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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

Click on a letter below to access information on the individual Archaeological Sites.

A B D F G H J K L M N Q R S T

Kalba - (24)

One of the most important settlements on the Batinah coast of the UAE, Kalba is also the location of an important mangrove stand (Khor Kalba). The prehistory of Kalba has been investigated in recent years by a team from the Institute of Archaeology in London, working at a mound in the Kalba gardens to the west of the main town. Here a large settlement dating back to the Umm al-Nar period and settled well into the first millennium BC is being excavated. The site at Kalba is comparable in many respects to Tell Abraq and provides a long sequence of human occupation for the East Coast of the UAE, just as Tell Abraq does for the Gulf coast. A massive Iron Age wall at Kalba is almost identical in dimensions and construction to the Iron Age fortification enclosure wall at Awhala in southern Fujairah.

Early in the sixteenth century the Portuguese, expanding their empire in the Indian Ocean, built a series of forts along the southeastern coast of Arabia, including one at Kalba. In his Viaggio dell'Indie Orientali (Venice, 1590) the Venetian jeweller Gasparo Balbi mentions a place on the Arabian coast called 'Chelb' which is probably Kalba. Kalba was visited by a Dutch ship called the Meerkat in 1666. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Kalba was tributary to Sharjah, but in 1937 it was recognised as a Trucial sheikhdom by the British government.

Khatt - (25)

This extensive oasis in northern Ra’s al-Khaimah is famed for its hot spring which today constitute one of the area's main tourist attractions. Yet in the past the area was popular as well, as shown by the large number of archaeological sites of all periods which dot the district. No fewer than 163 sites were recorded around Khatt during a survey conducted in October, 1992. These ranged from sites with stone tools in the Arabian bifacial tradition to nineteenth century mudbrick fortification towers. While a large number of prehistoric tombs were identified, relatively few settlements were found.

The most important early settlement was a site called Nud Ziba, which has painted pottery from c. 2000 BC comparable to that found at Tell Abraq, while later settlement was clustered immediately west of the modern date plantations. The apparent absence of settlement in the area is probably due to the fact that cultivation over the course of 5000 years has destroyed ancient settlements, whereas tombs, normally built of stone, were more enduring. Khatt has given its name to a particular type of large, oval tomb of second millennium BC date which was first observed in the area.

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Khor Fakkan - (26)

One of the most important harbours on the East Coast of the UAE, Khor Fakkan has a long history of human settlement. Excavations by a team from the Sharjah Archaeological Museum have identified 34 graves and a settlement belonging to the early-mid second millennium BC. These are clustered on rock outcrops overlooking the habour.

In 1580 the Venetian jeweller Gasparo Balbi noted 'Chorf' in a list of places on the East Coast of the UAE, and this is almost certainly Khor Fakkan. The Portuguese built a fort at Khor Fakkan. By 1666 this was a ruin, for it figures in the log book of the Dutch vessel known as the Meerkat where we read: 'Gorfacan is a place on a small bay which has about 200 small houses all built from date branches, near the beach. It had on the Northern side a triangular Portuguese fortress, of which the desolate ruin can still be seen.

On the Southern coast of the bay in a corner there is another fortress on a hill but there is no garrison nor artillery on it, and it is also in ruins. This place has a beautiful valley with a multitude of date palms and some figtrees and there also grow melons, watermelons and myrrh (!). Under the trees there are several wells which are used for irrigation. It is good and fresh water'.

One reason for the ruinous state of the forts at Khor Fakkan may have been that the Persian navy, under the command of Sheikh Muhammad Suhari (an Omani from Sohar), invaded the East Coast of what is now the Emirates in 1623 and, facing a Portuguese counter-attack, withdrew to the Portuguese forts, including that of Khor Fakkan. When the Persians were expelled, the Portuguese commander Ruy Freire urged the people of Khor Fakkan to remain loyal to the Portuguese crown, and established a Portuguese customs office as well. In 1737, however, long after the Portuguese had been expelled from Arabia, the Persians again invaded Khor Fakkan, with the help of the Dutch, during their intervention in the Omani civil war. In 1765 Khor Fakkan belonged to a sheikh of the Qawasim, according to the German traveller Carsten Niebuhr, just as it does to this day.

Kush This large mound (c. 100 x 120 m, 6.5 . high) stands on the edge of the Shimal plain to the north of Ra's al-Khaimah City. Excavations here since 1994 by a British expedition have revealed a long sequence of occupation extending from the time of the Sasanians (perhaps third/fourth centuries AD as in Area F at al-Dur) to the early fourteenth century. In the intervening periods there are abundant examples of imported Iraqi (Samarran), Iranian and Far Eastern ceramics which, taken together, provide an important archaeological sequence for the Northern Emirates over the course of roughly 1000 years. Amongst the more exotic finds was a coffee bean, the earliest yet recovered in the UAE. Kush is likely to represent a town which was the forerunner of the later emporium of Julfar, closer to the coast.


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