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The United Arab Emirates throughout the ages!

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Introduction

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) encompasses an area of more than 80,000 square kilometers and has a long coastline occupying most of the southern shores of the Arabian Gulf, as well as a stretch of coastline extending along the Gulf of Oman. The land of the U.A.E. especially the desert part of it, extends deep inland and reaches the north-eastern fringes of the so-called Empty Quarter or Rub AI-Khali. The interior part, which consists of series of oases formed as a result of alluvial soils from the Al Hajar Mountains, enjoys a higher level of ground water and fertile soil that helped in the establishment of ancient cultures. Despite the present dry climate there is evidence that the U.A.E. and the whole of Arabia enjoyed a better climate in the past. Palaeontological evidence from the Western region of Abu Dhabi Emirate, where fossilized bones of elephants, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, rhinos, turtles and other mammals, belonging to the Upper Miocene (6-8 million years ago), as well as the discovery of traces of ancient rivers, indicate that the landscape of Abu Dhabi was quite different in the past prior to the arrival of early human populations.

The first data on the archaeology and ancient history of the U.A.E. came from the investigations of a Danish team on the island of Umm an-Nar in 1959. The Danish team which was at that time carrying out archaeological excavations in other parts of the Gulf extended their investigations to the eastern region of Abu Dhabi. Since then, local, Arab and foreign teams have carried out work in different areas in the UAE, adding to the list of known archaeological sites and improving our knowledge of previously unknown periods.

The Stone Age

Until comparatively recently very little was known about the Stone Age in the U.A.E. During the past few years more information has been gathered concerning the Neolithic (Late Stone Age). The most recent explorations carried out in the interior of the Emirate of Sharjah, however, have revealed an interesting collection of stone tools that may have been used by man during the Middle Paleolithic (Middle Old Stone Age), i.e. tens of thousands years ago. The collection of tools which have been discovered in the Jebel Faya area are still under study and may provide other significant information about this early period.

In contrast to the sparse information available concerning the Middle Paleolithic, the Neolithic period in the U.A.E. is very well documented. During the Neolithic, the climate was wetter than today and as a result a number of settlements have been discovered in several places along the coastline of the Emirates as well as in the interior. Around these settlements, which mostly were semi-permanent or seasonal, the ancient communities practiced their daily life. On the islands and close to the coasts they were largely fishermen and hunters, only small scale husbandry being carried out, whereas inland they mostly practiced a nomadic lifestyle with their domestic herds. The remains left behind of these communities, which lived on some of the islands of Abu Dhabi as well as in the interior oases, are stone tools dominated by arrowheads, scrapers, knives and borers. Amongst the significant finds are large quantities of beads and other decorative items made of stone, shell and pearl.

Radiocarbon dating from Marawah in Abu Dhabi shows that the island was inhabited by the mid sixth millennium BC. A structure representing the earliest architectural evidence from the Emirates has been uncovered. This date, as well as other archaeological finds from the site including a remarkably complete Ubaid pottery vessel, indicates that the Emirates have at least seven thousand five hundred years of history.

At Dalma island, where a Neolithic settlement (late 6th to early 5th mill. BC) was discovered, a number of postholes were unearthed indicating that people were living in houses built of palm fronds. Houses like these were still in use some decades ago. Discoveries made at Dalma include stone artefacts and beads in addition to fragments of Ubaid pottery imported from Mesopotamia some seven thousand years ago.

Another important Neolithic site is Buhais 18 in Sharjah, located in the interior between the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. At this site a large cemetery and traces of a settlement have been excavated. According to the excavators, the inhabitants of the site are thought to have been mobile herders who used this particular spot as a central place for their activities during the springtime. The most prominent objects discovered with the dead of the Buhais cemetery are necklaces, pendants and different types of beads. The site yielded the largest known collection of beads made of perforated pearls. Animal bones and stone artifacts were also discovered in the settlement area of the site.

