Fieldwork Blog

The Coral Stone Mosques of Gaafaru

The Maldives Heritage Survey team has completed work on the island of Gaafaru, Kaafu Atoll. The island has been home to two coral-stone mosques. The larger of them (Bodu Miskiyy) was demolished more than thirty years ago. The team has, however, been able to sketch out a reconstruction of the floor plan of the now-lost building from its ruins and in conversation with members of the local community.

The sole remaining coral stone mosque on the island is Kuda Miskiyy – which currently serves as the island’s only mosque for women. While documenting this structure we discovered a date inscribed into one of its beams: 1269 AH (= 1853 CE). Parts of the earlier structure have, however, been renovated in 2002.


New Documentation at Kuruhinna Tharaagadu

Much of the team’s work on the island of Kaashidhoo has been focused on the site of a former Buddhist monastery at Kuruhinna Tharaagadu. This is one of only a very few sites in the Maldives to have been previously studied through a scientific archaeological investigation, led by Dr Egil Mikkelsen and a team from the National Centre for Linguistic and Historical Research in 1996-1998.  A full report on this is accessible through the MHS website – Archaeological Excavations of a Monastery at Kaashidhoo.
In our recent work there, we cleared the accumulated overgrowth on the site, and made a comprehensive new set of visual records using drone fly-overs, photogrammetry and 3D laser scanning. These new images will soon be made available through our online database.


MHS Recording Historic Sites on Kaashidhoo, Malé Atoll

The Maldives Heritage Survey team is currently working on the island of Kaashidhoo in Malé Atoll. There we are clearing and digitally documenting the ruins of a large pre-Islamic site, as well as the ruined fragments of an earlier coral stone mosque and ornamented gravestones in its surrounding cemetery.
The MHS will be working closely with Maldives Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage and the Kaashidhoo Island Council, as well as other government agencies and the broader community to digitally document these sites, and to help all stakeholders develop better heritage management plans for the future.



Fieldwork begins in Fuvahmulah (Gnaviyani Atoll)

The MHS team has now completed the survey of Laamu Atoll, covering 70 islands on which we have documented 92 sites including 255 structures, 969 old gravestones, 107 grave enclosures, and 48 small artefacts. Upon wrapping up that work, the team has now moved on to the island of Fuvahmulah (Gnaviyani Atoll).
Upon arrival there, work commenced at the site of the old Gen Mosque. On site we were visited by a television crew from Maldives Public Service Media (PSM), who recorded footage of the team at work and interviewed team members in Dhivehi. A segment featuring the Maldives Heritage Survey was subsequently broadcast nationally on 10 October, 2018.

Work completed on Hulhiyadhoo Island, Laamu Atoll

Historically, this island is known as the site of exile – and ultimate resting place – of Aiminaa Rani Kilegefaanu, who had held nominal authority at Malé during the turbulent mid-eighteenth century interregnum. The island was later deserted and the population relocated to Kalaidhoo on the island of Isdhoo in the 1950s. In September 2018, the Maldives Heritage Survey Team identified three sites on the island, including the ruins of two mosques and the remains of a large Muslim cemetery containing over 200 old coral stone grave markers.  This short video, taken and edited by the field survey team, presents an informal look at their daily work on Hulhiyadhoo.


Fieldwork Resumes in Laamu Atoll

The Maldives Heritage Survey has resumed fieldwork in Laamu from a new base camp on Maavah Island. From there we are conducting a systematic survey of the largely uninhabited islands of the western rim of the atoll.


Stakeholders Workshop in Male’

The Maldives Heritage Survey has resumed work after the Ramadan break, kicking off the new season with a workshop at the National Museum in Malé.
This event brought together a diverse range of local stakeholders including local historians and representatives of several government agencies to discuss areas of critical concern for heritage documentation and management in the Maldives, as well as potential areas for future collaboration with the project.

Pre-Islamic Statues Discovered

Just over a month ago, two small pre-Islamic statues were discovered in the course of construction work expanding the Hudhaa Mosque in Kalaidhoo, Laamu Atoll (Hahdhunmathee). The MHS Field Team was able to access these objects near the site at which they had been found, where they were systematically measured and photographed.
Following field documentation of these artefacts they were carefully packaged to prevent any further damage, and arrangements have now been made through the Maldives Department of Heritage to secure the objects for preservation.  

Laamu Atoll – First Phase

The MHS Field Team has completed its initial survey of Isdhoo-Kalaidhoo island in Laamu Atoll (Hahdhunmathee), where we have documented the Isdhoo Aasaaree Miskiiy mosque and cemetery site.
A large Buddhist ritual complex comprising of the ruins of 50 structures and surrounding walls in the vicinity of two large mounds, and a number of other smaller sites including a (now submerged) bathing tank and the ruins of a deserted mosque site and cemetery have also been recorded.


Fieldwork Begins!

Fieldwork has commenced in Isdhoo, Laamu Atoll where the team will be working on a number of sites, including the Isdhoo Asaaree coral stone mosque complex, the area around the Isdhoo Bodu Haiytheli mound, and a number of other, previously undocumented sites on the island. Our field survey of some of the overgrown areas around the mound in particular has already revealed elements indicating that it was situated within a much larger complex associated with that well-known monument than had been noted by earlier observers. Our current work is on trying to more clearly establish the broader contours of the site, and to document the ruins of several dozen structures that we have discovered there.