Archaelogical sites in Abu Dhabi

Ayn al-Faydah is the name given to an location of fossil lakebed sediments located on the alluvial plain to the northwest of Jebel Hafit in the interior of Abu Dhabi.

These sediments, c. 3.5 m thick, shows the remains of a lake which was fed by the seasonal flooding of wadis on the west of the Jebel Hafit. Freshwater snails from several 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 in Abu Dhabi.

Dalma
Dalma is one of the most important islands off the west coast of Abu Dhabi. The island sits some 80 km east of the Qatar peninsula, and measures 45sq km, rising to a maximum elevation of 98 m above sea-level. Dalma today has a population of around 5000 people and it is volcanic island. In the late nineteenth century Dalma was the only island on the Great Pearl Bank with a permanent population around the year. More than 20 historic archaeological sites have been found on the Dalma, ranging from the late prehistoric era to an early twentieth century mosque (Sa’id Jum’a al-Qubaysi).

Dalma’s main prehistoric site is located on the Abu Dhabi Women’s Federation enclosure, and has yielded some of Abu Dhabi’s earliest evidence of date palm cultivation, pottery. The vast majority of the Dalma’s archaeological sites dates back to the last few centuries of the Islamic era.

Jebel Hafit
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, Jebel Hafit would have been just as prominent for the region’s prehistoric population. Many graves dating to around 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. Several 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 historical graves at Jebel Hafit have been robbed in antiquity many years back, but those excavated by successive Arabian and European 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 Abu Dhabi.

Mantiqa al-Sirra

The Mantiqa al-Sirra archaelogical site is located in the dunes to the east of Madinat Zayed at the interior of Abu Dhabi and includes the remains of a rectangular mudbrick enclosure with a seize of around 46×80 meters and 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 can still been seen. 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 not certain, the Fortress at Mantiqa al-Sirra may be the one mentioned in the History of the Imams and Seyyids of Oman as the Ezh-Zhafrah Fort 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 tribe.

Qattarah
In the early 70’s a Shimal-type long tomb was excavated by an archaelogical team of Iraq at Qattarah which is a neighbourhood in Al Ain in Abu Dhabi. The tomb at Qattarah was one of the very first tombs of 2nd millennium BC date excavated in Abu Dhabi. The material from this excavation is stored and, to some extent, can be found in the Al Ain Museum. Among the most notable treassure 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 Abu Dhabi. Work was conducted there between 1981 and 1983 by a French team from the National Scientific Research Center of Paris. The archaelogical 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 potteries, grinding stones and metal tools, as well as stamp seals, beads and several pieces of bronze weaponry. Rumeilah was occupied between ca 1000 and 300 BC and is very similar to the contemporary Iron Age archaelogical site of al-Madam, al-Thuqaibah, Qarn Bint Saud and Hili 2.

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