German-Omani Cooperation and an interdisciplinary approach are the basic concepts of the project. The central objective is to document and research the landscape of settlements from the pre-Islamic into the modern period, resulting in a detailed documentation of the built environment and material culture, to comprehend the changes in the oasis settlements of northern Oman, and to show possible prospects for development.
The oasis settlements are investigated in respect to their beginning and development as well as their ecological setting along two representative transects in northern Oman. The research focused on processes of transformation throughout history, regarding the architecture and material culture, the economy and ecology of the oasis settlements in a regional and interdisciplinary approach.
The historian and archaeologist investigate the origins and development of oasis agriculture and its connection with the water system. The architects and urban planners study the settlement typology, settlement structure, building typology, building technology and technical infrastructure.
The agronomist and ecologist study the land use system with the ecological and socio-economic aspects of crop and livestock husbandry as well as the productivity and nutrient use efficiencies of annual and perennial crops in selected oasis, in order to define key problems in the agrarian productive system related to the location and develop strategies for sustainable development.
History and Archaeology
Historian and Archaeologist study the origins and development of oasis agriculture and its connection with the water system. Patterns of land use through time are studied through the analysis of inhabited settlements and agro-pastoral areas as well as the remains of settlements, agrarian terraces and cemeteries. The study of the material culture, of oral history and of historical documents shall finally lead to writing the history of settlements in the area under consideration and link the region into a wider historical context including not only its role within the history of the Oman peninsula, but also how it has been linked to world trade and world history.
General tasks of the archaeological part of the project are research on the beginning and development of oasis-settlements in Oman. So archaeology should provide the historical deepness of settlement history with in the framework of the entire project, which will allow an assessment of the traditional way of life and its preservation for the future.
Various scientific methods were used for the archaeological survey of the area under study. The survey has been prepared by studying aerial photographs of the National Survey Authority of the Sultanat Oman. Many features could be recognised and were marked on the photographs. Later, all of these points were visited during our field survey, and the different find spots were recorded with a Global Positioning System (GPS).
The aerial photographs were also used to draw up maps of the study area with the help of a special computer software. All archaeological sites have been marked on these maps. After an inspection of our study area we decided to take photographs of the most important deserted settlements at a low altitude with the help of a balloon. These photographs were used to draw sketch plans of these sites. On the basis of these plans it is possible to investigate the architecture of the old villages.
Most important was the collection of pottery sherds, for they are a great assistence in dating the ancient tombs and settlements. We scrutinize the sherds to find out the methods of production and exchange systems, among others.
Contact person and coordinater: Prof. Dr. H. Gaube, University of Tübingen and Dr. Juergen Schreiber, German Archaeological Institut
Architecture and Urban Planning
One of the main research tasks was the documentation and analysis of the morphology, settlement structures and infrastructures network in a historical context and the presentation of problems and perspectives for future development.
The scientific methods based on Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing. On the basis of satellite images of Northern Oman, detailed satellite photos of surveyed regions and aerial photos, basic maps were established to show the topographic preconsitions of the surveyed areas. Low altitutde, high resolution aerial photography from a balloon and the collection of ground truth data based on Differential Global Positioning Systems (GPS) ensure precise records. All images were scanned and rectified using ground control points, the positions of which were determined with GPS to decimeter-precision, and registered in a Geographic Information System (GIS) using ArcGIS and ArcView by ESRI. On the basis of this material, urban analysis on scales of 1:1000 and 1:500 were comiles and individual buildings were measured and drawn.
The historical scenic, and ecological uniqueness and variety of architectural and urban building is recorded about individual oasis settlements in two representative transects.
Contact person and coordinater: Prof. Dr. Eckhard Ribbeck and Dr. Anette Gangler, University of Stuttgart
Agriculture and Landscape Ecology
The agronomist and ecologist study the land use system with the ecological and socio-economic aspects of crop and livestock husbandry as well as the productivity and nutrient use efficiencies of annual and perennial crops in selected oasis. The main study areas were Balad Seet, Maqta, Wadi Tiwi and three villages on the Al Jabal a-Akhdar range.The main research fields are:
- Analysis of the natural conditions (climate, hydrology, vegetation, soil)
- Analysis of the land use system
Description of the land use techniques in agriculture; Investigation of the Social and economic aspects of crop and livestock agriculture; Calculation of nutrient budgets (vertical and horizontal fluxes).
- Modelling and scenarios
Integrated socio-economic and ecological evaluation of the land use system; Modelling of land use scenarios, Development of recommendations for sustainable managment strategies.
Contact person and coordinater: Prof. Dr. Andreas Buerkert and Prof. Dr Eva Schlecht, , University of Kassel, Germany