Semi-precious stones from Kuwait

3,500-year-old workshop discovered

On a tiny island off the coast of Kuwait, archeologists from Moesgaard Museum have discovered a workshop where, 3,500 years ago, jewellery was made from semi-precious stones from India and Pakistan.

From the year 2,100 BC, the island of Failaka in Kuwait was the support structure for trade to the major cities in Mesapotamia. It was primarily copper from the mountains of Oman which filled the ships’ cargo holds, but around the year 1,700 BC cheap copper from Cyprus began to outmatch deliveries from Oman. This lead to the collapse of a culture that had prospered from the maritime trade throughout the Persian Gulf. Temples and cities were abandoned, the tombs of the kings were looted and people had to tighten their belts.

A century later – around the year 1,600 BC – the trade returned the Gulf again and prosperity bloomed. On Failaka, where Moesgaard Museum has been excavating for the past nine years, a house was uncovered with ingots of semi-precious stones, e.g. carnelian and jaspis, on the floors. These materials were used to produce beads and delicately decorated seal stones, which the merchants used to seal their trade letters and shipments.

The exploration of the desert island of Failaka is part of Moesgaard Museum’s focus on the understanding of the trading routes and cultural exchanges between the East and the West during the Bronze Age.