HomeLate Antiquity in the north-western half of the Arabian peninsula: material culture, chronology, exchanges and territorial entities

HomeLate Antiquity in the north-western half of the Arabian peninsula: material culture, chronology, exchanges and territorial entities

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Published on Tuesday, April 22, 2014


The very quick recent development of archaeological and epigraphic work in Saudi Arabia brought deep changes in our knowledge of the Arabian Peninsula — which until the middle of the 2000's was only based on research on the periphery: Kuwait, Bahrayn, Qatar, The Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. That development reveals how wide the gaps are, of the interpretative frame in particular, for broad geo-historical segments. That is true especially for what is generally called Late Antiquity (4th- early 7th centuries AD), and here "Late Pre-Islamic" or even in local religious terms jâhîliyah, "ignorance" — a term which actually reflects correctly the state of knowledge. The amount of data collected within less than ten years within a large North-Western half of the Peninsula makes possible to see that except for the extreme North (current Joradanian border and Jawf Oasis) the Christianity does not penetrate and Byzantiums unifying power is absent. One is even unable to name what the field teams are dealing with. The proposed doctoral work must produce the state of that question, for which there if a rich evidence in stratigraphy, architecture, objects, and even epigraphy due to the recent demonstration of the Nabataean-Arabic continuum. The comparison with the Byzantine and christianized areas of the extreme North must be one of the leading strands but no way the only one, since the heart of the subject lyes, on the contrary, in the currently unnamed culture(s) of the Peninsula itself.



The context as it is treated by religious sciences and by Historians in the restricted meaning of the word must be well known (discussions on the "milieu" of the emergence of Islam; questions of languages and scripts; role played by the Ghassanids/Jafnids and by Hira and the Lakmids; Byzantine-Sassanid context in the North, Himyaritic and Axumite in the South), but it should be put and kept on its own place, since considering their uncertainties and sometimes presuppositions these debates should be clarifyed with the help of new archaeological evidence, and not the contrary.

Evidence come from two groups:

- Archaeological excavations — Saudi and French at Hegra (Madain Salih, Hijaz), Dumat al-Jandal (Jaw, extreme North), Kharj (Yamama, near Riyadh) and Kilwa (Saudi-Jordanian border); Saudi and German at Tayma (Hijaz); Saudi and Polish at Aynunah (near Tiran Straights); Saudi excavations at Khuraybat - al Ula [ancient Dedan] and Mabiyat (Hijaz) — and archaeological surveys as well (the survey Hegra - Red Sea among others).

- Epigraphic surveys conducted and published both by Saudi scholars (K. al Muayqel, S. al-Dib) and European scholars (L. Nehme, J. Healey, F. Imbert) over large areas, in Hijâz and in Jawf particularly.

The beneficiary of the doctoral grant obviously cannot be a participant of all these field researches but she or he should commit herself/himself to acquire an accurate kwoledge of them, and should be very familiar with at least one of these projects and with at least one excavation project among them.

Research framework

LabEx DynamiTe Work package: GT2.3 « Environnement, usages et constructions plurielles de l’espace »


  • Francis Joannès, francis.joannes@univ-paris1.fr
  • François de Polignac, polignac@ehess.fr

Planned collaborations

In addition to the labs and teams of the "DymamiTe" Labex, collaboration is wished and easy with Saudi (and Jordanian, if need) institutions: SCTA — Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities — on the one hand, which plays the role of a General Directorate of Archaeology. On the other hand, with two universities which are directly concerned and have established partnership with Paris 1 University components of DynamiTe and develop a real cooperation with French archaeologists of DynamiTe: one of them the large Faculty of Archaeology and Tourism of King Saud University in Riyadh, for the important excavations at Khuraybat - al Ula and, mainly, at Mabiyat (4th-8th centuries).

It must be noticed that a Saudi PhD student coming from that University, currently preparing his archaeological dissertation in Paris 1 University, is an excellent intermediary. The other university is the young and active Hayl University, Central North of the Peninsula, involved in Hegra excavations and asking for new field collaborations.

In Europe, collaborations should be based mainly on the Berlin team of the German Archaeological Institute DAI Orientabteilung, for its pioneer research on the Tayma area and on the team of the Mediterranean Archaeology Institute at Warsaw University which started in 2014 excavations and surveys in Aynunah.

Finally, CEFA, the French Research Center for Arabia, based in Jeddah since 2013, will contribute to the coordination of the beneficiary's work.

Required skills and abilities 

The main criterion is a deep interest for the historical, political and spiritual evolution of that area of the world in the first millennium AD, based upon a solid interdisciplinary cultural background in Human and Social Sciences, together with a clear conscience of the geographical context: deserts, oases, caravans. The beneficiary of the doctoral grant must have a really strong formation and experience in field archaeology and in the study of large series of archaeological material, pottery for example. An earlier and substantial experience of the field in the Near East of Middle East is necessary. Knowledge of English, as lingua franca, and of as many as possible elements in Arabic language (that it should be compulsory to develop during the doctoral period) is necessary as well. Some knowledge of ancient Semitic languages of the area would be helpful.

Proceedings and schedules of recruitment

The application file should demonstrate the match to the profile (missions and required skills). Documents to be included:
- Application form,

- The grades of the 1st year and of the 1st semester of the 2nd year of Masters degree,

- A letter from the Masters degree supervisor certifying that the candidate will soon defend its Masters thesis (Before 31st August 2014),

- A Curriculum Vitae,

- The PhD project (5 to 8 pages max),

- Two letters of recommendation:

One from the supervisor of its Masters thesis,
One from a chosen referent,
- Two supporting letters:

One from the potential supervisor within the laboratory [1],
One from the director of the potential hosting unit [2].

[1] That the candidate will contact before 9th May 2014 with labex.dynamite@hesam.eu in copy (compulsory) and the suppervisors of the Work Package.

[2] That the candidate will contact before 9th May 2014 with labex.dynamite@hesam.eu in copy (compulsory) and the suppervisors of the Work Package.

Applications must be sent before 09th May 2014.

All applications have to be sent to: labex.dynamite@hesam.eu

As from 30th June 2014, selected candidate will be informed after examination of their application and hearings (which will take place during the week of 23rd June 2014).

Scientific committee to be announced

Additional information

  • Beginning of the contract 01/09/2014
  • Lenght of the contract 3 years
  • Hosting laboratory Name of the laboratory: ArScAn Archéologie et Sciences de l’Antiquité, UMR 7041
  • Net monthly salary 1350€ (complementary teaching assignments and tutorials can be added)


  • Paris, France (75)


  • Friday, May 09, 2014


  • Saudi Arabia, Phd fellowship, stratigraphy, architecture, archeology, islamic space


  • DynamiTe LabEx
    courriel : labex [dot] dynamite [at] hesam [dot] eu

Information source

  • Sophie Bantos
    courriel : labex [dot] dynamite [at] hesam [dot] eu


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Late Antiquity in the north-western half of the Arabian peninsula: material culture, chronology, exchanges and territorial entities », Scholarship, prize and job offer, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, https://doi.org/10.58079/pwp

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