At Umm Al Quwain an interesting site was discovered and partly excavated on the island of Akab, opposite the building of the Diwan. This site yielded a large quantity of dugong (sea cow) bones that lead the excavators to interpret the site as being a butchery site for this marine animal. Tubular beads and other decorative objects, as well as flint objects dating to the fifth and possibly fourth millennium BC, were discovered.

Stone Age sites have also been recorded near Al Hamra Island to the south of Ras Al Khaimah. Potsherds of Al Ubaid type pottery and stone artifacts as well as beads and net weights were discovered at several different localities. The most common type of Neolithic sites however is shell middens. These are located along the coastline which extends for about 600 kilometers between Ras Al Khaimah and Sila. Mounds like these, though on a smaller scale, are also known along the UAE stretch of coastline on the Gulf of Oman, e.g. at Khatm Milaha, Kalba, Qurayyah, Uqqa and Dibba. Other Neolithic sites on the Arabian Gulf coastline include Hamriyah in Sharjah and Al Medar in Umm Al Quwain. Recent work has identified a number of important Neolithic sites in the area of Umm al Zumul in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Here dozens of localities have yielded large quantities of stone artifacts. Architectural evidence has also been discovered at one of these sites.

Bronze Age

Hafit Period (3200-2700 BC)

The end of the Late Stone Age or Neolithic period in the Emirates is marked by the beginning of the Bronze Age during the very late fourth millennium BC. This period known as the Hafit Period is named after Jebel Hafit, located in the eastern region of Abu Dhabi Emirate, where more than 500 stone cairns were discovered. Excavations of these cairns started in 1962 by the Danish expedition, who found that these cairns were above ground tombs each with a single chamber. Further excavations carried out by teams from the Department of Antiquities in Al Ain as well as the French expedition demonstrated that these tombs are all quite similar. Each consists of a single round or oval chamber built of locally mined stones. Unfortunately, due to later disturbance only a few finds were retrieved from the excavation of these tombs. Nevertheless, a small amount of pottery was discovered within the tombs, mostly vessels imported from Mesopotamia some 5000 years ago. Some of these vessels are decorated with geometrical and floral designs and belong to the pottery type known as Jemdet Nasri, named after the type site of Jemdet Nasr, which is located near to Babylon in modern day Iraq. The tombs also yielded a collection of beads of Mesopotamian origin. In addition to Hafit tombs, similar stone cairns have also been discovered at Bida Bint Saud and on the ridges located to the east of Hili across the border in the Sultanate of Oman.

Outside the eastern region of Abu Dhabi tombs presumably of the same date have been discovered in the area between Wum and Dhanha just to the west of Dibba in Fujairah Emirate. Although none of these tombs have been excavated their architecture and location suggest a similar date, this however would have to be confirmed by future excavations. In Ras Al Khaimah similar cairns have been recently discovered on mountain ridges near Khatt and Qarn al Harf. A small number of similar tombs were excavated at Jebel Al Umailih to the south of Mleiha in Sharjah Emirate. Some of the stone cairns located at the slopes of Jebel Buhais and Jebel Faya in Sharjah are claimed to also be of a similar date.

It should be noted that the architecture of Hafit tombs is a local feature, while most of the objects discovered within the tombs are of Mesopotamian origin indicating the presence of long distance trade. Settlement sites associated to Hafit tombs have not yet been discovered.

Umm an Nar Period (2700-2000 BC)

This period which covers almost three quarters of the third millennium BC (2700-2000 BC) is named after the Island of Umm an Nar, a small island located near Abu Dhabi. Excavations on the island were started by a Danish team in 1959, further archaeological investigations being subsequently carried out by Iraqi and local teams. Since this earlier work, the term Umm an Nari has been used to describe the culture of the community which lived during this period. In spite of other sites of similar date being identified since these earlier discoveries, the island of Umm an Nar remains the most important and interesting focal site of a culture which thrived in the region around 45 centuries ago. Today, the term is widely used by Gulf archaeologists to describe not only the culture identified at the island itself but also the other cultures discovered elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf which have similar features.

The archaeological area of the island of Umm an Nar consists of a settlement site and a cemetery of 50 above ground tombs. These tombs are different in shape and can be classified into three different types:

1- Multi-chamber circular tombs built of dressed stones.
2- Multi-chamber circular tombs built of rough stones.
3- Single chamber tombs built of rough stones.

Tombs from the Umm an Nar period are known in many places in the U.A.E., such as at Hili (AI Ain), Mleiha and Buhais (Sharjah), Shimal, Munaie and Asimah (Ras Al Khaimah), Mowaihat (Ajman), Sufouh and Hatta (Dubai). Amongst these, the Hili tombs remain the most elaborate and largest Bronze Age complex in the region.

Settlement sites belonging to the same period have been discovered in the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate, namely the sites of Hili 1, 8 and 10. A settlement comprising a large round building with thick stone wall was discovered at al Bidya village north of Fujairah. Another larger tower was partly excavated at Tell Abraq, a site located on the border between Sharjah and Umm al Quwain. A similar tower building of the same date was discovered and excavated at Kalba on the East Coast. Seasonal sites from the Umm an Nar period have also been discovered in several parts of the UAE; of particular note is the one on Ghanadah Island northeast of Abu Dhabi. The latter was the first site from the Umm an Nar period to have been discovered outside the axis of Umm an Nar – Hili.

At Hili, the occupation of the Umm an Nar period community lasted at least one thousand years with- out interruption. The people were farmers and traders and they were also engaged in the copper industry. Groundwater was high at that time and due to the availability of clay they built their houses of sun-dried mud bricks, unlike their burials which were built of hard stones. The most well known tomb of the period is the Hili Grand Tomb, the one standing in the middle of Hili Archaeological Park. It is around 12 meters in diameter and is built of colossal stones mined from a near-by mountain ridge. Originally, it was around 4 meters or so in height with two entrances, each decorated with drawings carved on the rocks besides the entrances. Close to Hili Grand Tomb there is another tomb designated as Tomb N. Unlike the other circular tombs this burial is subterranean and was built just outside Tomb E, an above-ground tomb. It was in actual fact built only 2 feet away from the ring wall of Tomb E. From the architectural point of view, Tomb N is very simple but it is very rich in finds, as hundreds of pottery vessels were uncovered together with a number of stone vessels and a large collection of beads. Tomb N has been dated to the last two centuries of the 3rd millennium BC. According to the osteological evidence more than 600 dead were buried in this grave. Adult males and female as well as children of different ages were buried together. Tomb N is of great significance amongst Umm an Nar period burials and the site only has one parallel in the al Mowaihat region in Ajman. At Mowaihat a circular above-ground tomb and an adjacent subterranean burial were excavated by the Department of Antiquities in Al Ain in 1986 when no Umm an Nar tombs were known outside of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Apart from the tombs located inside the Hili Archaeological Park there are further examples of Umm an Nar tombs built outside, between and on the edge of their settlements, which cover quite an extensive area. The extensive presence of tombs and settlements belonging to the Umm an Nar culture in the Eastern region of Abu Dhabi indicates that the region played a major role in communications between the coast and the interior. High groundwater level, good soil and the need for copper mining in the adjacent Oman had helped the establishment of permanent settlements. The distribution of these settlements in the interior and along the coastal areas led to an interaction within the different communities of the U.A.E. and with the other civilizations at the time such as Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.

