3rd Annual Symposium on Recent Archaeological Work in the Emirates

Organised by the Zayed Center for Heritage and History, Al Ain

Wednesday 6th - Thursday 7th April 2005

Location: Rotana Hotel, Al Ain

For further information contact:

Dr. Hasan M. Al-Naboodah
Zayed Center for Heritage and History
P.O. Box 23888
Al Ain
United Arab Emirates
Tel (office): +971 (0)3 7615166
Mobile: +971 (0)50 6422492
Fax : +971 (0)3 7615177
Email: naboodah@uaeu.ac.ae

Email: zc4hh@zayedcenter.org.ae
Web: www.zayedcenter.org.ae



16.30 - 17.30: Registration of Participants in the Rotana Hotel, Al Ain.

17.30: Opening Remarks

Dr. Hassan M. Al-Naboodah,
Director, Zayed Center for Heritage and History

17.45 - 20.30: FIRST SESSION

Chairman: Peter Hellyer

17.45 - 18.15:
Dr. Heiko Kallweit (ADIAS, Freiburg), Dr. Mark Beech (ADIAS) and Dr. Walid Yasin al Tikriti (Al Ain) -
Archaeology in Arabia's Deserts - Recent fieldwork at Khor Al Manahil, Abu Dhabi Emirate, UAE

Following on from the initial fieldwork in January/February 2004, a detailed record of flint surface scatters at Khor Al Manahil through use of a Total Station provides new information on the Neolithic occupation of inner Arabia.
The sites at Khor Al Manahil and Kharimat Khor Al Manahil in the southeastern-most desert of the UAE belong to the cultural complex of the Arabian Bifacial Tradition (ABT), dating to the time period 9000 - 6000 BP.
These detailed records will permit future research on spatial distribution, settlement pattern, geomorphology and palaeo-landscape reconstruction.
For the first time, this new method was applied to a large site comprising of many single flint surface scatters. This project provides an example of the possible development of new guidelines for recording and analysing surface flint artefacts.
Future plans include an enhanced degree of co-operation at a GCC-wide level, dating of dune-deposits and excavations on major flint concentrations and building structures.

18.15 - 18.45:
Dr. Margarethe Uerpmann, Prof. Hans-Peter Uerpmann, Marc Haendel & Johannes Schmidt (Univ. of Tubingen) -
Flint raw materials in the interior of the Northern Emirates - sources, exploitation and procurement.

Based on the knowledge accumulated by the surveys of the French Mission to Sharjah (1984-92), flint sources in the interior of Sharjah and along its eastern frontier with Ra's al-Khaimah and Oman were studied further in the context of the Joint al-Buhais Project (Directorate of Antiquities of Sharjah Emirate and Univ. of Tübingen, Germany). At many of the flint outcrops, traces of active mining could be observed. Fresh material was broken out of the rock directly. For cracking the limestone banks, fire seems to have been employed. At some of these 'factories' the flint of high quality was more or less completely exhausted in ancient times. While direct dating of the mining sites is still impossible, the occurrence of the respective raw materials at well dated and stratified sites - like BHS18 and the new site Faya-NE1 - give evidence for the use of particular flint sources during known periods of the Stone Age. In general, the local flint resources near these sites account for the vast majority of raw materials used there, but always there are some specimens, the origin of which can now be localised at distances between 15 km and 45 km from the studied sites.

18.45 - 19.15:
Gary Feulner (Dubai) -
Hafit cairns of the UAE and Oman - an archaeological travelogue

This travelogue of Hafit cairns - from the isthmus of the Musandam Peninsula to the flanks of Jebel Ja'alan - is intended to promote research interest, elicit additional information and provoke enlightened speculation about the nature and origin of those structures. A preliminary database and map have been prepared for most known sites in the UAE and neighbouring Oman, and for selected sites throughout the Oman mountains generally. Slides illustrate the considerable variations in the architecture of what is generally considered a single class of remains, as well as aspects of distribution.

19.15 - 19.45:
Dr Sophie Méry (CNRS) and Dr Walid Yasin al-Tikriti (Al Ain) -
Results of the 7th season of excavation at Hili N pit-grave and a new study of the monumental circular graves at Hili by the Joint Emirati-French team

Excavations at Hili N pit-grave and a new study of the 12 monumental circular graves at Hili by a joint team of the Department of Antiquities and Tourism in Al Ain and FAMU (French Archaeological Mission in the U.A.E) have provided in January-February 2005 new information on the relative chronology of the Umm an-Nar period in the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate.
From the study of facing stones of Umm an-Nar tombs re-used at Hili 8 in settlement structures recovered in the 1980's by the French team, we have been able to demonstrate that there were at Hili at least 3 unknown tombs, either still to be located or completely destroyed.
The manufacture of the stones used in the building of the Hili tombs was documented and it was possible to determine a sequence according to the techniques used. The most elaborate monuments (such as Hili 1059) date to a recent phase of the Umm an-Nar period in the Eastern Region, but not the final one.
The deposits found at the bottom of the Hili N pit-grave date to this penultimate phase of the Early Bronze Age. Imported pottery and artefacts from the Indus valley, Makran and Afghanistan were mainly found in association with the basal level, together with elaborate local pottery. In the upper levels, the pottery and other types of local and imported artefacts show an evolution which is indicative of socio-economic change.

19.45 - 20.15: Coffee Break

20.15 - 21.45: SECOND SESSION

Chairman: Dr. Mark Beech

20.15 - 20.45:
Christian Velde (Ra's al-Khaimah) -
The Development of Tomb Architecture in the Wadi Suq period in Shimal, Ra's al-Khaimah

The cemetery in Shimal, one of the largest on the Oman peninsula, has a large variety of tomb types, which are very dissimilar and range from small subterranean burials for a single burial to huge megalithic surface structures used as collective tombs.
All these tombs were built in the Wadi Suq Period, dating between 2000 and 1600 BC. Recent studies of the material from the tombs and new insights into the architecture of the structures made it possible to understand the development of these tombs.
The lecture will describe the large variety of types, architectural differences and will give a general development of the tombs in the first half of the 2nd millennium BC.

20.45 - 21.15:
Prof. Helmut Brückner*, Dr. Anja Zander, Gary Feulner, Dr. Claudia Gruber, Dr. Henriette Manhart and Hussein Qandil -
The past in the future - Millennia-old beaches and ecosystems in Dubai Internet City

*Corresponding author: Faculty of Geography, University of Marburg, D-35032 Marburg; h.brueckner@staff.uni-marburg.de

The coastal plains of UAE along the Arabian Gulf host excellent geo-archives with abundant information concerning neotectonics, sedimentology, geochronology, climate and vegetation history as well as archaeology. The study of former ecosystems enabled us to reconstruct the natural coastal processes together with the history and the impact of Man during the past millennia. We used the tools of geoarchaeology, an interdisciplinary science par excellence, combining different methods, techniques and scientific approaches from disciplines of cultural background (archaeology, history) and natural sciences (geology, geomorphology, biology).
In a construction pit for a sewage pipe system a mid-Holocene mangrove swamp was detected. The profile was analysed and dated with two different dating techniques (14C and OSL) in order to establish a solid chronostratigraphy. From that we conclude that 5250-5050 cal B.C. (= 7200-7000 cal BP) a mangrove swamp had developed with trees of considerable size. After the tree had fallen to the ground it was settled by lithophagae. The vegetation assemblage of this Avicennia swamp and its environs can be interpreted from the pollen record of the intercalated mud layer. Due to the continued sea level rise in the course of the Holocene transgression of the Arabian Gulf, the mangrove ecosystem was terminated when the tree was covered by sandy strata of a shallow marine - littoral ecosystem around 3500 B.C. (5.5 ka BP).
In Dubai Internet City the important archaeological site Al Sufouh 2, dating back to the Wadi Suq period (1900-1650 B.C.), has been studied in connection with archaeologists from Dubai City and Munich University. There the most prominent geological feature is the outcropping beachrock. It is evidence of former littoral sands which were cemented by calcium carbonate (CaCO3). After its formation marine erosion occurred due to sea level rise which broke off parts of the beachrock. This abrasion dates back to 2650-2550 cal B.C. (4600-4500 cal BP) according to 14C-dated lithophagae. Then the longshore drift pattern changed. A new coastal sand bar developed seaward of the site. Therefore, the impact of wave action seized and a tidal flat ecosystem developed - a geoecological setting comparable to today's Dubai Creek. It is in this sedimentary environment that many chopped camel bones (lat. Camelus dromedarius) were found. Several cooking pits are preserved on top of the beachrock as well as in the upper part of the tidal flat. This intertidal ecosystem was active at least from 1850 to 1550 cal B.C. (3800-3500 cal BP) according to the radiocarbon ages of mollusc shells in living position.
The geological profile reveals the geological and ecological history on the one hand and Man's use of the site on the other. The profile shows beachrock, partly eroded by the former sea and camel bones in different layers. The bones are all chopped, revealing their origin as eating or slaughter debris. Two different layers are visible. The lower one is in direct contact with the intertidal mollusc species Asaphis violascens, preserved in living, i.e. undisturbed position. The specimens date back to 1900-1777 cal B.C. (3850-3727 cal BP). The luminescence ages very well confirm this result. The palaeogeographical setting together with the archaeological evidence shows that people were living at the flank of a tidal creek - like the present Dubai Creek - eating camel meat and throwing away the waste into the sandy tidal flat.
Summarizing, we can conclude the following concerning the landscape reconstruction of Dubai's coastal plain: (a) rapid dune accumulation ca. 12-10 ka BP, confirming the latter part of a hyperarid phase (during 17-10 ka BP, assumed chronology of climate change in Arabia after Weijermars, 1999, modified); (b) marine transgression with littoral and intertidal facies around 8 ka BP; (c) development of mangrove swamps (Avicennia marina) ca. 7 ka BP (present-day analogue: mangrove swamps in Umm al Qaiwain); (d) marine transgression, submergence of mangrove swamp until ca. 5.5 ka BP; (e) accumulation and later cementation of beach ridge (present-day analogue: tidal creek near Umm al Qaiwain ); (f) subsequent erosion of beachrock ca. 4.5 ka BP (lithophagae); (g) evolution of tidal creek (sand and mud flats) ca. 4-3.5 ka BP and use of the site as slaughter place ca. 3900 - 3600 BP (Wadi Suq Period); (i) dune remobilisation 2200 - 450 yrs BP.

21.15 - 21.45:
Dr. Claudia Gruber, Dr. Angela von den Driesch and Dr. Henriette Manhart (University of Munich) -
The future of the past - The Al Sufouh 2 excavation and the fate of site and results

For the last four years, the joint project at Al Sufouh 2 combined investigations in archaeology, archaeozoology and geology.
Identification of the site as an ancient hunting camp for wild camels or a slaughter place for domestic one-humped camels has been clarified, as well as also its vicinity to the former coastal zone. A unique volume of bone material has been recovered to an extent that enables the building up of a data base for statistical analysis. Reconstruction of its past appearance will be possible for the site, which will provide a more detailed picture of the environmental conditions at the time of human presence. A mixed range of significant contemporary finds from the Wadi Suq period (ca. 1900-1600 BC), giving an idea of the event's dating, are catalogued with their pictures, material description and indication of measurements.
Apart from waiting for the final results of the material's evaluation, at the end of each excavation project, there is the question how to dispose of the site, material and finds. Is it really necessary and maybe even profitable to preserve the site or is the area intended for some other function? Should finds be exhibited in a special environment or can they be incorporated in the range of an already-existing museum? What other exhibits could complement the display?
Often, interests of economic and other kind are contrasting with the scientific ones. In the case of Al Sufouh 2, the particular character of the site and its significance for the entire area and different disciplines have been proven and make preservation in situ desirable. Focus on the camel is self-evident. Yet, a wider spectrum in terms of biological observations as well as stratigraphical, climatic and chronological features and indications of cultural impact like evidence in works of art should be included - also due to the rather limited number of excavated objects for display.
A selection of these matters will be discussed during the lecture.

21.45: Buffet Dinner

Thursday 7th April

9.30 - 11.00: THIRD SESSION

Chairman: Dr. Geoffrey King

9.30 - 10.00:
Salah Ali (Fujairah Museum) -
Excavations at Meraishid, Fujairah

Meraishid is located in the south-west quarter of Fujairah town. In summer 1997, a tomb was discovered by accident during construction work for the building of a new, privately-owned house.
Rescue excavations undertaken by the Fujairah Department of Heritage and Archaeology uncovered a 'U' shaped tomb, which was dated to the Second Millennium BC.
The paper will discuss the materials found in the grave .

10.00 - 10.30:
Professor Peter Magee (Bryn Mawr) -
Recent excavations at Muweilah (Sharjah, UAE).

The paper will provide the most recent results from the excavations at the Iron Age II settlement of Muweilah. Since we last spoke at the Annual symposium, our knowledge of the site has increased considerably with new data on the two gateways and several new buildings.
The organisation of these buildings, as indicated by their layout and contents, provides fresh information on activity patterning and social organisation at Muweilah during the period from c. 900 to 600 BC.

