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10 March 2009
Bronze Age seal discovered in Abu Dhabi

A team working for the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has found an ancient stone cylinder seal dating back to the beginning of the local Bronze Age, around 5,000 years ago. It is the first of its type found in Arabia and was found in the deserts of the Al Gharbia area of Abu Dhabi (UAE).
     The discovery was made by a team from GRM International that is currently undertaking the Abu Dhabi Emirate soil survey, which is managed by EAD. The seal was lying in an area where samples were being collected. The seal is in the Jemdat Nasr style, from Mesopotamia (Iraq), and was imported from Mesopotamia, according to a leading expert in Arabian archaeology, Professor Dan Potts of Australia's University of Sydney. Decorated with tiny carvings of women with their hair tied back in a plait, a stylised couch and a spider, the seal is dated to between 3,100 BCE to 2,900 BCE, according to Professor Potts. Similar seals have been found at Susa, in Iran, and at Khafajah and Uruk in Mesopotamia.
     While other cylinder seals from the Early Bronze Age have been found in the UAE, at Hili, near Al Ain, and at Al Sufouh, in Dubai, for example, these are from the slightly later Umm Al Nar period, which lasted from around 2,500 BCE to 2,000 BCE, making the Medinat Zayed find of special importance as the first of its kind.
Pottery from the Jemdat Nasr period has been found in tombs of the Hafit type, proving the existence of early contact between Mesopotamia and the UAE and Oman.
     "Virtually all of the reported sites from the inland deserts of Al Gharbia date either to the Late Stone Age, over a thousand years earlier than this find from Madinat Zayed, or to the Late Islamic period, covering the last few hundred years. There has been a gap in our knowledge of this period in Al Gharbia's history...," according to Peter Hellyer, who has been studying the archaeology of Al Gharbia for overĀ 15 years.

Sources: Gulf News (1 March 2009), Khaleej Times Online (2 March 2009)

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