Wadi Suq Period

The culture of the communities that lived in the U.A.E. and Oman between 2000 and 1300 BC is known among archaeologists as the Wadi Suq Culture. It takes its name from Wadi Suq, which is located west of Sohar in the Sultanate of Oman, where the first evidence of this culture was discovered. Though mostly plundered, large groups of graves yielding various types of stone vessels and some pottery were discovered on the ridges overlooking the wadi by the Danes. These graves were dated according to their contents to the first half of the 2nd millennium BC. People of the U AE and Oman stopped building elaborate circular tombs that was a tradition during the Umm an Nar period. During the Wadi Suq period, the circular tombs were replaced by mainly narrow and long graves without interior divisions and usually accessed by an entrance built into one of the two long walls. In the U.A.E. this 2nd millennium culture is represented in a number of settlements and graves. The first site of this period to be discovered is a grave, which is around 14 meters long, unearthed at Qattara in the city of Al Ain in 1973. Some of the sugar lump outer facing stones of the Umm an Nar tombs were randomly re-used in this grave. Excavations at the tomb led to the discovery of large quantities of objects including stone vessels, a few pottery vessels and large collections of bronze weapons and beads. The most interesting objects discovered are pendants made of electrum (mixture of gold and silver) in the shape of animals. Similar pendants were found in other graves of the period at Bidya and Dhaya. It should be also noted that the Shimal complex in Ras Al Khaimah is the most important site of the culture as it has several graves and the remains of a settlement of the same date.

The Wadi Suq period in the U.A.E., which used to be considered as a gap in the history of Southeast Arabia, has revealed itself through a number of sites discovered during the last two decades. For instance, three smaller graves dating to the same period were discovered at Hili North. Earlier a large cemetery of both Wadi Suq and Iron Age graves was discovered at Al Qusais in Dubai. These graves in addition to the 2nd mill BC pottery known from the same area indicate that a settlement site must have existed in the vicinity of the cemetery.

In addition to the above-mentioned sites there are others in Ras Al Khaimah, such as those of Ghalila, Dhaya, Shimal and Qarn al Harf. Along the East Coast some Wadi Suq graves have been discovered at Al Bidya, Sharm and Dibba. Site 1 at Bidya is of special interest as it is the longest grave ever to be discovered in the UAE (30m long). It had a concealed narrow chamber that was built underneath the floor pavement. Unfortunately, most of these graves suffered heavy disturbance, nevertheless, the excavators managed to identify the remains of 140 dead from one of the Shimal graves.

It should be noted that apart from the long graves there are several other types of Wadi Suq burials. Among several others there is a type which is built in a shape of horseshoe with an entrance on the curved side. Graves like these are known at Wadi Al Qawr, Qidfa, Muraished and Buhais. The latter revealed large number of Wadi Suq graves containing pottery and stone vessels together with many other objects. We should also mention that 2nd millennium BC graves are also known from Kalba together with fortifications of the same date added to the Umm an Nar settlement site mentioned earlier. Another type of Wadi Suq graves are T -shaped burials. One was excavated at Dhaya by a German team and another example at Bithna by a Swiss team.

The explorations carried out at Khor Fakkan by Sharjah museum led to the discovery of a number of I graves and houses on the mountain ridge overlooking the harbor. The inhabitants of this site seem to have been predominantly fishermen.

The Wadi Suq graves discovered in Asimah, together with more ancient graves from the Umm an Nar period provides further evidence that the area was continuously inhabited for many centuries.

Generally speaking, despite the sparse number of settlements known from the Wadi Suq period, which some scholars attribute to factors such as climatic change and/or other economic reasons, the number of graves discovered indicates that fairly large groups of people were living along the coasts, in the wadis and in the oases, especially in the Northern Emirates.

Iron Age

Archaeological sites belonging to the Iron Age covering a period between 1300 and 300 BC have been found all over the regions in the United Arab Emirates. It seems that the existence of quite large villages from the Iron Age, especially along the western foothills of the Al Hajar Mountains, is owed to the introduction of the falaj. This kind of irrigation system have been attested at Hili through the excavations at Hili 15 and considered the most ancient known in the world so far. Unlike what was thought about its origin, the excavators believe that this system, which consists of underground channels tap- ping water from quite a distance, was originally introduced into this part of Arabia and spread out into Iran. According to the new discoveries made at several Iron Age sites that were irrigated by aflaj, the Iranian origin of the system has been recently disputed.

On the basis of the Archaeological investigations and research carried out in the region, the Iron Age can be divided into three Periods:

Period I (1300-100 BC).
Period II (1100-600 BC).
Period III (600-300 BC).

Rumaila in the City of Al Ain is the most ancient village from the Iron Age although most of its upper buildings belong to the second period. Like most of the other Iron Age sites, the houses at Rumaila were covered with drifted sand and protected shortly after it was abandoned. There is evidence that in addition to cultivation the inhabitants of this village were also engaged in the copper industry. Iron objects discovered here are rare.

Hili 2 is another substantial village from the Iron Age where several houses built of sun dried mud bricks were uncovered. Some walls were found preserved up to the roof level. Large number of storage jars of different size was found inside these houses and out. At Bida bint Saud to the north of Hili another Iron Age site with a cemetery built on top of an outcrop was first excavated. A near-by public building and an adjacent falaj from the same date have also been investigated.

Muwaileh in Sharjah is another important site from the Iron Age. Several units including a public building mostly destroyed by fire were discovered. At the latter, a large collection of iron, though mostly scraps were discovered. A portion of large storage jars bearing three signs of South Arabian writing is of much interest.

At Thuqaiba in Al Madam where the plain is similar to that of Hili traces of Iron Age villages were also discovered. An ancient falaj which might be of similar date was partly excavated.

One of the architectural features during the Iron Age Period is the establishment of forts which controlled the wadis in the mountainous areas. Among these forts: Husn Wadi Madhab, Awhala, Bithna and Wadi Al Qawr.

It should be noted that the recent discoveries at Bithna in Fujairah brought to light a sanctuary with a large number of incense burners and pottery vessels decorated with snakes. This collection of complete and fragmented vessels is the largest ever discovered after that uncovered at the Mound of Serpents at al Qusais.

Hellenistic period

This refers to the period that witnessed the assimilation of Western Greek Civilization into Eastern Civilization, a development which coincided with the conquest of the Middle East by Alexander the Great towards the end of the 4th century B.C. The successors of Alexander the Great had failed to extend their power and domination to the Arabian Peninsula. A number of important sites are however known from this civilization in the U.A.E, such as Mleiha and ed-Dur. There are also archaeological remains from the same period known from Dibba AI-Husn as well as elsewhere in the V.A.E. This is probably because the successors of Alexander the Great preserved their domination over the sea trade routes to India until the 2nd century B.C. before they were expelled by the founder of the Parthian Empire at about 140 B.C.

Mleiha Site

This site is located about 50 km east of Sharjah, and is a large settlement that depended economically on agriculture and trade. Evidence suggests that it was occupied from the 3rd century B.C. until around the 3rd century A.D., spanning two phases: before and after the birth of Christ. It is to this latter second phase that the site of ed-Dur belongs. The excavations carried out at Mleiha have revealed the existence of a large settlement comprising houses, workshops and memorial burials. One of the most notable discoveries of this site is a large multi-roomed building (measuring 55 x 50 m) referred to as AI-Husn, which was probably an administrative centre. An important discovery relating to this building is one side of a coin-minting mould, which provides clear evidence that the minting of coins was practiced at Mleiha.

Mleiha traded with the Greeks, a fact demonstrated by the existence of amphora jars and handles which still carry the mark of their makers. These have been identified as belonging to the island of Rhodes in the east of the Mediterranean Sea dating to the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. This provides the first proof of the practice and exchange of trade between the present UAE region and the Greek world via Mesopotamia and Syria. One of the other important discoveries made at Mleiha by the local excavation team in 1994 was a cemetery consisting of 26 graves, of which 12 were reserved for burying camels. In one of the graves the two skeletons of a camel and a horse were found. It appears that the horse was buried with all of its gold-studded harnesses. Several other tombs previously excavated by the Iraqi and French missions have also yielded a number of different objects.

