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29 December 2005
Ancient tomb restored in Abu Dhabi

The Hili Archaeological Park in Al Ain (Emirate of Abu Dhabi), one of the country's major tourist attractions, has a new feature to show visitors, it was announced by the Department of Antiquities in Abu Dhabi's Eastern Region. The feature is a restored stone-built collective tomb from the Umm al-Nar period, which lasted from around 2,700 BCE to 2,000 BCE, and which is named after another major archaeological site, on the island of Umm al-Nar, close to Abu Dhabi City.
     The restoration was undertaken by a joint team from the Department and France's Centre Nationale pour les Recherches Scientifques, CNRS, under the supervision of Dr. Walid Yasin al-Tikriti, archaeological adviser in the Department.The work took three weeks to complete. Dr. Al-Tikriti said that the tomb is one of twelve of the same period to have been found in the Hili Archaeological Park and adjacent areas. The presence at Hili of tombs from the Umm al-Nar period was first drawn to the attention of archaeologists in the early 1960s.
     As with other Umm al-Nar period tombs, the example which has been restored in circular in shape, and around seven metres in diamter, with four internal compartments, separated by dividing walls. There are two entrances to the tomb. Burials took place in the four compartments. The Umm al-Nar type tombs were used as collective burials for the local community and, over a period of time, the number of burials increased, in some cases to several hundred people.
     According to Dr. Al-Tikriti, the grave may have been in use for a period of up to 200 years. The original excavation of the tomb, around thirty years ago, uncovered a large number of disarticulated and fragmented human remains, as well as hundreds of pottery vessels and other items, some of which are now on display in Al Ain Museum.
     Most Umm al-Nar period graves were constructed on the surface so that they were visible from a considerable distance. The well-cut stones that formed their walls were subsequently robbed, for use in other construction, and often only a few layers of stone suvive, beneath the present-day land surface.  
     Other remains from the Bronze Age settlement at Hili include large mud-brick fortified towers, up to 20 metres in diameter. In all, the settlement is believed to have covered up to ten hectares. The inhabitants were engaged in agriculture and also in international trade, mining and exporting copper from the nearby Hajar Mountains, that was exported to Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and importing pottery and other items from Iraq, Iran and the Indus Valley civilisation.
     The main port serving Hili was on Umm al-Nar island, where similar collective graves and a settlement have been excavated, while other Umm al-Nar graves have been found throughout the UAE, at Jebel Buhais, in Sharjah, Al-Sufouh, in Dubai, Tell Abraq, in Sharjah, Shimal, in Ra's al-Khaimah, and at Bidiya, in Fujairah, for example, as well as in Oman.

Source: WAM (28 December 2005)

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