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11 February 2004
3000-year-old settlement discovered in the UAE

An Australian-American archaeological team hosted by the Antiquities Directorate of the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information conducted detailed inspections of the Iron Age site found earlier in Muweileh in Sharjah (United Arab Emirates).
     The site, located 15km west of Sharjah city, has already revealed substantial evidence for a 3000-year old settlement which is one of the largest sites dating back to that age discovered so far in the UAE. Previous finds included the oldest writing found in the region, the oldest Iron-Age artifacts and many buildings including a columned hall that must have functioned as the centre of an economic and political power within the settlement.
     This season’s excavations revealed several buildings inside the fortification wall, said a spokesperson of the department. “Previously, we had assumed that the central area of the site consisted of an open courtyard, but it appears that it is not the case,” the spokesperson said, adding that the recent excavations also revealed a new gateway in the eastern side of the settlement.“
     This was constructed from stone and had a hardened plaster floor and had evidence for holes for large wooden doors. Several complete painted vessels and some iron artifacts were found associated with this gateway. To the south, a new building adjoining the fortification was also unearthed. This house is larger than most at the site and had plastered floors. A stone incense burner was found on the floor of one of the rooms of this building,” he said.
     The archaeological team found evidence of a fiery destruction that brought the settlement to an end around 750 BCE. “This conclusion was drawn from the fact that a lot of archaeological materials have been discovered including pots, clay ovens, animal bones, burnt dates and date-seeds and shells that would have been obtained by the old inhabitants from the coast for eating,” the spokesperson observed.
     “It is now clear that the ancient settlement of Muweileh was larger and more complicated than we originally thought,” said a spokesperson for the Australian-American team. Meanwhile, a Spanish Archaeological expedition from Otonoma University arrived in Sharjah to conduct excavations at Ak Thaquiba site in Al Madam Plain. The Spanish team will focus on resuming excavations of ancient canals of water springs discovered last season in addition to digging other parts of this agricultural settlement which dates back to the first millennium BCE.

Source: Khaleej Times (9 February 2004)

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