10.30 - 11.00:
Ahmed Hilal (Ra's al-Khaimah) -
Al-Najdi - a mound in Al-Ghubb, Ra's al-Khaimah

In the fertile area between Shimal and Nakheel, in the middle of once very prosperous palm gardens are the remains of a mound, which is bordered by two mudbrick towers. Local legend says that this mound was the birthplace of Ahmad bin Majid al-Najdi, while the visible remains point to a Sur, a defence structure for the palm garden areas.
Excavations started last year to examine the structures and develop a sequence of events. The lecture will give an introduction into the area of al-Rubb and will describe the preliminary results of the last two seasons at the mound.

11.00-11.30 Coffee Break

FOURTH SESSION: 11.30 - 12.30

Chairman: Professor Peter Magee

11.30 - 12.00:
Dr. Anne Benoist (CNRS) -
Cultual practices during Iron Age in the United Arab Emirates : new data from Bithnah-44/50.

Since 2001, researches about Iron Age (1350 – 300 BC) are developed by the French Archaeological Mission in the oasis of Bithnah, in the Emirate of Fujairah, in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Fujairah. An Iron Age cultural centre has been put in evidence on the site of Bithnah-44/50, in the eastern part of the valley. Excavations conducted on this site during the 2003 and 2004 campaigns have produced new data about the Iron Age rituals and their evolution during Iron Age II (1100 – 600 BC). They will be presented and discussed in this communication.

This paper will be presented on Dr. Benoist's behalf by Dr. Sophie Mery.

12.00 - 12.30:
Dr. Geoffrey King (SOAS, University of London) -
A Portuguese account of Dibba: a 17th C. description and map of the town

Today, the Portuguese fortress at Dibba on the coast of the UAE and Oman has vanished, but in the 17th C. it was second only to Sohar among the fortresses of the northern Bâtina. We know of its scale because, in 1632, the Spanish King, Philip IV, ordered the mapping of the fortresses within his Portuguese dominions in Africa, Arabia and the Far East. The result was the atlas known as the Livro das Plantas de todas as Fortelezas, Cidades e povoacões do Estado da India Oriental, a work which survives in a number of versions and recensions.
Thus, we have a record of the fortresses that the Portuguese had built over the previous century or so on the coasts of SE Arabia as well as on the coasts of Africa, India and beyond. The Livro was prepared at Goa by the Count of Linhares, the Viceroy of Portuguese India. The oldest recension of the Livro was prepared for Linhares by António Bocarro whose work incorporated that of Pedro Barreto de Resende. The SE Arabian fortresses recorded include Soar (Sohar), Corfacão (Khawr Fakkân), Quelba (Khawr Kalba), Libédia (al-Bid'yya), Mada (Murbah?) and Doba (Dibba). From Dibba, Bocarro's list jumps to Dio (Diu) in western India. Of the towns in the modern UAE, the most important on the Bâtina was Dibba, judging by the size of its fortifications.
The oldest MS of the Livro is dated to 1635 and it is now in the library at Evora in Spain. Other versions include the Livro do Estado da India Oriental of ca 1636 by de Resende, and now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. De Resende's work was subsequently used in a 1639 MS prepared by Antonio de Maris Carneiro who published a volume entitled Descripcam da Fortaleza de Sofala, now in the Biblioteca Nacional at Lisbon. Yet another MS dated to 1646 is in the British Library.
The Count of Linhares sent from Goa two recensions of the fortress maps to Philip IV with the warning to the King that this great compendium was as good as he could make it as a record, but that, because of an insufficiency of surveyors and the sheer number of Portuguese fortresses in the east, the plans were not always as precise as he had hoped. However, he assured the King that the accuracy of the written descriptions compensated for the defects of the drawn plans.
Of the fortresses in Arabia, that at Dibba is one of the best recorded, with a written description by de Resende and a map that corresponds well with the description. The 1639 MS in Lisbon shows the Dibba fortress and its outworks and suburbs as being far more complex than the fortresses at Bid'iyya, Khawr Fakkân, Qwalba and Mada. Only the fortress at Suhâr surpassed Dibba in scale among the Bâtina fortresses.
The various MSS illustrating Dibba and de Resende's description constitute major documents for our record of the town in the 17th C. and reflect its importance in the Portuguese period in the Arabian Gulf region. It is some compensation for the total loss of Dibba's Portuguese fortifications.

12.30: Closing remarks by Dr. Hassan M. Al-Naboodah

13.00: Buffet Lunch

End of Symposium