Preliminary results of the international historical and ethnographic expedition following the project “The Material world of the Qur’an (the everyday life of Arabia in the Prophet's time)”

members of the expedition in a private Museum Bayt al-Safa in al-Hamra. Photo by Ivan Golubkov. The expedition following the project “The Material world of the Qur’an (the everyday life of Arabia in the Prophet's time)”, 2017.In March 15—31, 2017 in the framework of the project “The Material world of the Qur’an (the everyday life of Arabia in the Prophet's time)” being realized by Saint-Petersburg Kunstkamera Museum, Leiden Institute for Rational Monotheism (President – Aslbek Musin) and the journal “Manuscripta Orientalia” the international historical and ethnographic expedition was brought to pass with the support by the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman. Expedition route was as follows: Muscat — Rustaq — Nakhal — Wadi Mistal — Wadi Bani Kharus — Tanuf — Bahla — Jibreen — al-Hamra —Misfat Al Abriyeen — Wadi Ghul — Jabal Shams — Haima — Salalah — Duqm — Sur — Ibra — Muscat. For the first time Russian ethnographers had the opportunity to realize a research project in the territory of Oman, one of the most distinctive historical and cultural areas of Arabia, which preserved rich material for the remodelment of ethno-cultural patterns and reconstructions.

The main task of the expedition was gathering ethnographic, photo and video materials for  publication of the monograph devoted to the material world of the Qur’an and daily life of Arabia at the turn of 6th–7th centuries. This was one of the most important periods in the history of the Middle East, when the formation of state institutions ended the ethnic consolidation of the Arabian tribes and when a new ideology sprang up, uniting soon many millions of followers. The project is realized in the framework of the “Corpus Coranicum Petropolitana”, a joint project of LIRM and of the journal “Manuscripta Orientalia”. The book finalizing the project will include a series of photo and video illustrations, augmented reality, mobile apps that will be available on the project website. 

In the course of fifteen days of the field work the expedition on two SUVs covered about three thousand kilometers and brought back dozens of hours of video and more than 6000 professional photos.

HE Sheikh Abdallah b. Muhammad b. Abdullah al-Salmi, the Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman and Sheikh Aflah b. Ahmad al-Khalili, the Omani influential theologian, granted us the interviews in the framework of the projects “Live Raciopedia” (LIRM), and “Ijma‘ = Concordia” (MAE RAS).

Professor Efim Rezvan, Deputy Director of MAE RAS and “Manuscripta Orientalia” Editor-in-Chief, was the head of the expedition. In the expedition participated: Gerşom Qiprisçi, Director of the LIRM, Anna Kudriavtceva, author of the study “The Qur’an as a source for researching the material culture of Arabia at the turn of 6th–7th centuries”, Tatyana Solovyova, head of the strategic communications division of MAE RAS and film director of the project, Tatiana Fedorova, the photo artist, Alexander Soloviev, the leading camera man of the project, Ivan Golubkov, the operator of the drone and Igor Pankov, a specialist in the history of the mystical and ascetic movements in Islam. Among the expedition participants from Omani side were Omar Ahmed Saif al-Busaidi, Assistant director of the Department of Religious Media, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman as well as well known Omani photographer, designer and camera man, Ali Huwaishel al-Hatali, editor of PR Department of the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman, Hussein Ali Abdullah al-Harbi and Saif Sulaiman Nasser Al-Ruzaiqi, the drivers and experts in local history, both — Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman.

The expedition project would be never realized without the constant and sincere assistance of HE Sheikh Abdallah b. Muhammad b. Abdullah al-Salmi, Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman and Dr. Abdurrahman al-Salmi, Editor-in-Chief of “Al-Tafahum” journal.