Dr. Joseph W. Lehner, co-director

In collaboration with Michael Harrower (Johns Hopkins University), the Archaeological Water Histories of Oman Project (ArWHO) is a collaborative archaeological research effort investigating the long-term role of water, industry and trade in ancient Oman. The project was funded from 2013-2017 by a grant from NASA for an archaeological survey and satellite imagery-based study of ancient water histories in Oman and Ethiopia.


From 2019, the project was funded through Lehner’s ARC DECRA to investigate the deep time industrial landscape in Wadi al-Raki. The Wadi al-Raki sites comprise some of the largest copper production sites in Arabia and provide fundamental data about the 5000-year history around the adoption and innovation of metallurgy in the region. Combined with a focus on tracking strategic resources use, technological change, and the cultural dynamics around industry, the project is reshaping how we understand how human communities solved resource intensive problems in one of the most arid regions on Earth.

Select publications:

Dumitru, I. A., & Harrower, M. J. (2018). From Rural Collectables to Global Commodities: Copper from Oman and Obsidian from Ethiopia. In M. D. Frachetti & N. Boivin (Eds.), Globalization in Prehistory: Contact, Exchange, and the 'People Without History' (pp. 232-262). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/DOI: 10.1017/9781108573276.011

Harrower, M., Nathan, S., Dumitru, I. A., Lehner, J. W., Paulsen, P., Dollarhide, E. N., Wiig, F., Sivitskis, A. J., David-Cuny, H., Swerida, J., Mazzariello, J. C., Crassard, R., Buffington, A., Taylor, S. P., Anderson, M. C., & al-Jabri, S. (2021). From the Paleolithic to the Islamic Era in Wilayah Yanqul: The Archaeological Water Histories of Oman (ArWHO) Project Survey 2011-2018. Journal of Oman Studies, 22, 1-21.

Harrower, M. J., David-Cuny, H., Nathan, S., Dumitru, I. A., & Al-Jabri, S. (2016). First discovery of ancient soft-stone (chlorite) vessel production in Arabia: Aqir al-Shamoos (Oman). Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 27(2), 197-207. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/aae.12076

Sivitskis, A. J., Lehner, J. W., Harrower, M. J., Dumitru, I. A., Paulsen, P. E., Nathan, S., Viete, D. R., Al-Jabri, S., Helwing, B., Wiig, F., Moraetis, D., & Pracejus, B. (2019). Detecting and Mapping Slag Heaps at Ancient Copper Production Sites in Oman. Remote Sensing, 11(24), 3014. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/11/24/3014

Wiig, F., Harrower, M. J., Braun, A. P., Nathan, S., Lehner, J. W., Simon, K. M., Sturm, J. O., Trinder, J., Dumitru, I. A., Hensley, S., & Clark, T. (2018). Mapping a Subsurface Water Channel with X-band and C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar at the Iron Age Site of Uqdat al-Bakrah (Safah), Oman. Geosciences, 8(334), 1-15. https://doi.org/doi:10.3390/geosciences8090334

To learn more about this project, you can listen to Dr Lehner's NEAF Podcast


Near Eastern Archaeological Foundation
Level 4, CCANESA Madsen F09, University of Sydney NSW 2006 Australia
+61 2 9351 4151 neaf.archaeology@sydney.edu.au