We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Ancient agriculture in Southeast Arabia: A three thousand year record of runoff farming from central Oman (Rustaq)

Purdue, L. and Kennet, D. and Garnier, A. and Parton, A. and Djerbi, H. and Botan, S. and Herveux, L. and Davtian, G. and Carré, A. and Moger, D. (2021) 'Ancient agriculture in Southeast Arabia: A three thousand year record of runoff farming from central Oman (Rustaq).', Catena, 204 . p. 105406.


Runoff farming is a key hydro-agricultural strategy that has proven efficient in arid areas. Research in Arabia on the function, development, maintenance, durability and abandonment of this technology is scarce. A multiproxy investigation (cartography, sedimentology, pedology, geochemistry, paleo-ecology and chronology) was conducted on a recently abandoned terraced area in Rustaq, Northern Oman. The aim was to characterize the formation, function and management of this runoff system and the driving factors behind its success. Cycles of cultivation were identified during the Iron Age II/III periods (specifically 750–450 BCE), the Early Pre-Islamic Period (PIR) (specifically 350–200 BCE), the Early and Middle Islamic periods (specifically 8–10th C CE, 13th-14th C CE) and the late Islamic period (specifically 17th C CE and later). This expansion and perenniality was possible thanks to: 1- available water (local to micro-regional orogenic precipitation despite a regional aridification during these periods); 2- suitable soils (weathered geological outcrops, probable aeolian /dust particles); 3- a system of production combining crops and husbandry; 4- a progressive increase in agricultural specialization (crops grown and techniques) in parallel with a diversification in hydraulic technology. These results are to some degree in accordance with known phases of settlement intensification and economic growth, but also reveal the persistence of small-scale rural livelihoods during periods of harsh conditions for which archaeological traces are very scarce.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2021 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:18 April 2021
Date deposited:04 May 2021
Date of first online publication:14 May 2021
Date first made open access:14 May 2022

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar