Oman Program Bar

Archaeological excavation in oman


student prepares for surveyThe spring semester 2013 in Oman is an exciting opportunity for students to participate in an archaeological research expedition to the Near East. Students selected to participate will learn important archaeological excavation and survey skills and spend a unique semester abroad functioning as part of a research team at a remote field site.

Participants will conduct bioarchaeological excavation of tombs and related architecture, as well as archaeological survey using state-of-the-art GPS technology to map mortuary monuments and learn about the people who inhabited our study area during the 3rd millennium BC. Participants will learn archaeological methods of excavation, osteological processing/analyses, artifact processing/analyses, GPS mapping, and GIS model building of a mortuary landscape.

Undergraduates will enroll in five courses for a total of 16 credits, and graduate students will enroll in three courses for a minimum of 9 credits, although this will

not be a traditional classroom learning experience. The nature of the program combined with the remoteness of the site, make this an ideal program for students who wish to get hands-on experience with a real working archaeological site and are also flexible, adaptable, culturally-sensitive and comfortable living in very basic conditions with a small group over an extended period of time. Preference will be given to undergraduate and graduate students who have previous archaeological fieldwork/spatial analysis experience. Participants must have satisfied the course prerequisite, or their equivalent.


Oman is a beautiful country of desert, mountains, and scenic coastlines on the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. It is an Islamic nation on the Arabian Peninsula bordering the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Participants will be expected to respect the local culture including traditions of modesty both in dress and behavior.

The group will live in a basic field house in a village in northern Oman. Although the exact location of the accommodations is not yet finalized, students can expect the village to be small, with a few restaurants and convenience stores.

Dhankdesert scene



The 2012-2013 field season will be the third season Temple University is excavating at this location, a fascinating ancient mortuary landscape. Participants will work in a number of different locations. Three teams will work simultaneously, and each team will rotate through all three areas of field work: communal tomb excavation, smaller individual or family tomb excavation, and archaeological survey of surrounding mortuary sites. Participants will learn skills relevant to each aspect of the fieldwork and also spend one week in the lab per module where they will learn to process the data collected during their fieldwork. All students are required to participate in all modules.

This project is not recommended for those who are insect-phobic or for those who prefer to not engage in physical labor in a desert environment. The group will take many breaks and have a lot of down-time, but archaeology can be hard work and involve long hikes. It is generally cool in the mornings and warm/hot in the afternoon, with little to no humidity (Jan: low 53°F, high 77°F; Feb: low 57°F, high 77°F; Mar: low 61°F, high 84°F; April: low 66°F, high 97°F).

A typical week will include fieldwork or laboratory work from 6:30am – 3pm and free time most evenings after returning from the field/finishing in the lab. Seminars will take place Saturday and Wednesday evenings following dinner. Thursdays and Fridays are rest days, and structured field trips to local archaeological sites will be planned. Students will complete readings during free time and will be encouraged to begin this work before leaving for the field.

tomb work



  • The work requires a good deal of physical exertion and hiking. It is important to recognize this fact and evaluate your physical limits before applying to the program. Students with specific questions about the physical work involved should contact the Program Director, Dr. Williams.
  • Due to the rigorous nature of the program, as well as the remoteness of the site, please note that final acceptance to the program is contingent upon medical approval which will include authorization from your physician after receiving a physical exam. Additional information will be provided to accepted students.
  • All participants must be flexible and willing to participate in all aspects of the fieldwork. You will get sweaty, you will be dirty, and you will have to be patient so that the entire group’s wellbeing is ensured. There will be long waits and times when you may be bored.
  • Cars leave for the sites at 6:30am. All participants must be ready on-time for the daily departure. You may find it hard to wake up, eat breakfast, and be ready to go that early, but the group cannot wait for late students. The field day is punctuated with a mid-morning break (15-30 minutes) and lunch (one hour). The group leaves the field site at 3pm.
  • Be prepared to go on long hikes in the sun, to not have access to toilet facilities at the excavation sites, and to encounter insects and animals.
  • You will get bored with eating the same thing for lunch every day or eating similar foods for each meal for three meals.
  • Smoking is not permitted on site, in the field house, in the car, or near any artifacts.
  • Plans do change, so it will be important to be patient and flexible.
  • This is an opportunity to travel to a magnificent country of mountains and deserts and a place with an intensively rich heritage and modern culture. It will be hard work but also a very rewarding experience.

NOTE: Students with disabilities are welcome and encouraged to apply. Upon acceptance to the program, we ask that you share information about any physical limitations and what you will need while abroad with Dr. Williams so we can discuss the extent of participation that can be accommodated.

student at site