Amongst the other archaeological discoveries made at Mleiha are a small number of very important inscriptions of South Arabian origin. The discovery of other Aramaic writing dating back to the 2nd century B.C. points to the building of a memorial burial ground at Muki. Based on this evidence, it is possible that the Mleiha area was already known by that name at that time.

Ed-Dur Site

In the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain there is a large settlement site located on its coastline. This site was partly excavated by the Iraqi Archaeological Mission in 1974 for the duration of one season. European missions from Belgium, Denmark, Britain and France have also carried out excavations there for some years starting from 1987. It is now clear that this was the largest settlement on the southern shores of the Arabian Gulf representing the second phase of the Hellenistic Period in the U.A.E. Excavations here led to the discovery of a square fort, houses and a large number of graves, all built of locally mined stone. One of the most important features of this site is the temple which was discovered by the Belgium team. Outside the temple three alters and a stone carrying Aramaic writing were discovered. Although the writing is difficult to decipher, it was possible to identify the solar deity Shams (Shamash) on it.

Dibba Al Husn Site

The Department of Antiquities in Sharjah has recently discovered a burial at Dibba Al-Husn, located on the East Coast of the Emirate. The archaeological finds coming from this burial, as well as, those discovered at various sites on the east coast, testify to the existence of a civilization which dates back to the Hellenistic Period. Many objects of glazed pottery, imported glass utensils, jewelry and two nicely decorated combs made of ivory all dating to the 1st Century AD were discovered in this burial. The decorations on the comb represent human and floral motifs.

It is worth mentioning that large collections of finds belonging to the Hellenistic Period were also discovered in older burials dating to the Wadi Suq and Iron Age periods. These old burials, discovered in different parts of the U.A.E, had been reused during the above-mentioned periods. Regarding the size of the Hellenistic objects discovered the Fujairah group is considered to be the largest. The burials at Bidya, Dibba, Bithna, and Husn al Madhab also yielded very interesting collections. This is in addition to the burials of Shimal, Asimah, Wadi Al-Maneei in Ras Al-Khaimah as well as Khor Fakkan and Kalba in Sharjah.

Islamic Period

Not much is known about the period following the Hellenistic age or that preceding the advent of Islam. With the exception of the site of Kush in the Shimal area of Ras Al-Khaimah, where the British mission carried out some excavations, there is scarcity of remains belonging to the Sasanian Period. The Sasanian finds discovered largely consist of glazed pottery which seems to be mainly restricted to the coastal areas of the Northern Emirates. Archaeological excavations have revealed that the Kush site includes buildings erected around the 6th Century AD. It is known that the region witnessed dangerous events during the century that followed.

It is a known fact that the people of the U.A.E. and Oman were amongst the first converts to Islam at an early stage and that their conversion was voluntary. Despite the absence of archaeological sites dating back to the first era of Islam, information is recorded in the writings of historians about the town of Dibba, north of Fujairah, which witnessed some of the battles of the apostasy war in the aftermath of the death of the Prophet (May peace and the blessing of Allah be upon him). Archaeological evidence indicates that the site of Kush has remains belonging to the beginning of Islam in the U .A.E, and the excavators considered it to be the actual site of the famous historical town of Julfar.

The remains of the Jumeira site in Dubai and its architectural traces indicate a substantial role for this site during the first phase of Islam. It represents the remains of an Islamic town with a large population from the Abbasid, or probably the Umayyad Period, which controlled trade routes at the time.

Although no permanent settlements from the beginning of Islam have been so far discovered within the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate, the discovery of a Falaj from that period, together with an adjacent Mosque dating to a later phase of that Falaj is of some significance. This can be interpreted as evidence that a settlement site from the end of the Umayyad Period or the beginning of the Abbasid State was in existence near that place and depended on it for its water supply.

