3 March 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

New Archaeological Discoveries in Abu Dhabi shed light on Umm an-Nar Bronze Age culture (2700-2000 BCE)

New findings demonstrate the resilience and inventiveness of local Bronze Age societies (Umm an-Nar Bronze Age culture), as well as the emirate’s role in regional and international trade, nearly 65 years after the first archaeological excavations in Abu Dhabi.

A recurring theme at Abu Dhabi excavation sites has been the use of natural resources, such as copper, pearls, plaster, and freshwater, to facilitate international trade, sustain communities, and establish prosperity.

Archaeologists from the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi) kicked off the new archaeological season by announcing discoveries from the Umm Nar Bronze Age culture (2700-2000 BCE) on Sas Al Nakhl Island.

Recent excavations on Sas Al Nakhl Island, also known as Umm an-Nar, have revealed bitumen from ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) that was used to waterproof pottery, as well as a clay-lined storage pit. One fragment, which bears the impression of wood and two pieces of rope, was most likely part of a Bronze Age boat.

Sas Al Nakhl also referred to locally as Umm an-Nar, which means “mother of fire” or “the place of fire,” is situated close to the contemporary city center. Ashes and dark soil, which result from fires, cover large areas of the site, which may be the reason for this name. The island has given the Bronze Age Umm an-Nar culture its name because it was the first site of this era to be excavated in the area.

A stone object found on the Sas Al Nakhl Island. Photo: Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism
A stone object found on the Sas Al Nakhl Island. Photo: Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism

Finds from the recent excavations include a well-preserved assemblage of over 30,000 bones revealing new insights into the Bronze Age diet. This diet consisted mostly of fish and seabirds. Large animal bones discovered gathered around a large, circular fireplace point to ritualistic or group activities. A few of the bones have been fashioned into spindles and spatulas, among other things.

These new findings indicate that it was also a thriving port of significant international importance between 2800 and 2200 BCE, trading with Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley (modern-day Pakistan and India).

Bitumen from the site has been traced back to sources in ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), where it was used to waterproof pottery and a clay-lined storage pit. One large fragment bears the impression of wood and two pieces of rope, indicating that this was likely once part of the waterproofing on the hull of a Bronze Age boat, providing evidence of the long history of seafaring.

H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Department of Culture & Tourism Abu Dhabi, said: “Our Founding Father Sheikh Zayed was instrumental in driving understanding of Abu Dhabi’s history through his passion for the land and people of the United Arab Emirates. DCT Abu Dhabi’s ambitious archaeology programme is a commitment to perpetuate that legacy to discover, preserve, and educate about our country’s past.”

Abu Dhabi currently has seven active excavation sites. Excavations are scheduled for the 2023–24 season in Al Ain, Sas Al Nakhl, Ghagha Island, the westernmost island of the United Arab Emirates, where DCT Abu Dhabi archaeologists have discovered 8,500-year-old structures, and Delma Island, where they are uncovering a 7,000-year-old settlement.

Cover Photo: Abu Dhabi Culture

Related Articles

Maltaş Temple Revealed

10 August 2021

10 August 2021

Phrygian Valley, 10 meters high monument with Phrygian scriptures inscriptions on it discovered. The unearthed Maltaş monument is actually the...

A 5,000-year-old large house has been discovered in China’s Yangshao Village

7 December 2022

7 December 2022

Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology archaeologists have excavated the ruins of house foundations dating back more than...

Ancient Jordanian town referred to as Heshbon in the Old Testament provides insight into regional agricultural history

20 January 2022

20 January 2022

The American archaeologist stated that Tell Hisban, located on the Madaba plains of Jordan, represents the “granary of the empires”....

Ancient tomb chamber discovered in north China

3 January 2022

3 January 2022

Archaeologists have unearthed a tomb with a stone outer coffin dating back to the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) in north...

Archaeologists discovered a dragon made of mussel shells in in Inner Mongolia

26 August 2023

26 August 2023

Archaeologists discovered a dragon made of mussel shells earlier this week in Chifeng, North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which...

Minoan civilization may have used celestial navigation techniques

3 March 2023

3 March 2023

According to a study done by an American researcher at the University of Wales, ancient civilizations may have used celestial...

A new study attributes Japanese, Korean and Turkish languages all to a common ancestor in northeastern China

11 November 2021

11 November 2021

According to a new study, modern languages ranging from Japanese and Korean to Turkish and Mongolian may have had a...

10,000-year-old rock art discovered in the Indian village of Medikonda

3 July 2021

3 July 2021

Rock art containing tiger, human and animal figures was found at the Jogulamba Gadwal site in Telangana, India. The New...

Hima, a rock art site in Saudi Arabia, added to the UNESCO World Heritage List

24 July 2021

24 July 2021

The rock art site Hima in Najran has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, becoming the sixth registered...

Important archaeological find in the seas of Sicily: Archaic stone anchors found off Syracuse

24 November 2023

24 November 2023

During a joint operation by the Maritime Superintendency of the Sicilian Region and the Diving Unit of the Guardia di...

Ancient Balkan genomes trace the rise and fall of the Roman Empire’s frontier, reveal Slavic migrations to southeastern Europe

7 January 2024

7 January 2024

The genomic history of the Balkan Peninsula during the first millennium of the common era—a period marked by significant changes...

Archaeologists unearth 600,000-year-old evidence of Britain’s early inhabitants

22 June 2022

22 June 2022

New finds have indicated that some of Britain’s earliest people lived in the Canterbury suburbs. According to the research, led...

2000-year-old passage found after Latrina at Smyrna Theater

28 January 2022

28 January 2022

Archaeologists discovered a 2,000-year-old passage that was 26 meters long and constructed in an “L” form in the theater part...

Restoration of the Duomo of Florence has revealed original polychrome paint

1 December 2022

1 December 2022

During the restoration of the Porta dei Cornacchini and the marble cladding of the northern side of Florence’s Duomo, extensive...

Serbian Archaeologists Unearth Roman Triumphal Arch Dedicated to Emperor Caracalla

24 January 2024

24 January 2024

Archaeologists in Serbia have unearthed an ancient Roman triumphal arch dating back to the third century at Viminacium, a Roman...