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UAE Tourist Attractions

Al-Dur
The largest pre-Islamic site on the Gulf coast of the UAE, al-Dur is located several kilometres north of Umm al-Qaiwain just east of the main highway running from Sharjah to Ras al-Khaimah. The site is enormous, extending for roughly 4 km northeast to southwest, and about 1 km inland from the highway. Al-Dur has been known since the early 1970s when an Iraqi expedition first conducted excavations at the site. In the 1980s and 1990s a European expedition (Belgian, British, Danish, French), followed by a strictly Belgian team conducted extensive excavations at al-Dur.

Like Mileiha, al-Dur consists not of a single concentrated area of ruins but is rather a sprawling site in a sandy environment with numerous private houses, some large and some small, scattered over a large area adjacent to the coast. These include small, rectangular, single-room dwellings, as well as large, multi-roomed structures with semi-circular buttresses. Both types of house, as indeed all of architecture at the site, are built of blocks of beach-rock (Arabic farush) which was locally available in the shallow lagoons close to the site. Thousands of graves are interspersed in between the houses at al-Dur.

These range from simple, rectangular cists to large, stone structures much like their mudbrick counteparts at Mileiha. In several cases it is clear that the larger tombs at al-Dur held the remains of more than one individual, perhaps a family. Grave goods included drinking sets, Roman glass, weaponry, pottery, jewellery and ivory objects.

The two largest public monuments on the site are a small square fort, c. 20 m on a side, with round corner towers reminiscent of forts built by the Parthians, and a small, square temple, c. 8 m on a side, in which an inscribed basin with a dedication to the Semitic solar deity Shams was found.

Coinage was abundant at al-Dur and included small numbers of foreign coins as well as hundreds of locally minted pieces bearing the name of Abi'el. Although we are uncertain what the ancient name of al-Dur may have been, it is very likely that it was the site of Omana known to both Pliny and Strabo as an important market town in the lower Gulf region. The site's heyday was certainly the first century AD, although some occupation in the third/fourth centuries AD is also attested.

Al-Madam
Located south of al-Dhaid in the interior of Sharjah, al-Madam is an extensive plain with the remains of a major Iron Age mudbrick settlement, comparable in most respects to those excavated at Rumeilah and nearby al-Thuqaibah. The site has been excavated by a joint French-Spanish team from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris and the Autonomous University of Madrid. Al-Madam is particularly interesting in that it seems to have been supplied by water via a falaj-system running from the foothills of the Hajar mountains to what were once the site's agricultural fields.

Al-Madar
This is the name given to a small site overlooking the palace of the Crown Prince of Umm al-Qaiwain, HH Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mualla. First discovered by a French archaeological team in the early 1980s, al-Madar was subsequently visited by the European Expedition to Umm al-Qaiwain in 1986, and partially excavated in 1992 by Prof. Hans-Peter Uerpmann and a team from the University of Txbingen (Germany). Al-Madar is a site belonging to the Arabian bifacial tradition which shows evidence of fishing and shellfish collecting. It is one of many similar sites located in the area alongside the lagoon system of Umm al-Qaiwain. In antiquity it may have been located on an island, when sea-levels were different, even though it is today about 1 km from the coast.

Al-Qusais
Al-Qusais is today a suburb of Dubai but in antiquity it was the site of an important settlement and associated cemetery. Excavations there in the early 1970s and 1980s revealed the existence of a settlement dating to the second and first millennium BC Shaft graves dug straight into the sabkha, of similar date, yielded large numbers of copper or bronze vessels and weaponry, as well as many soft-stone vessels. Much of the material from al-Qusais is on display in the Dubai Museum.

Al-Sufouh
This name has recently been given to a suburb south of Dubai. In the early 1990s a tomb of typical Umm al-Nar-type was found here and subsequently excavated, along with parts of an adjacent settlement, by an Australian team in conjunction with Dubai Municiaplity. The most striking feature of the tomb at al- Sufouh was the fact that, just outside of it, were four pits containing human bone, most of it burnt. It is possible that this bone, which may or may not have come from the main tomb itself (i.e. been re-buried), represents the remains of extensive cremation episodes.

Some pits held the remains of c. 50 individuals, all seemingly cremated at the same time. The high temperatures reached in these cremation episodes (revealed by the calcined nature of the bone and warping of some of the bones and artifacts) suggests that the bodies were cremated while they still contained flesh. In other words, they were not cremated after a period of exposure had removed the flesh. Cremation has also been noted at other sites of this period in the Emirates but it is not certain whether this was standard practice in the UAE during the Umm al-Nar period, or whether it was occasioned by particular circumstances (e.g. a plague) which warranted purification at high temperatures.

Al-Thuqaibah
This large mudbrick village dates to the Iron Age and is located near al-Madam, south of Dhaid in the interior of Sharjah. In plan it resembles both al-Madam and Rumeilah. The multiplicity of similar villages in the Emirates around 1000-500 BC suggests the existence there of a large, agriculturally-based population which cultivated cereals, raised sheep, goat and cattle, and tapped the rich underground aquifers of the Hajar mountains by means of falaj irrigation technology. The population of the Emirates at this time was probably larger than at any point previously in its history.

Awhala
South of Kalba, and inland from the coast, lies the village of Awhala. This small settlement, which belongs to the emirate of Fujairah, sits on the north side of an east-west oriented wadi which empties out onto the Batinah plain of northern Oman. Situated on a terrace above the wadi is a mudbrick fortified house of nineteenth century date which covers the western corner of an Iron Age fortified enclosure.

The enclosure wall is a massive 2.3 m in width, preserved in places to 1.4 m above the modern ground level. The enclosure wall is no longer extant on its southern side, where it has been eroded away by the wadi, but the north side is c. 60 m long and the east side is preserved to a length of over 50 m. An elaborate gateway was preserved near the northeast corner of the enclosure. Charcoal recovered in an excavation in the interior of a building within the enclosure wall gave a date of c. 800 BC. The Iron Age fortified enclosure of Husn Awhala recalls a similar structure at Wadi Fizh in northern Oman, and the main walls have the same width as a stone wall excavated at Kalba.

Ayn al-Faydah
Ayn al-Faydah is the name give to an area of fossil lakebed sediments located on the alluvial plain to the northwest of Jebel Hafit in the interior of Abu Dhabi (55'43'20" E, 24'05'25" N). These sediments, c. 3.5 m thick, represent the remains of a lake which was fed by the seasonal flooding of wadis to the west of Jebel Hafit. Freshwater snails (Melanoides tuberculata) from various layers in the lake bed deposits show that there must have been a semi-permanent or permanent lake at Ayn al-Faydah at various points in time. Examples of these have been dated by the radiocarbon method to the fifth millennium BC, precisely that time of optimal climatic conditions which coincided with the large number of Arabian bifacial tradition sites throughout the region. Such fossilised remains of standing lakes - even semi-permanent ones - are important indicators of palaeoclimate in the United Arab Emirates.

Bithna
This small oasis is located in the Wadi Ham, the main route of access leading from the interior of the UAE to Fujairah on the East Coast. In addition to a fine example of a local mudbrick fort dating, most probably, to the nineteenth century, Bithna is also the site of an important tomb from the second millennium BC which was investigated by a Swiss team of archaeologists from Geneva. The tomb at Bithna is T-shaped and thus resembles somewhat another grave excavated by a German team at Dhayah in northern Ra’s al-Khaimah. The Bithna structure was badly disturbed in antiquity and the human remains recovered were meagre. Pottery and soft-stone vessels show that the tomb was used from about the middle of the second millennium BC through the first millennium BC.

Bidya
This small oasis on the Batinah coast is located in northern Fujairah, between Khor Fakkan and Dibba. Bidya is well-known to travellers because of its unusual and very old, twin-domed mosque, generally considered the oldest mosque in the UAE But the history of Bidya extends much further back in time. A third millennium round tower, comparable to the ones excavated at Tell Abraq and Hili 8, marks the existence of an important site here c. 2500-2000 BC A long, semi-subterranean grave, very similar to the one excavated at Qattarah in the Al Ain oasis, is located nearby.

Material from secondary burial within the tomb, including glazed Parthian pottery similar to that found at Al-Dur and Mileiha, also occurs. Finally, the poorly preserved remains of a Portuguese fort have recently been excavated by an Australian expedition. Bidya is typical of many settlements in the northern Emirates. It probably thrived on its position at the mouth of a wadi leading into the interior of the Hajar mountains, while exploiting its position on the coast and utilising the abundant nature resources of the Arabian Sea. Objects from the various excavations conducted at Bidya over the years are on display in the Fujairah Museum.

This large mound (c. 100 x 120 m, 6.5 . high) stands on the edge of the Shimal plain to the north of Ras al-Khaimah city. Excavations here since 1994 by a British expedition have revealed a long sequence of occupation extending from the time of the Sasanians (perhaps third/fourth centuries AD as in Area F at al-Dur) to the early fourteenth century. In the intervening periods there are abundant examples of imported Iraqi (Samarran), Iranian and Far Eastern ceramics which, taken together, provide an important archaeological sequence for the northern Emirates over the course of roughly 1000 years. Amongst the more exotic finds was a coffee bean, the earliest yet recovered in the UAE. Kush is likely to represent a town which was the forerunner of the later emporium of Julfar, closer to the coast.

Dalma
One of the most important islands off the west coast of Abu Dhabi, Dalma has been inhabited since the mid-Holocene as shown by the presence there of stone tools belonging to the Arabian bifacial tradition. The island sits some 80 km east of the Qatar peninsula, and measures c. 9 x 5 km, rising to a maximum elevation of 98 m above sea-level. Dalma is a volcanic island and today has a population of c. 5000 people. In the late nineteenth century Dalma was the only island on the Great Pearl Bank with a population year round. More than 20 archaeological sites have been found on the island, ranging in time from the late prehistoric era to an early twentieth century mosque (Sa'id Jum'a al-Qubaysi). The island's main prehistoric site, DA 11, is located within the Abu Dhabi Women's Federation enclosure, and has yielded some of the region's earliest evidence of datepalm cultivation along with sherds of ‘Ubaid pottery and finely flaked stone tools. The vast majority of the island's archaeological sites date to the last few centuries of the Islamic era.

Dhayah
Dhayah is the site of a prehistoric cemetery some 7 km north-northeast of Shimal in northern Ras al-Khaimah. Excavations at Dhayah were begun in 1987 by a German expedition from G?ttingen. Second millennium BC tombs similar to those excavated at Shimal can be found at Dhayah, as well as a T-shaped tomb which is generally comparable to the one at Bithna. The finds from the Dhayah tombs include two etched carnelian beads, most probably from the Indus Valley, and a gold pendant of beaten gold consisting of two animals standing, rump to rump, with a joined tail ending in two spirals. Similar pendants are known from Qattarah and Bidya.

Fashghah
Fashghah is located in the Wadi al-Qawr, an important east-west thoroughfare in the southern enclave of Ras al-Khaimah. In the early 1980s prehistoric tombs were located here which were later excavated between 1989 and 1992 by a British expedition. Fashghah is most notable because it was there that a hitherto unknown, horseshoe-shaped type of tomb was first discovered. A virtually identical one has also been excavated at Qidfa in the emirate of Fujairah. These tombs date to the late second millennium BC but were re-used in the Iron Age and in the time of al-Dur and Mileiha (first century AD) as well. Hundreds of soft-stone vessels of Iron Age type were recovered in the tomb at Fashgha.

Ghalilah
This small village is located north of Shimal in northern Ra’s al-Khaimah. Close to the hills at the base of the Hajar Mountains here are a number of tombs, several of which were investigated in the 1970s and 1980s by a series of British expeditions. In particular, a large, roughly ovoid tomb-type with a central, internal pier has come to be called the 'Ghalilah' type tomb for it was here that examples were first investigated. These date to the early-mid second millennium BC The remains of an Iron Age settlement have also been identified at Ghalilah, just east of the modern village.

Hili
Within the confines of Fun City in the northern part of Hili are several tombs which date to the end of the third millennium BC (c. 2300-2000 BC). Of these, the most well-investigated is without doubt Tomb A. Excavated by a French team in cooperation with the local Dept. of Tourism and Antiquities, Tomb A is a circular construction c. 10.5 m in diameter, with three internal dividing walls which create four interior chambers. The remains of well over 200 individuals were recovered in the tomb, along with dozens of ceramic and soft-stone vessels, including examples of imported black-on-greyware from southeastern Iran or Baluchistan. Copper tools and two etched carnelian beads, originating in the Indus Valley, were also recovered.

The modern suburb of Al Ain known as Hili is famous among local residents for its beautiful garden. In fact, the garden and its immediate hinterland are the location of a large number of Bronze Age and Iron Age sites, dating to c.2500-400 BC Of these, Hili 8 is perhaps the best investigated, thanks to a French expedition which began work there in the late 1970s. Hili 8 consists of a round mudbrick tower with associated outbuildings. Such towers are typical of the late third millennium BC in both Oman and the UAE. Other examples have been excavated at Tell Abraq, Bidya and Kalba in the Emirates, and at Baat, Maysar and Ras al-Jins in Oman. Hili 8 has evidence of slight occupation at the very beginning of the second millennium BC as well. Thereafter human settlement in the region shifted to other sites, such as Qattarah and Rumeilah.

Hayl
Hayl is the name given to an abandoned village in the Wadi al-Hayl about 13 km east of Kalba in the Emirate of Fujairah. Located in a mountainous location, Hayl is a site which consists of numerous different buildings and features scattered about the sides and terraces of the main wadi and its tributaries.

A small fort or husn perched on an isolated rock outcrop has been carbon dated to between 1470 and 1700 AD Its loopholes and firing slots show that it was intended as a defensive lookout position. Hundreds of petroglyphs, or pictures engraved (usually by pecking) on stone, litter the terraces on either side of the wadi. Many of these depict animals, some isolated anthropomorphic figures, and still others horses and riders. Judging by similarities between the figures depicted at Hayl and those found on seals and pendants from sites such as Tell Abraq, it seems certain that the oldest of the Hayl petroglyphs must date back into the early 1st or 2nd millennium BC.

More recent remains include the extensive ruins of houses, field walls, a cemetery and a fortified house identified as the palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamdan al-Sharqi. The palace was built at the beginning of the twentieth century. Sheikh Abdullah came from a minor branch of the Fujairah ruling family who lived near Dibba, in northern Fujairah. The palace and surrounding structures are under the protection of the Fujairah Museum.

Husn Madhab
Husn Madhab is the name given to a small fortified enclosure perched on top of a spur of the Hajar mountains immediately to the west of Fujairah. It takes its name from the Wadi Madhab at the entrance to which it stands guard. The husn, Arabic for a small fort, is made of unmasoned stone and consists largely of a wall running along the contour of the rock outcrop together with the remains of several rooms. A Swiss team of archaeologists investigated Husn Madhab in the early 1990s and concluded on the basis of surface finds (mainly pottery) that, although the site seems to have been used in the medieval era, it was originally constructed in the Iron Age, perhaps around 1000-500 BC A similar enclosure stands on a rock outcrop high above the tombs at Jebel Buhays.

Several kilometres up the Wadi Madhab, nestled up against the side of the rock valley, are the remains of copper refining dating to approximately the ninth-eleventh centuries AD These consist of half a dozen horseshoe-shaped smelting ovens in which locally mined copper was refined. The smelting ovens of Wadi Madhab are virtually identical to some recently published examples in the Wadi Safafir of Oman.

Hulaylah
This 8 km long island of sand to the north of Ras al-Khaimah city and to the south of Rams is separated from the mainland by a narrow lagoon, called the Khor Khuwair, which is passable on foot at low-tide. Virtually the entire length of the island shows sign of human occupation, mainly in the form of pottery scatters and, under the sand, of burning where hearths and palm-frond houses ('arish) once stood.

The earliest material from Jazirat al-Hulaylah dates to the time of the Sasanians and continues, intermittently, up to the eighteenth century AD Imported pottery from Iran, Iraq and the Far East can be compared with finds from other Islamic sites in the UAE such as Kush, Jumeirah and Julfar. Indeed, Jazirat al-Hulaylah may have been one of the forerunners of the Julfar known to the Portuguese as al-Mataf.

This affluent suburb to the south of Dubai city is the location of an important archaeological site dating to the early Islamic period. Large houses built of beach rock (farush) covered with lime plaster have been excavated at Jumeirah by a team from the Dubai Museum. Based on a study of the pottery found at the site, Jumeirah seems to date to the first two or three centuries of the Islamic era. Thus, it is in part contemporary with the sequence at Kush in northern Ras al-Khaimah, and with Jazirat al-Hulaylah. Jumeirah is, however, the only complete settlement with well-preserved architecture yet excavated from this important period. A selection of the finds from Jumeirah can be seen in the Dubai Museum.

Jebel Buhays
This prominent rock outcrop to the south of Mileiha and al-Dhaid is the site of numerous graves dating to the Iron Age and second millennium BC (so-called Wadi Suq period) which have been excavated since 1995 by Dr. Sabbah A. Jasim, director of the Sharjah Archaeological Museum. In addition, on the terrace to the east of Jebel Buhays, is an important burial ground used by some of the UAE’s first inhabitants.

Dating to c. 5000-4000 BC, the site has yielded the remains of dozens of several hundred individuals and is being excavated by a team from the University of Txbingen (Germany) under the direction of Prof. Hans-Peter and Dr. Margarethe Uerpmann. The ancient inhabitants of Jebel Buhays hunted gazelle, oryx, wild ass and camel, and raised cattle, goat and sheep. They used stone tools belong to the Arabian bifacial tradition.

Jebel Emalah
A prominent rock outcrop located between Mileiha and al-Madam on the main north-south highway in the interior of Sharjah, Jebel Emalah has a small number of prehistoric graves clustered along its eastern slope. Excavations there in 1993 and 1994 by an Australian team revealed the existence of large, prehistoric graves, similar to those at Jebel Hafit, dating to c. 3000 BC. These had been re-used repeatedly through time, as objects datable to the third and first millennium BC, and the sixth-seventh centuries AD, clearly demonstrated. The latest burials, that of a man holding an iron spear, and a camel burial, date to the very end of the pre-Islamic era or the first century of Islam. A fossil lake bed to the east of Jebel Emalah is reminiscent of Ayn al-Faydah near Jebel Hafit as well.

Jebel Hafit
This name has been given to an anticline of mainly Tertiary rocks formed as a result of a Cretaceous period, mid-oceanic Tethys ridge near the Gulf of Oman. Jebel Hafit is oriented almost exactly north-south, just south of Al Ain in the interior of Abu Dhabi. A prominent feature of the landscape today (up which motorists can drive thanks to a road built by Sheikh Zayed), Jebel Hafit would have been just as prominent for the region's prehistoric population.

Circular graves dating to c. 3000 BC are dotted along the eastern slope of Jebel Hafit. These consist of massive cairns of unmasoned stone piled up around a keyhole-shaped chamber. Similar graves of even larger dimensions are known at Jebel Emalah in the interior of Sharjah. Because such graves were first identified and excavated at Jebel Hafit, they have come to be known as 'Hafit-type' graves. Most of the graves at Jebel Hafit were robbed in antiquity, but those excavated by successive Danish, Iraqi and French expeditions give evidence of having held more than one person, perhaps up to five or six, and thus represent the first of a long line of collective burials in the UAE.

Julfar
The forerunner of the modern city of Ras al-Khaimah, Julfar is mentioned by Arabic geographers and historians in connection with the initial Islamic conquest of the northern Emirates, and subsequently in descriptions of political events during the Umayyad, 'Abbasid and Buwayhid periods. Sources say that it was inhabited by the Azd during the eighth and ninth centuries AD, and that the houses of the Azd were built of wood.

The sources are uniform in considering Julfar a port and harbour, but there is no conclusive archaeological evidence as yet of where the ruins of early Julfar lie. Some scholars believe they may be represented by the site of Kush, where there is occupation dating to this period, or at Jazirat al-Hulaya. Certainly there are no remains of such an early date at al-Mataf, closer to the coast, where British, French and Japanese archaeologists excavated throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Al Idrisi's remark, dating to the twelfth century, that sand bar formation inhibited navigation around Julfar might indeed suggest that the location of the harbour of this name indeed shifted over time. Al-Mataf, located close to modern Ras al-Khaimah, seems to have been founded in the fourteenth century and is probably the site mentioned in numerous Portuguese, Dutch, and English sources of the subsequent three centuries. It was certainly a thriving port and emporium in 1517 when the Portuguese arrived in the Gulf, although by this time under the power of the kingdom of Hormuz. Julfar's most famous son was without doubt the renowned mariner Ibn Majid.

The Portuguese subsequently built a fort at Julfar, which is depicted in several Portuguese manuscripts. By the second half of the eighteenth century, however, the centre of activity had shifted to the site of modern Ras al-Khaimah city.

Jumeirah
Jumeirah Archaeological Site 'sixth century AD' once a caravan station along a trade route linking Iraq to northern Oman.

Kalba
One of the most important settlements on the Batinah coast of the UAE, Kalba is also the location of an important mangrove stand (Khor Kalba). The prehistory of Kalba has been investigated in recent years by a team from the Institute of Archaeology in London, working at a mound in the Kalba gardens to the west of the main town. Here a large settlement dating back to the Umm al-Nar period and settled well into the first millennium BC is being excavated. The site at Kalba is comparable in many respects to Tell Abraq and provides a long sequence of human occupation for the East Coast of the UAE, just as Tell Abraq does for the Gulf coast. A massive Iron Age wall at Kalba is almost identical in dimensions and construction to the Iron Age fortification enclosure wall at Awhala in southern Fujairah.
Early in the sixteenth century the Portuguese, expanding their empire in the Indian Ocean, built a series of forts along the southeastern coast of Arabia, including one at Kalba. In his Viaggio dell'Indie Orientali (Venice, 1590) the Venetian jeweller Gasparo Balbi mentions a place on the Arabian coast called 'Chelb' which is probably Kalba. Kalba was visited by a Dutch ship called the Meerkat in 1666. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Kalba was tributary to Sharjah, but in 1937 it was recognised as a Trucial sheikhdom by the British government.

Khatt
This extensive oasis in northern Ra’s al-Khaimah is famed for its hot spring which today constitute one of the area's main tourist attractions. Yet in the past the area was popular as well, as shown by the large number of archaeological sites of all periods which dot the district. No fewer than 163 sites were recorded around Khatt during a survey conducted in October, 1992. These ranged from sites with stone tools in the Arabian bifacial tradition to nineteenth century mudbrick fortification towers. While a large number of prehistoric tombs were identified, relatively few settlements were found.

The most important early settlement was a site called Nud Ziba, which has painted pottery from c. 2000 BC comparable to that found at Tell Abraq, while later settlement was clustered immediately west of the modern date plantations. The apparent absence of settlement in the area is probably due to the fact that cultivation over the course of 5000 years has destroyed ancient settlements, whereas tombs, normally built of stone, were more enduring. Khatt has given its name to a particular type of large, oval tomb of second millennium BC date which was first observed in the area.

Khor Fakkan
One of the most important harbours on the east coast of the UAE, Khor Fakkan has a long history of human settlement. Excavations by a team from the Sharjah Archaeological Museum have identified 34 graves and a settlement belonging to the early-mid second millennium BC. These are clustered on rock outcrops overlooking the habour.

In 1580 the Venetian jeweller Gasparo Balbi noted 'Chorf' in a list of places on the east coast of the UAE, and this is almost certainly Khor Fakkan. The Portuguese built a fort at Khor Fakkan. By 1666 this was a ruin, for it figures in the log book of the Dutch vessel known as the Meerkat where we read: 'Gorfacan is a place on a small bay which has about 200 small houses all built from date branches, near the beach. It had on the Northern side a triangular Portuguese fortress, of which the desolate ruin can still be seen.

On the Southern coast of the bay in a corner there is another fortress on a hill but there is no garrison nor artillery on it, and it is also in ruins. This place has a beautiful valley with a multitude of date palms and some figtrees and there also grow melons, watermelons and myrrh (!). Under the trees there are several wells which are used for irrigation. It is good and fresh water'.

One reason for the ruinous state of the forts at Khor Fakkan may have been that the Persian navy, under the command of Sheikh Muhammad Suhari (an Omani from Sohar), invaded the East Coast of what is now the Emirates in 1623 and, facing a Portuguese counter-attack, withdrew to the Portuguese forts, including that of Khor Fakkan. When the Persians were expelled, the Portuguese commander Ruy Freire urged the people of Khor Fakkan to remain loyal to the Portuguese crown, and established a Portuguese customs office as well. In 1737, however, long after the Portuguese had been expelled from Arabia, the Persians again invaded Khor Fakkan, with the help of the Dutch, during their intervention in the Omani civil war. In 1765 Khor Fakkan belonged to a sheikh of the Qawasim, according to the German traveller Carsten Niebuhr, just as it does to this day.

Mantiqa al-Sirra
This site, located in the dunes to the east of Madinat Zayed in the interior of Abu Dhabi, includes the remains of a rectangular mudbrick enclosure, c. 46 x 80 m, with a 12 metres square tower in the northeast corner. The walls of the building are preserved to a height of about one metre and gun ports are still visible. Within living memory two cannons still stood at the fortress, although these have now been removed to Liwa. Late Islamic pottery can be found on the surface of the site.

Although it is far from certain, the fortress at Mantiqa al-Sirra may be the one mentioned in the History of the Imams and Seyyids of Oman as the fort of Ezh-Zhafrah where, in 1633, Nasir bin Qahtan Al Hilali, an opponent of the Ya'aruba Imam of Oman, Nasr bin Murshid, joined forces with members of the Bani Yas.

Mowaihat
The site of Mowaihat is located on the oustkirts of Ajman. In 1986, while laying a new sewage pipe, workers from the Municipality discovered a circular Umm al-Nar-type tomb, c. 8.25 m in diameter. A rescue excavation was conducted which recovered numerous examples of soft-stone and painted Umm al-Nar ceramic vessels, as well as over 3000 beads, two stamp seals, a number of copper implements, and the skeletal remains of several dozen individuals. At the time of its discovery, the Mowaihat tomb represented the first indication of Umm al-Nar period occupation in the Northern Emirates. Subsequent work has now identified major sites of this period on the Gulf coast at al-Sufouh, Tell Abraq and Shimal. The material from Mowaihat forms the bulk of the archaeological finds on display in the Ajman Museum.

Muweilah
This Iron Age village is located in the sandy belt of Sharjah between the gravel plains of the interior of the UAE and the low-lying coast. It is just a few kilometres south of Sharjah International Airport and represents a mudbrick village of the sort found at al-Madam, Rumeilah, al-Thuqaibah and Qarn Bint Saud. Muweilah was brought to the attention of authorities at the Sharjah Archaeological Museum by a local inhabitant who picked up pottery at the site and has been excavated by an Australian team since 1995.

Muweilah is important because of the fact that fire destroyed what appears to be an extensive building complex, preserving a large quantity of artifacts in their original settting. Hundreds of grinding stones, some bearing microscopic traces of barley and wheat starch; extensive casting spillage from the manufacture of copper objects; and masses of pottery, give us a good picture of what life was like in an Iron Age village in the ancient Emirates. In addition, Muweilah has yielded the UAE's earliest example of writing, a piece of pottery with three letters - bml - which probably represents a Semitic name like Bimhal, Bamael or Abima'el. Based on a number of C14 dates, the settlement at Muweilah was probably founded c. 850-800 BC and destroyed by fire around 600 BC.

Mileiha
Located c. 20 km south of al-Dhaid and 50 km from the Sharjah coast, Mileiha is today a small village along the main north-south highway traversing the interior of the northern Emirates. On either side of the road, however, extending up to one kilometre away from the highway, lie the remains of an important settlement occupied during the later pre-Islamic era (c. third century BC - third century AD). The site was first investigated in the early 1970s by an Iraqi expedition, and then again in the 1980s and 1990s by a French team. Most recently, a local team from the Sharjah Archaeological Museum has been working at the site.

In spite of the large number of sites in the Emirates which date to the Iron Age (c. 1200-300 BC) Mileiha is virtually the only settlement known which dates to the immediately post-Iron Age period. The site consists of a large number of individual houses and craft areas where iron, bone, and stoneworking was carried out, interspersed with cemetery areas. In addition, directly under the highway is a small, square fort with rectangular corner towers which contained fragments of several coin moulds for the issues of a king named Abi'el.

Since coinage of this type was being made in the fort, it is likely that this represents the political centre of the ancient settlement. The tombs at Mileiha included large, 'tower tombs' consisting of a subterranean brick chamber surmounted by a tall, brick tower decorated with stepped stone decorative blocks. Most graves of this type were robbed in antiquity, but shallower, pit burials excavated by the Sharjah museum have been found to contain rich horse trappings. Both horse and camel burials have been excavated at Mileiha, the horses decorated with heavy gold medallions and roundels backed with iron.

Mileiha's occupation in the last centuries BC is demonstrated by a number of finds, including imported Attic black-glazed pottery from Greece; beehive-shaped, South Arabian alabaster jars with lion handles; and stamped Rhodian amphora handles. But there is also an abundance of later material comparable to that known at al-Dur which demonstrates that the site continued to be occupied at least into the first century AD.

Nud Ziba
Nud Ziba is the most substantial prehistoric mound in the area of Khatt, northern Ras al-Khaimah. Discovered in 1968, it has been visited repeatedly by archaeologists but never excavated, largely because of the fact that it is in the midst of agricultural fields and excavation would disturb the owner of the land on which the site is located. The main mound is about 85 m wide and stands c. 1.5-2 m above the surrounding plain. Late third and early second millennium ceramics, comparable to finds made at Tell Abraq, have been picked up from a section cut into by a bulldozer, along with a single socketed copper or bronze spearhead. Iron Age pottery is also known from the site. The bulldozer cut into Nud Ziba has exposed part of a mudbrick building with burnt floors. There is no doubt that excavation at the site would be very rewarding.

Qarn Bint Saud
This large rock outcrop measures some 800 x 200 m and stands c. 60 m tall. It is located c. 15 km to the north of the Al Ain oasis offers a fantastic view of the desert surrounding it. Like a scaled down Jebel Hafit, Qarn Bint Saud has always been visible from a distance and seems to have attracted the pre-modern inhabitants of the region in all periods. Graves of the type found at Jebel Hafit and Jebel Emalah, dating to c. 3000 BC, stand at the base of Qarn Bint Saud, while graves of the second millennium BC, contemporary with those at Qattarah and Ghalilah, stand on its flat-topped summit, as do graves of the 1st millennium contemporary with Awhala or Muweilah. Several kilometres west of Qarn Bint Saud, nestled in the dunes to the west of the rock outcrop, is a mudbrick village, inundated by sand, like the ones at Rumeilah, al-Madam and al-Thuqaibah.

Qattarah
In the early 1970s a Shimal-type long tomb was excavated by an Iraqi team at Qattarah, a neighbourhood in Al Ain in the interior of Abu Dhabi. The tomb at Qattarah was one of the very first tombs of 2nd millennium BC date excavated in the Emirates. The material from this excavation is stored and, to some extent, displayed in the Al Ain Museum. Among the most notable finds is a gold ornament consisting of a double-headed, single-bodied animal. Similar finds are known from the sites of Dhayah in northern Ras al-Khaimah and Bidya in northern Fujairah. These were probably worn as a large medallion in a necklace.

Rumeilah
Named after a district of Al Ain in the interior of Abu Dhabi, Rumeilah was the first Iron Age settlement excavated on a large scale in the United Arab Emirates. Work was conducted there between 1981 and 1983 by a French team from the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris. The site consists of a series of mudbrick buildings, some of which are so well preserved that their roofs are still intact. These had been literally buried by sand. They contained large quantities of pottery, grinding stones and metal tools, as well as stamp seals, beads and several pieces of bronze weaponry. Rumeilah was occupied between c. 1000 and 300 BC and is very similar in most respects to the contemporary Iron Age sites of al-Madam, al-Thuqaibah, Qarn Bint Saud and Hili 2.

Shams
The Semitic deity whose name means literally 'sun' is attested throughout the Arabian peninsula. In the Emirates an impressive temple to Shams was excavated at al-Dur by a Belgian team. The identification of the temple with this deity has been secured by the discovery of a limestone basin with a poorly preserved Aramaic inscription including the name Shams. In addition, coins found at Mileiha and al-Dur include several which bear the name Shams written in South Arabian letters, or with a simple monogram in the form of the initial letter shin, Sh-, generally taken as an abbreviation for the full name. This has raised the possibility that the seated figure of Zeus shown on the reverse of this coinage was assimilated by the local Arabian tribes with their own solar god Shams.

Shams occurs as a theophoric element in personal names all over the Arabian peninsula. Thus, it is interesting to note that a bronze bowl found by the French team at Mileiha has the name Mara’shams engraved on it in South Arabian letters. This strengthens the suggestion that Shams was one of the chief deities worshipped in the Emirates during the late pre-Islamic era.

Sharm
Sharm is the name of a village in northern Fujairah, located just off the main coastal highway to the south of Dibba. A second millennium BC tomb of Shimal type was discovered here by a Swiss expedition in 1987, and subsequently excavated by an Australian team in 1997. The tomb is 17.2 m long and 2.5 m wide. It most closely resembles the contemporary tombs at Qattarah, in the Al Ain oasis, and Shimal. Analysis of the human bone recovered shows that there were at least 71 individuals buried in the tomb at Sharm. The archaeological finds, however, range in date from the mid-second millennium BC to the first centuries AD, contemporary with al-Dur and Mileiha. Thus, it is likely that the skeletal remains represent an amalgam of persons buried over a period approaching some 2000 years. Dozens of soft-stone vessels and vessel fragments, as well as thousands of broken pieces of pottery (but no complete vessels), copper or bronze implements, and beads, were recovered in the tomb at Sharm. These are now stored in the Fujairah Museum, where some of them are on display.

Shimal
Shimal is the name of a Shihuh village nestled in the lee of the Hajar Mountains just north of Ra’s al-Khaimah city and south of Rams. It is also the site of several hundred pre-Islamic tombs and a settlement of mid-second to early first millennium BC date which was excavated in the mid-1980s by a team from the University of G?ttingen in Germany. Shimal is an important archaeological site for it was here that, for the first time, significant quantitites of pottery, soft-stone vessels, bronze or copper weaponry, and beads typical of the period c. 2000-1300 BC (the so-called 'Wadi Suq' period), were found in the Northern Emirates. The tombs at Shimal are all built of locally available stone. They are generally visible because their upper courses of stone usually protrude above the surface, even if several courses lie buried beneath alluvial gravel washed down from the mountains. Occasionally an ancient tomb may have been buried completely by such debris. This is true of a tomb of Umm al-Nar-type which was discovered accidentally during road works. The site has given its name to a type of long, narrow tomb with an entrance in one side. A small hill-top fort of the Islamic era, known as Husn al-Shimal, stands perched on a rock outcrop and affords a good view of the entire area.

Tell Abraq
This large settlement on the border of Umm al-Qaiwain and Sharjah was excavated by a team of Australian archaeologists between 1989 and 1998. It is dominated by a large fortification tower, 40 m in diameter, which dates to the late Umm al-Nar period. Ten metres to the west of it is a circular tomb, c. 6 m in diameter, in which the remains of nearly 350 individuals have been recovered. Settlement debris shows that occupation of the site was continuous from c. 2200 to 300 BC Located today several kilometres south of the shoreline, Tell Abraq was almost certainly a coastal site in antiquity, as suggested by the large embayment immediately to the north of the main mound which is today flooded by winter rains. Throughout its occupation Tell Abraq was very much in touch with the outside world, as artifacts originating in the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, Iran and Afghanistan attest. One of the most striking aspects of metals use at the site is the high incidence of tin-bronze found in all levels of occupation. The large mudbrick platform which capped the site c. 1300 BC is built of bricks which show the same dimensions as those used in brick platforms found at sites such as Nad-i Ali in Afghanistan and Tepe Yahya in southeastern Iran.

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