A local excavation mission led by Dr Ferhan Sakal, Head of Excavation and Site Management at Qatar Museums discovered the oldest known natural pearl bead in Qatar, corresponding to the earliest human settlements on the peninsula.

Dated to 4600 BCE, the historic find was enclosed within a grave at Wadi Al Debaian, one of the country’s oldest Neolithic sites.

According to Qatar Museums Director of Archaeology Faisal Abdulla Al-Naimi, their team unearthed a find of considerable historic and sociological importance, pointing to the first traceable origins of Qatar’s human settlements and their use of the locally-occurring pearl enclaves.

With each new remnant of Qatar’s past that comes to light, we gain a clearer understanding of and appreciation for our communal history and identity, which ultimately inform our aspirations for a sustainable future.

The recently discovered grave points to the earliest known evidence of Qatar’s antique pearl diving industry, which over centuries formed the centre of trade and economic influx to the country. It also offers new insights into the early civilizations occupying the peninsula, including prevalent social structures and wealth distribution.

Located a few kilometres south of Al Zubarah on Qatar’s northwest coastline, Wadi Al Debaian has yielded several important archaeological finds over the years, including pottery originating from the Ubaid period (ca 6500 to 3800 BCE) of South Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), obsidian from Anatolia (modern Turkey) and more burial sites.

Wadi Al Debaian falls under the conservation and outreach scope of Qatar Museums. Through their year-round excavations and fieldwork, Qatar Museums aims to preserve and document Qatar’s heritage through the epochs and to construct a link between modern communities and their past.

The Wadi Al Debaian Neolithic cemetery was excavated as part of the National Priority Research Programme ‘Human Populations and Demographics in Qatar from the Neolithic to the late Iron Age’ led by Sidra Medicine and funded by Qatar National Research Fund.

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