The Archaeology Fund

About Us

Home

Incense

Archaeology

South Arabia

Myths and Legends

Research Questions

Incense Country Map

 

 

Since the mid-1980's, Juris Zarins, Ronald Blom and George R. Hedges have been engaged in explorations of the Incense Regions of Oman and Yemen. Initially, this team together with documentary film maker Nicholas Clapp and international adventurer Sir Ranulph Feinnes, joined in a search for the fabled "Lost City of Ubar," which legend has it was a city of dazzling wealth located in the region Empty Quarter, the great sand desert that lies in the heart of Arabia. Utilizing space imaging developed by Ron Blom at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the group identified ancient incense roads associated with the Ubar legend. Ancient maps and accounts, notably the map of Roman Geographer, Claudius Ptolemy, also guided the expedition. In 1991 a site was located at a place called Shisr on the edge of the Empty Quarter at the confluence of a number of ancient incense roads. Excavations at Shisr quickly revealed a major caravanserai active for hundreds of years and inhabited well into the Classical Period, a site that many have identified as the Lost City of Ubar. The discovery was one of Time magazine's "Top Ten Science Stories" of 1992 and the subject of a documentary that ran on the PBS NOVA Series. Subsequent field work in Southern Oman covering the period 1992-1995 was sponsored and supported by the government of the Sultanate of Oman under the direction of his Excellency Abdul-Aziz al-Rowas, Minister of Information. The results of this work have been recently released by the publication Dhofar: Land of Incense by Dr. Zarins.

In 1996, George Hedges, Ronald Blom and Juris Zarins established The Archaeology Fund, a not for profit corporation aimed at furthering the team's explorations of the incense roads and the civilization at the heart of the incense trade. In 1997, The Archaeology Fund launched a major expedition into the Mahra region of Yemen, the first comprehensive archeological survey ever made of this key part of the land of frankincense and myrrh. An extensive program of field surveys by The Archaeology Fund in the Mahra revealed over 150 major archaeological sites by 1999, all associated with the ancient trade in incense. In 2000, the first comprehensive survey in excavation season took place in the Wadi Masilah. Core funding for this work has been provided by nWAVE Entertainment, the Lucille & David Packard Foundation and, most significantly, by the Seaver Foundation based in Los Angeles, California.

 

Ron Blom

Ronald G. Blom earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geology from the University of California at Santa Barbara, a Master of Science degree from California State University Northridge, and a Ph.D. in Geological Remote Sensing from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has been a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, since 1978 with principal expertise in applications of space technology to earth science. He currently is Program Manager for the Solid Earth Science and Natural Hazards Program at JPL. He is also Adjunct Professor of Geology at San Diego State University, and a visiting scholar at Claremont Graduate University.

 

George R. Hedges [reference material]

George R. Hedges received his secondary education at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and subsequently received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts Degrees in Classical Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.
He went on to attend the University of Southern California Law Center and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1978. Since 1978 Mr. Hedges has been involved in the practice of intellectual property and entertainment-related litigation in Los Angeles. He is a partner in the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, a 170 attorney law firm with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Silicon Valley.

 

Lynne S. Newton

A life long resident of St. Louis, Missouri, she recieved her secondary education at Hazelwood East. She went on to obtain her BA in Antiquities at Southwest Missouri State University in 1996. She has recieved her MA at the University of Minnesota in 1999, she is currently working on her PhD there as well. Her field experience includes work in Missouri, Oman, as well as Yemen. Working primarily in the Later Historic periods of Southern Arabia, her field of study revolves around the ethnohistoric aspects of Arabian populations.

 

Juris Zarins [reference material]

Juris Zarins took an active interest in archaeology while a junior in high school thanks to the Smithsonian Institution's River Basin Salvage Archaeology program. Field experience began in South Dakota and extended into Nebraska and Kansas. He obtained his BA at the University of Nebraska in 1967. While an undergraduate, he continued archaeological work with the University of Nebraska and the Field Museum at Chicago, Illinois. He received his PhD at the University of Chicago in 1976 with an emphasis in Mesopotamian studies. Field experience in the Middle East included opportunities in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Appointed Cultural Advisor to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1974, he went on to develop an interest in ancient pastoral nomadic studies. In 1990, together with Nicholas Clapp, George Hedges, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dr. Ron Blom, they created the Trans Arabian Field project in the Sultanate of Oman. More recent work has centered on incense production and ancient populations in Yemen. Currently he is a Professor at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield.

 

The Archaeology Fund expresses sincere gratitude and appreciation to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for his invaluable support in this project.

Juris Zarins took an active interest in archaeology while a junior in high school thanks to the Smithsonian Institution's River Basin Salvage Archaeology program. Field experience began in South Dakota and extended into Nebraska and Kansas. He obtained his BA at the University of Nebraska in 1967. While an undergraduate, he continued archaeological work with the University of Nebraska and the Field Museum at Chicago, Illinois. He received his PhD at the University of Chicago in 1976 with an emphasis in Mesopotamian studies. Field experience in the Middle East included opportunities in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Appointed Cultural Advisor to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1974, he went on to develop an interest in ancient pastoral nomadic studies. In 1990, together with Nicholas Clapp, George Hedges, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dr. Ron Blom, they created the Trans Arabian Field project in the Sultanate of Oman. More recent work has centered on incense production and ancient populations in Yemen. Currently he is a Professor at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield.