The maritime heritage of Yemen: a focus on traditional wooden "dhows"
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Archaeopress.
This paper investigates the disappearing heritage of Yemen’s large wooden boats (dhows), both in its current socio-economic context and in historical perspective. Fieldwork conducted by members of the MARES project in February 2009 along the coast between Aden and Salif sought to record remaining evidence of wooden boats and their related industries and practices. Wooden boat use has been in sharp decline in recent decades, as dhow-based commerce has declined, and fishing communities have switched to fibreglass vessels. The fieldwork sought to record remaining dhows through simple survey techniques including photography and illustration, as well as close observation. It also involved ethnographic interviews with people who worked on these vessels, either as builders or mariners. In terms of the vessels themselves, the aim was to produce a typology of Yemeni dhows; to record examples of each; to understand construction sequences; and to inventory the distribution of surviving craft. The findings are compared with previous literature on the subject.
This research was conducted as part of the MARES Project, a three-year programme investigating the maritime past and heritage of the Red Sea and Arabian-Persian Gulf. MARES is based at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of the University of Exeter (http://projects.exeter.ac.uk/mares). The programme is generously funded by the Golden Web Foundation, an educational charity registered in the UK (www.goldenweb.org). Thanks are also due to the Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust, which provided additional financial support for the fieldwork. In addition, the MARES team would like to thank the following people for their assistance: Dr Abdulla M. Bawazir, President of Yemen’s General Organisation of Antiquities and Museums (GOAM); Dr Muhammad Taha al- Asbahi, General Director of Antiquities at GOAM; Dr Raja Batawil, head of GOAM in Aden; our GOAM-appointed field companion, Salah al-Mansuri; Mr. Hasan Saleh Shihab; Emily Allardyce, Fuad Mazid al-Matairi and their colleagues at the British Yemeni Language Institute; our driver and guide Muhammad al-Matairi; Edward Prados, Director of Amideast; Chris Evans; the British Council; and the British Embassy, Sanʿā. The team wishes to thank also the many individual informants along Yemen’s coast who generously gave of their time and expertise.
In D.A. Agius, T. Gambin, and A. Trakadas (Eds), Ships, Saints and Sealore: Cultural Heritage and Ethnography of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea . Oxford: Archaeopress. pp. 143—157.
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