Skip to main content

A group of archaeologists standing in front of a museum

From May to August 2023, we have partnered with the Palace Museum in Beijing, to host ‘Pearl by the Sea - The Comparative Exhibition of Ceramic Finds from Ras al-Khaimah and China’ at the Longquan Celadon Museum in Zhejiang, China.

Located at the southern entrance of the Hormuz Strait in the United Arab Emirates, Ras al-Khaimah, a forgotten historical gem, has played a crucial and strategic role in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean from early prehistory to modern times. Unlike its oil-rich sister emirates, it's valued by archaeologists for its rich history dating back to circa 2700 BC.

Excavations since the 1960s have unveiled circular stone tombs from the Umm an-Nar Culture in the early Bronze Age, mosques from the Islamic period, with coral stone houses, numerous Hormuz-minted copper and silver coins, and Chinese ceramic imports indicative of long-distance ancient global trade. The exhibition features over 50 ancient Chinese trade ceramics from the Julfar site in Ras al-Khaimah and showcases corresponding artefacts from the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Ancient Chinese trade ceramicsPhoto caption: Chinese blue and white porcelain vase dated to the 16th Century AD, housed in the Palace Museum (left), and similar finds from Ras al-Khaimah (right)

Over the past five years, our archaeologists including Dr Derek Kennet and Dr Ran Zhang, and the Palace Museum have studied numerous Chinese trade ceramics from the Julfar site in Ras al-Khaimah. This work highlights the extensive influence of historical cross-cultural interactions, deepening our appreciation for human global history and development.

Study Archaeology

We offer undergraduate and postgraduate options at Durham so you can explore Archaeology from a range of different perspectives including BA Archaeology of the Historic World, MA Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects and MA Museum and Artefact Studies.

Our Department of Archaeology is a leading centre for the study of archaeology and is ranked 10th in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023). We are an inclusive, vibrant and international community. Our students develop knowledge and gain essential and transferable skills through research-led teaching and lab-based training. Feeling inspired? Visit our Archaeology webpages for more information on our programmes.