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Tribal fortification

Dr Martin S. Goffriller
Nottingham Trent University

By expanding on the subject of tribal identities and their settlement patterns a fundamental area of enquiry arises from the spatial self-definition of tribally organised societies. The delineation of settlement spaces perceived as private by means of enclosures, towers and forts illustrates and mirrors a metaphysical reflection of a group's self-perception onto the landscape. In particular in a multi-tribal context fortifications fulfil a function that goes far beyond the basic military 'denial of area' concept often espoused in the past.

Castell del Rei, Mallorca
Castell del Rei, Mallorca. Photo: Martin S. Goffriller, 2009

The study of tribal fortifications is being carried out by Dr. Martin Goffriller and is currently concentrating primarily on Islamic Spain and on the hinterland of the Sultanate of Oman. At locations such as Izki, Barkat al-Mawz, Nizwa and Ibri the differing social structures resulted in distinctive fortificatory measures. This research initiative expects to include a longer term study of the Al-Busaidi fortresses of Adam, Manah and Bowsher.

 Viewshed analysis Alaro, Mallorca
ASTER DEM viewshed analysis.
Image: Martin S. Goffriller, 2010
Alaro, Mallorca.
Photo: Martin S. Goffriller, 2010

Key areas of interest

  • Islamic archaeology
  • Tribal settlement organisation
  • Medieval fortification