Kuwaiti-Italian archaeological mission continues efforts to trace island’s history

KUWAIT: Members of the Kuwaiti-Italian archaeological mission. — KUNA

KUWAIT: The Kuwaiti-Italian archaeological mission to Failaka Island has uncovered several proofs, mainly at the village of Al-Qurainiyah, referring that it was inhabited in the early Abbasid Caliphate period. The team is continuing its efforts in making new discoveries in the Island in a serious attempt to trace its history. The mission is exploring for monuments and artifacts that could provide information about the life of the first people who settled in Al-Qurainiyah.

Head of the mission Andrea Di Miceli said in a statement to the press that digging and searching operations in the village had unveiled important evidence of the human settlement of the island that dates back to the early Islamic history. This confirms that the village was inhabited during that period, he added, noting that the archaeological discoveries in the village date back to two different eras. He said that the excavation journey offered rich scientific evidence on populating the villages and the living conditions as well as the activities of the residents. He referred to the latest discoveries dating back to the beginning of Abbasid Caliphate in the 7th and 8th centuries AD.

Ongoing excavation works in Failaka.

Ancient port
The discoveries included some houses built of bricks and stones, and rooms, most of which overlook the courtyard, he revealed. These buildings involved multipurpose warehouses and mud oven with traces of tar believed to have been used in painting ships at that time, he said, explaining that this means that there was a workshop for repairing ships there. The place might have been the ancient port of the village of Al-Qusour, 1.5 km from Al-Qurainiyah, he said. He added that the findings indicated that Al-Qurainiyah was an active port.

The coastal village was the only link to outside world in the early Islamic period. The mission could find oysters in large quantities in a house, he made clear, saying that it refers that people were searching for pearls. Bones of fish and cattle were also found by the mission that give an evidence of the existence of cattle and animals at that time. He also pointed to several discoveries in the village that refer to tools used by people who were living there. He spoke about evidence on commercial activities of the village’s residents in the late Islamic era that reflects the volume of trade at the time.

The mission also unearthed porcelain brought from China for domestic purposes, glass bracelets from India for decoration as well as Indian pottery, ceramics from Amman and others, he said. He referred to the discovery of two types of tobacco pipes as evidence of the existence of smokers on the village in that period.

Part of excavation works in Failaka.

Foreign reports
Meanwhile, Hamed Al-Mutairi, an archeological official at National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters, said the village was previously mentioned in some foreign archaeological reports that date back to the beginning of the 19th century. These reports claimed that the village was deserted because of an epidemic, according to Mutairi. The village was nearly deserted for unknown reasons and it was re-inhabited at the end of 18th century until the beginning of the 20th century, he confirmed. The archaeological excavations in Kuwait have begun since 1957, before the country’s independence, when the Kuwaiti government assigned a Danish mission to search for archaeological sites at Failaka Island (20 km from the coast of Kuwait City), where there are several archaeological sites.

The Danish team worked in Bahrain in the 1950s and made significant results in the discovery of the Dilmun civilization and the Stone Age there. The mission also worked in Qatar and so the Kuwaiti government was encouraged to ask it in 1957 for working inside Failaka. In 1958, the actual excavation began in Kuwait and continued until 1963. During this period, the mission has accomplished great works. The Danish team was able to bear the first fruit to change the history in Kuwait by discovering many monuments in Failaka, dating back to the Bronze Age and some ruins dating back to the Stone Age. This refers that Kuwait has been existing since more than 300 years.


In the beginning of the 1970s, the US mission came to Kuwait and then the Italian mission in 1979. Both of them relied on aerial photography to discover archaeological sites and Kuwait has had first maps through aerial photography since that time. In 1983, The French team came to Kuwait and uncovered a temple, which has been a key archaeological monument on the Island. Issuing the Antiquities Law in 1960, which is one of the first laws in the Gulf region, the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters was established. Since 2004, the council has been concerned with cultural heritage in the country. – KUNA