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13 December 2003
Arabian Iron Age site under threat

Agricultural development and the uncontrolled 'dune bashing' on four-wheel-drive vehicles may obliterate important clues to the rich ancient past of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) if left unchecked. This is the fear expressed by Brien Holmes, chairman of the Al Ain chapter of the Emirates Natural History Group (ENHG), who has discovered pottery, metal and glass fragments dating back thousands of years at an archaeological site exposed by the shifting sands near Al Jabeeb, west of the Dubai to Al Ain highway.
     The exact location of the site, the size of two football fields and littered with pottery fragments and surface finds, hasn't disclosed yet. Holmes declined to publish the site's map and GPS readings to help preserve it before authorities secure the area for possible archaeological work. Members of the Al Ain chapter of the ENHG believe the site could be an Iron Age settlement.  "I stumbled upon this site among the dunes not far from farms and a camel training area in Jabeeb," said Holmes.
     The type and amount of material suggest the area was occupied over a long period of time. Some of the artefacts found nearby include metal objects, a variety of coins, flints, arrowheads, beads and glass bracelets which are quite common. The Iron Age site, a large flat area, is heavily littered with ancient pottery. "This suggests that the people who once occupied this site for a period of time simply moved to another place." said Holmes. "Although the Iron Age date of the new Jabeeb site is confirmed from the ceramic evidence, the purpose of the site has yet to be determined," he added.
     "There are no signs of buried structures, such as walls near the surface, or of collapsed structures. Perhaps the promontory was used over a long period as a camp-site for Iron Age inhabitants bringing animals to pasture." concluded Holmes.

Source: Gulf News (11 December 2003)

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