One of the other important Islamic sites in the U.A.E. is the settlement of Julfar in Ras Al Khaimah. This was widely known for its commercial and trading reputation at the beginning of the 14th century AD. The first archaeological excavations at the site were undertaken by the Iraqi Archaeological Mission in 1973. Sites were excavated at both Al-Darbahania and Al-Mataf, both parts of old Julfar. Later on, missions from Japan, Britain, France and Germany discovered further remains, the oldest of which dated back to the 13th century AD. One of the most notable of these discoveries were a group of mosques built one over the other in view of the need for renewal and re-building. Ancient Julfar (which dates back to the first phase of Islam) was recently determined by another British team to have been located at the site of Kush in the Shimal area. This was after it was proved that Hulayla Island, near Rams to the north of Ras Al-Khaimah, was not the original site of ancient Julfar as was previously thought. It is to be remembered that Julfar was the hometown of Ahmed Bin Majid, the sailor, and the well-known poet Ahmed Bin Dhahir. The Portuguese, in the writing of the sailor Duarte Barbosa, had described in 1517 the people of Julfar as being wealthy, great sailors, wholesale traders and that its gulf had a plentiful supply of fish and large and small pearls. Excavations in the ruins of ancient Julfar led to the discovery of many fragments of porcelain and celadon imported from China and other parts of East Asia, which proves the existence of extensive maritime trade.

The period stretching from the 14th to the 16th century AD is characterized by the existence of many sites where the discovery of complete and fragmented pottery vessels makes it possible to determine their date. During the 17th and 18th centuries a new architectural style appeared which became popular until recent decades. This period is known as that of the Late Islamic, and during this time fortified buildings were scattered in the mountainous area of the U .A.E, especially in places previously used as military posts. Two examples will suffice. The first is Awhala Fort in Fujairah, and the second is a fort (or castle) at Rafaq in the Wadi Al-Qawr in the southern part of the Emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah. In these two areas fragments of pottery dating to the Late Islamic Period were discovered, and it transpires that both these sites were built on the ruins of more ancient castles dating back to the Iron Age.

The remains of an Islamic village were excavated at Qidfa in 1975 by an Iraqi team, who dated it to the 16th century AD. In addition to this Late Islamic settlement, several Islamic villages are known scattered throughout the Emirate of Fujairah.

The U.A.E has a large number of forts and towers built during the last few centuries of a type which is widely known throughout Southeast Arabia. One of these forts is Dhaya, located to the north of Ras Al- Khaimah, which the British attacked in 1820. Other forts are found in Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Sharjah, Dubai and Al Ain. The emirate of Fujairah is particularly rich in forts and castles; one of the most famous is Fujairah Fort, in the middle of old Fujairah village. This large fort is characterized by its unique architecture, and it has been dated as belonging to the middle of the 16th century. Other similar buildings in Fujairah emirate include Al-Bithna Fort, Awhala Fort, Al-Hayl Castle, Masafi Castle and Dibba Castle. This is in addition to the remains of the castle believed to be part of the fort built by the Portuguese in the village of Al-Bidya.

The coastal towns of Khor Fakkan and Kalba located in Sharjah Emirate on the East coast of the U .A.E. are known from a number of ancient sources times. Archaeological surveys and excavations demonstrate that these towns date back to the 11th century AD and that they continued to prosper during the 15th century AD. It should be pointed out here that the recent discovery of Chinese pottery pieces dating back to the 13th century AD from the town of Dibba Al-Husn in Sharjah Emirate is of some note.

One of the important Islamic monuments in the U.A.E. is the Al-Bidya mosque, the oldest of all mosques currently in use in the country. It is characterized by its architectural plan and four domes. Radiocarbon dating has established that the construction of Al-Bidya mosque took place during the 16th century AD. Other ancient mosques were also discovered at Julfar by the British mission, as earlier indicated, the oldest of which belonged to the 8th century after Hijra (14th century AD). These mosques were built on top of each other, an indication of a long and continued use of this area for that purpose. Another archaeological mosque in the U.A.E is the one located next to the early Islamic falaj in Al Ain, which was discovered in the middle of the city, as previously mentioned.


Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan