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Masters of the springs: new evidence of social organization in early Dilmun, c.2250-1750 BC

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  • Steffen Laursen, Denmark
  • Section for Prehistoric Archaeology
Moesgård Museum and The Bahrain National Museum are collaborators on The Bahrain burial mound project which currently has completed the first phase of its extensive mound mapping programme and carried out minor excavations in selected mounds. Analysis of this new and improved cartographic data has led to a number of insights into the social organization of the mound cemeteries that will be presented in the paper.
It is obvious that there existed a close spatial relation between freshwater springs and the compact mounds cemeteries that emerged c.2050 BC. The mound cemeteries appear to have been flanked by villages that relied on these water recourses for agricultural production. The springs emerged in the zone separating the cemeteries from the settlements. The freshwater springs were actively incorporated into the religious landscape of the dead, by consistently erecting mounds of a particular high status type right above the head of each spring. These tombs of the masters of the springs are distinguished by their larger size and vertical shaft entrance. It is argued that this particular strategy of power was employed after population growth had intensified conflicts over the rights for water - a process which perhaps also is evidenced by temple constructions at Barbar, Umm al-Sujur and Abu Zaydan.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year1 May 2010
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010

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