UAE - New archeological discoveries revel at Archaeology of UAE conference


New archeological discoveries revel at Archaeology of UAE conference


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WAM Abu Dhabi, March 31st, 2011  -- In the second day of "Archaeology of the United Arab Emirates" conference organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) in Hilton Hotel in Al Ain, the results of the GCC Archaeological Team Excavations at Rumailah and the Current State of the Site was reveled.

Dr. Walid Yasin Al-Tikriti, the Archaeology Manager of ADACH said in a session held this morning that Rumeilah settlement is the first Iron Age site to have been excavated in the United Arab Emirates and considered, as a key site of the period in the region. Karen Frifelt tested the site in the late 1960s and uncovered remains of a mud brick house resting on sterile sand.

The stratification she hoped to find at this relatively high site, which looked to her different from the shallow Bronze Age site at Hili 1, she previously excavated, did not fulfill her ambition. Only a few years after Frifelt's excavations a small local team from the department of antiquities and tourism led by the author carried out further investigations, which resulted in the discovery of a complete house reminiscent of those at Hili 2.

The most extensive excavations at the site were carried out in the early 1980s by the French Archaeological Expedition led by Remy Boucharlat and Pierre Lombard. The French excavations brought to light more houses with two building layers, defined as Period I and II.

Two areas at the site were tested during excavations carried out by the Gulf Cooperation Council team in 2005 under the leadership of Dr. Al-Tikriti ,the first is located at the far southwest end of the site whilst the second one occupies a small portion of the central part, and the second area brought to light what seems to be a third building layer resting directly on the bedrock.

On the other hand, Dr Mark Beech (ADACH, Abu Dhabi), Anjana Reddy (ADACH, Abu Dhabi) and Ahmed Abdullah Al Haj (ADACH, Al Ain) - presented a comprehensive presentation on the Preliminary Cultural Review system in Abu Dhabi: protecting cultural landscapes under pressure from economic development.

The Preliminary Cultural Review (PCR) process is a service provided by the Historic Environment Department of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage to organizations, firms or individuals requiring archaeological/cultural impact clearance prior to development, whether it is in the context of a Preliminary Environmental Review (PER), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study, or Construction/Development NoC Permit.

The PCR procedure forms the Cultural Heritage component of Environmental Impact Assessment procedures carried out according to the UAE Federal Environment Laws no. 23 and 24 (1999). Since the summer of 2006 a total of 312 PCR applications have been received and processed.

In another session Christian Velde from the National Museum, Ras Al Khaimah spoke about the end of Julfar al-Mataf : A re-evaluation of the Julfar al-Mataf sequence. A discrepancy in the dating between the Japanese excavations and the English excavations has always puzzled. The Japanese occupation ends at the end of the 15 or beginning of the 16th century while the English and the French excavations show a use of the fort and the mosque until the end of the 16th century with a few finds, which can be dated even later.

A new interpretation of the excavations formulates a solution for the differences in the dating of the final end of Mataf. The dating of the Japanese excavation represents the end of Julfar al-Mataf as settled town.

The results of the recent excavations in al-Nudud support the same early end of Mataf and Nudud. It seems now, that after 1500 Nudud and Mataf are slowly depopulated and Ras al-Khaimah, which is first mentioned in 1517 as a large place is taking over as a centre of commerce, still named Julfar in all of the sources.

The area of the mosque and the fort have been used far longer than the rest of Mataf and we now assume that the fort in al-Mataf may have been used in the 16th century by a Hormuzi garrison, which also rebuilt the mosque in stone. It may even have been the seat of a Hormuzi Governor, which seem to have ruled Julfar from 1540 onwards. Finally it is the same fort, which is described in the fights of 1633 as a fort along the coast, which was occupied by a Portuguese garrison.

Joseph Elders (Church of England), Elizabeth Popescu, John Percival and Peter Hellyer (National Media Council) - presented a new research on The Sir Bani Yas monastery and its context.

A Christian monastic site dating to c.600-750 AD was discovered in 1992 on Sir Bani Yas island, in the Western Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and was partly excavated in 1993-1996 by a team from the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, ADIAS.

On the instructions of the His Highness Gen. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces further survey, research and excavation work was undertaken for the Tourism Development and Investment Company, TDIC, in 2009-11 to facilitate the presentation of the site to the public. This has revealed more details about the monastery and its local, regional and global historical context.