Abu Al-Abyadh

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Location of Abu Al-Abyadh (Source: ADIAS)

Location of Abu Al-Abyadh (Source: ADIAS)

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Map of distribution of archaeological sites on Abu Al-Abyadh (Source: ADIAS)

Abu Al-Abyadh is the largest of the more than 200 islands along the coastline of the UAE territory. It lies around 55 kilometres south-west of Abu Dhabi city, around 8 kilometres north of the mainland of Arabia. The island measures around 35 kilometres east-west by 15 kilometres north-south. In January and February 2001, a team from the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, led by Daniel Hull and Stephen Rowland, completed the first systematic archaeological survey of the island (Hull and Rowland 2003).

This survey located 51 archaeological sites, almost all of which are situated on the island's coastline. Very few sites were found in the interior of the island, since this area was, until recent construction and drainage projects there, made up of low-lying, inter-tidal sand flats.

The sites consist largely of surface features, such as hearths, structures, and middens, as well as artefact scatters, primarily of pottery and flint. Analysis of pottery scatters within and around each site by Dr. Robert Carter has given some interesting indications. One site yielded pottery of the 'Ubaid period (that is, the sixth and fifth millennia BC). Three other sites produced pottery suggestive of the Late Pre-Islamic, or Early Islamic, periods (the fifth to eighth centuries AD). Since 28 of the 29 sites with pottery scatters produced sherds of Late Islamic date, the majority of human activity on the island is likely to date to between the fourteenth century and the arrival of oil-based industrial development in the UAE in the 1950s.


Abu al-Abyadh (Source: Arabian Wildlife)

Radiocarbon dates from Abu al-Abyadh (Source: ADIAS website)


Hellyer, P. and D.J. Hull. 2002. The Archaeology of Abu Al Abyad, pp.17-38, in R.J. Perry, (ed.), The Island of Abu Al Abyad, ERWDA, Abu Dhabi. 140 pp. ISBN 9948-406-19-05
[ to download this article in Acrobat .pdf format click here (15.6 MB) ] .

Hull, D. and S. Rowland. 2003. A Survey of the Island of Abu'l-Abyadh, United Arab Emirates. Antiquity 77 (No.295) March 2003.