First Published: 2011-04-17

 

ADACH publishes monographic book on Umm an-Nar

 

'Archaeology of Umm an-Nar Island 1959-2009' discusses sites dating back to third millennium BC.

 

Middle East Online

By Dr Walid Yasin Al Tikriti

ABU DHABI – The Historic Environment Department of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage has published a monographic book that summaries and discusses the current state of the sites on the Umm an-Nar Island, which must have lived at least three centuries (2600-2300 BC).

The book entitled “Archaeology of Umm an-Nar Island 1959-2009” is written by Dr Walid Yasin Al Tikriti, head of the archaeology at ADACH.

The Umm an-Nar culture, as indicated from inland 3rd millennium BC, covers no more than seven centuries (2700-2000 BC). The book gives a comprehensive overview of this small island located on the southeast of the much larger island Abu Dhabi and it is one of the 200 islands that dominates the coast of Abu Dhabi.

With figures and sketches, the book follows the history of investigations on the site, as the first archaeological excavations in Abu Dhabi began at Umm an-Nar in 1959, twelve years before the foundation of the United Arab Emirates. Seven tombs out of fifty and three areas at the ruins of the ancient settlement were examined by the Danish Archaeological Expedition. During their first visit they identified a few exposed shaped stones fitted together at some of the stone mounds. The following year (February 1959) the first excavations started at one of the mounds on the plateau, now called Tomb I. Two more seasons (1960 and 1961) were carried out digging more tombs, while the last three seasons (1962/1963, 1964 and 1965) were allocated to examine the settlement.

The Danish excavations on Umm an-Nar halted in 1965 but were resumed in 1975 by an archaeological team from Iraq. During the Iraqi excavations which lasted one season, five tombs were excavated and a small section of the village was examined. To meet the requirements of the writer’s Ph.D thesis and to answer some of the pending questions, the author carried out limited excavations at the settlement, uncovering a number of rooms in the space between the Danish and Iraqi excavations. And between 1970 and 1972 an Iraqi restoration team headed by Shah Al Siwani, former member of the Antiquities Director in Baghdad, restored and /or reconstructed the Danish excavated tombs.

The United Arab Emirates and southeast Arabia in general remained archeologically speaking terra incognita until fifty years ago. Explorations in grater Arabia started in the nineteenth century when European travelers first became involved in the region. While archeological investigations in the Bahrain go back to the nineteenth century, and to the first half of the twentieth century in Eastern Arabia, Abu Dhabi remained unexplored until recent times. Indeed, nothing was known about the archaeology of Southeast Arabia which includes the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman before the investigations of the Danish expedition which worked at Umm an-Nar in the late 1950s.

The Danish explorations were extended to cover the interior of Abu Dhabi in the early 1960’s. These explorations which were followed by investigations by local teams, together with those carried out since 1973 by other foreign expeditions in the UAE and Oman, from the present framework for the archaeology of the region. These investigations have reveled archaeological remains of different periods, interrupted by inevitable gaps which result from the nature of the archaeological sites themselves. These Southeast Arabian sites are concentrated in the oases, coastal areas and in the wadis along the obvious trade routes.

The most ancient period represented so far in Abu Dhabi Emirate is the Middle Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) which has been recently identified at Jebel Barakah in the western region. The first diagnostic stone artifacts discovered there by the author in 2006 indicate that the site belongs to the early phase of that period (150000-20000 years ago). Nothing has been discovered so far from the long gap between that remote period and the Neolithic (New Stone Age) which stated around eight thousand years ago. By the end of the fourth millennium BC, a few centuries after the invention of first writing in Mesopotamis, the Bronze Age started in Abu Dhabi and the whole of Southeast Arabia. This age covers the whole of the third and most of the second millennium BC and divided into three main phases (Early, Middle and Late). The early phase is represented by hundreds of beehive stone tombs yielding pottery vessels of Mesopotamian origin. The middle phase comprises two cultures (Umm an-Nar and Wadi Suq Cultures)

The Wadi Suq Culture (2000-1600 BC) which inherited the sophisticated culture of Umm an-Nar witnessed a decline, while the poorly represented last phase of the Bronze Age (1600-1300 BC) has only been vaguely identified in a small number of settlements. This last phase of the Bronze Age was followed by a boom when the underground irrigation system (the falaj) was introduced during the Iron Age (1300-300 BC) by the local communities.

The book is available in English and is being sold in main UAE libraries and bookshops.

 

UN envoy in Moscow to save Syrian truce

UN envoy seeks to restart Yemen peace talks

Iraq reform process in limbo after Green Zone storming

US soldier feared killed in Iraq’s Kurdistan

Saudi Minister 'not satisfied' with level of female employment

OPCW warns ISIS may be making chemical weapons

French court says 'Carlos the Jackal' must face trial for 1974 attack

UN demands protection of hospitals in armed conflicts

Jewish settler who led burning alive of Palestinian teen receives life sentence

Italy ready to raise shipwreck off Libya coast

Heavy airstrikes kill dozens in ISIS Syria bastion

Deadly intra-rebel clashes rock eastern part of Syria capital

German 'jihadist' goes on trial for Syria war crimes

Number of people held in solitary confinement doubles in Israel

UN fears operation near Mosul will displace 30,000 more Iraqis

Turkey Nobel Laureate shows solidarity with veteran writer, Murat Belge

Russian FM hopes for Aleppo ceasefire in 'next few hours'

Israel Labour mulls break with British party over anti-Semitism claims

Saudi to ensure Binladin Group resolves wage issues

Tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims flock to Baghdad shrine

EU set to grant Turkey visa-free travel in migrant deal

Syria rebels strike hospital in regime-held Aleppo

Israel destroys home of Palestinian suspect's family

Saudi women to get copy of marriage contracts

EU praises Turkey efforts to meet criteria for visa deal

Sudan claims 'sovereign rights' in dispute with Egypt

Amnesty denounces ‘shocking’ conditions in Iraq detention centre

Carnage in Iraq as deadly car bomb targets Shiite pilgrims

PKK attack kills at least one soldier in southeast Turkey

Turkey pounds ISIS positions in Syria

Five years on, bin Laden doctor languishes in jail

Top Sudan court lifts ban on leading newspaper

Iran to grant citizenship to families of killed foreign recruits

Egypt journalists hold sit-in after police raid of press syndicate

US in desperate bid to salvage Syria ceasefire

Iraq protesters quit Green Zone after unprecedented breach

Up to 100 people missing in two Mediterranean shipwrecks

Aden police chief survives new assassination attempt

ISIS claims rare deadly bombings in southern Iraq

Tight security marks world rallies to celebrate Labour Day

Yemen government suspends 'direct' talks with rebels

Russia, US in bids to freeze fighting in Syria's Aleppo

Deadly car bomb hits Turkey refugee hub near Syria border

Iraq PM calls for punishment of protesters involved in violence

Yemen government forces seize Qaeda training camp