|21 August 2005
Ancient artefacts abound in Dubai
The discovery of ancient archaeological sites has transformed the simple agriculture city of Al Ain (Dubai) into an important centre of ancient history in the Arabian peninsula. A thriving civilisation existed in that area during the Stone and Bronze Ages, with its distinctive culture and character. Archaeological discoveries in the north of Al Ain a few years ago revealed a part of human settlements that date back to the Stone and Bronze Ages 5000 BCE.
Another important archaeology site is in the Hili area of Al Ain: this site houses the largest Bronze Age complex. Archaeological finds in this area have been incorporated into the Hili Archaeological Park. Several sites dating back to the Iron Age, about 1000BCE, are also located in the preserved archaeological area surrounding the park.
One of the most impressive monuments in the UAE is Hili Grand Tomb, which is more than 4,000 years old. The tomb, which was discovered in the 1960s, is located in the middle of the park. The remains of a huge ancient cemetery have been discovered in the northern and eastern foothills of Jebel Hafeet that date back between 3200 to 3000 BCE. A team of French archaeologists exploring the area indicated in February that the society in Hili and its surrounding areas thrived about 7,000 years ago.
The French team was involved in the seventh season of excavation at the Hili Tomb N. These excavations have been organised in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities and Tourism in Al Ain (Data). Most of the contents of the grave were originally excavated before 1989 by a team from Data, who decided to leave a part of the burial deposits in the central part of the structure untouched. The original excavations produced a huge amount of disarticulated and fragmented human remains mixed with hundreds of pottery vessels and other objects, according to Dr Walid Yasin, Adviser of Archaeology to Data.
French archaeologists have been working in the UAE since 1977. The first French team excavated two villages, one from the Bronze Age (Hili 8) and the other from the Iron Age (Rumeilah) in Al Ain. Research by another French team started again in 1998 after a break of nearly 15 years, with the excavations of Hili Tomb N and a re-examination of the famous Hili necropolis through geophysical and geological studies.
Dr Yasin said the new studies have revealed that a more sedentary way of life, compared to the previous Neolithic period, developed, at least for part of the population during the 3rd millennium BCE. At the end of the 4th millennium BCE, said Dr Yasin, several crops such as date palms, wheat, barley, sorghum, peas and melons were being cultivated throughout the year in the oasis of Hili.
The village of Hili, which spread over more than 10 hectares, was organised around big towers, made of unbaked bricks and reaching 20 metres in diameter. The tower at Hili 8 was rebuilt at least twice in less than a millennium. At the end of the third millennium two other Hili towers were also in use. There are a dozen tombs in the necropolis of Hili that were built during the Umm Al Nar period that started about 2700 BCE and ended about 2000 BCE.The number of people buried in each tomb increased with time, from tens to hundreds by the end of the third millennium.
Source: WAM - Emirates News Agency (19 August 2005)
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