthansetintype.Allinallthebookbringsussomevaluablenewinformationandsomeusefulcriticalstudies.Moretime,carefulediting,attentiontodetail,andcomprehensivestructuringcouldhaveresultedinafirst-classwork.
Criticalreviews
Curtis
E.
Larsen,"TheEarlyEnvironmentandHydrologyofAncientBahrain"(pp.3-34).Larsenpresentsuswithalargeamountofinterestingmaterial,botholdandnew.HegivesagooddescriptionofgeologicaldomesandthenatureoftheorogenicactivitywhichmovedtheArabianPeninsulaagainstsouthwestAsia.Larsendependsheavilyoninformationfromraisedbeachestoestablishtheriseandfallofsealevels;thereisapparentlynomeanstodetermineastandardrateforthesefluctuationswithoutknowledgeofthefactorsobtainingatthetime.Larsenincludesaverypertinenthydrologicaldiscussionregardingtheseawaterpenetrationofaquifers.(Thispenetration,lamentably,isdemonstrableinthemoderndeathofpalmgroves.)HecogentlypointsouttheimportanceinantiquityoftherelationshipofartesianspringstosettlementpatternsandsuggeststhatspringsformthecoreoftheancientsettlementpatternwithQala'atal-Bahrainonitsnorthernfringe:"Itistemptingtoseetheinitialdevelopmentofthisurbancenterfromanexistingconcentrationofspring-orientedvillagesduringthelate3rdmillenniumwhenthecenterofDilmunshiftedfromtheArabiancoasttotheislandofBahrain"(p.15).Thissomewhatstartlingstatementispresentedwithoutfurtherexplanationand
5.Arabieorientale,
Mesopotamfe
etIranmeridionalderageduferaudebutdelaperiodeislamique,Memoireno.37,ll:ditionsrecherchesurlescivilisations(ed.R.BoucharlatandJ.-F.Salles;1983).6.Cf.D.Potts,Expedition26/3(1984)21-30,inwhichhecompetentlysummarizesthesituationintheNorth-easternArabianPeninsulafromthethirdcenturyB.C.totheseventhcenturyA.D.;aclearandbriefaccountbyJ.-F.Salles,"GulfAreaDuringtheFirstMillennium,"canbefoundinBHASJ10(1982).SeealsoR.BoucharlatandJ.-F.Salles,"TheHistoryandArchaeologyoftheGulffromthe5thcent.B.C.tothe7thcent.A.D.,"PSAS11(1981)65-94.

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