Qatar Museums (QM) has successfully completed the conservation and restoration of a date press site in Al Zubarah, it was announced yesterday. The restoration project, run under the patronage of QM’s Chairperson, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is part of a larger initiative by QM’s Architectural Conservation Department and archaeology department to restore historical and archaeological sites throughout Qatar.
The site discovered in 1980 underwent restoration during 2017-2018. The date press known as ‘Madabes’ in Arabic, offers a fascinating look at how the nutrient-rich juice was made in the olden days. This makes it an important addition to QM’s work aimed at connecting local audiences with their past. “Our excavations and ensuing conservation works are essential to preserving Qatar’s identity and rich heritage which dates back over thousands of years,” QM’s acting chief archaeology officer Ali al-Kubaisi said.
“We believe that Qatar’s future is in the hands of its youth who need to understand the deep layers that shaped their past and contributed to who they are today,” he stressed. “We want them to call upon the wisdom of their ancestors so that it may help them build a prosperous tomorrow for our country.” The restoration teams relied on a tailor-made Al Zubarah Conservation Manual, which offered detailed instruction on how to restore each date press pillar and cover it with a specially made plaster layer.
The process also included cleaning the area and removing surface erosion, which did not exceed 2mm, a testament to the success of the phased restoration process which began last year. Additionally, the Architectural Conservation Department is currently working on a detailed report highlighting the restoration process and recommending suitable conservation plans. Based on these recommendations, the date press site will receive the necessary resources to protect it in the future. The newly discovered site is the latest addition to Al Zubarah, a Unesco World Heritage site, which already features tours of the fort and surrounding excavations for the public.
The site sheds light on the socio-economic transformation of the area, and the history of urban trading and pearl-diving traditions which the coastal towns of the region have been known for. It is also one of several projects that the QM Architectural Conservation Department has been working to restore to the highest international standards and guidelines of Unesco.
Sources and photo-credits: Gulf Times