Bulletin 01 March 1977: Archaeology in the UAE
Archaeology in the UAE

Archaeology in the UAE

by David Corfield

The United Arab Emirates is full of potential for the Archaeologist, because unlike Europe and other places in the Middle East, very little actual field work has been carried out here. There must be many sites yet to discover; some possibly not far from Abu Dhabi.

A book that gives a very good insight into this region is “Looking for Dilmun” by Geoffrey Bibby. Although it is centered on Bahrain (Dilmun), he also describes the work carried out by a team of archaeologists on the sites at Umm an Nar, Hili and on Jebel Hafit. The book shows that there was a possible link between the ancient Sumerians from Mesopotamia through Dilmun to Umm an Nar, and then possibly on into the hinterland. There is also a possibility of some form of early civilization coming from Oman via copper trading.

The museum at Al Ain is well worth a visit to see the types of artifacts that have been found in this area. Two further museums to be seen are at Dubai and Fujairah.

Apart from the sites mentioned above, discoveries have also been made at the following places: Mileiha in Sharjah; Quattarah (Golden Bull fame) near Hili; Bint Saud near Al Ain; Ras al Khaimah; and Dibba, a port on the Gulf of Oman.

How can the reader help in the continuing discovery of sites? Things to look out for are worked flints i.e. arrow heads, blades etc., and even flakes or cores (see sketches); pottery sherds, especially rims and bases; mounds in flat areas that contain oyster shells; worked stone or mud blocks; bronze spear heads etc.; in fact, anything that looks old is worth noting.

If any of the above are found when you are out on a trip, try to locate the spot as accurately as possible, so that you can return to it again at a later date.

If you find plenty of surface artifacts, bring a few back as a selective sample, so that they may be looked at by a trained archaeologist. Do not collect everything in sight or start digging. This can destroy a site, and any chance of a major discovery may be lost forever. Digging should only be carried out under the auspices and sanction of the UAE government.

Any finds notified to the Group will be recorded and even a single flint or pot sherd could lead to an overall pattern; so don’t throw anything away that you find; just bring it along to a meeting, or contact any of the committee members.

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