Abu Dhabi: Graves dating back to 2000BC mark an impressive archaeological heritage and rich cultural history unearthed during the construction of the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road project in Ras Al Khaimah, Gulf News has learnt.
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, earlier known as Emirates Road, is one of the strategic routes in the UAE’s land transport and road network.
The Sieh Al Herf site, next to Al Salhiya Road, just off Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road in Ras Al Khaimah, was discovered in October 2012. It contains graves, ancient tombs and archaeological artefacts.
The Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road project passes by approximately ten features of the archeological site, including two graves. The first is an 18m-long horseshoe shape, and the second in W-shaped. Other tombs are still under investigation.
Since then, the Ministry of Public Works has halted the road-building until further order following a request from Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Shohooh National Heritage Association.
According to some authorities in Ras Al Khaimah, a bridge built to rescue such historical antiques is being considered as one of the options that would cost Ras Al Khaimah government about Dh50,000,000. Transferring the road by specialist engineers could be a second solution, which would cost over Dh100,000,000, to include compensation for people who live in the area.
“Removing the graves and tombs and shifting the discovered historical antiques to a museum could be a final decision taken by the responsible authorities and I am not really supportive of. A serious action should be taken to rescue such historical antiques,” an official told Gulf News.
“UAE authorities should highlight the heritage of the country, preserve its history and continue to explore more. The unearthed graves, tombs and antiques demonstrate the history of the Arabian Peninsula and they are very rare. So far only three historical graves have been found in Oman, Ras Al Khaimah and another one in Fujairah,” he added.
Mohammad Ahmad Al Kait, Director General of the Department of Antiques and Museums in Ras Al Khaimah, pointed out that the site was discovered in the 1980s by British archaeologists.
“In 1999, the late Shaikh Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi issued orders to preserve the site and its contents until further excavations can be conducted,” Al Kait said.
He added that in 2004, His Highness Shaikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, ordered that all historical sites in Ras Al Khaimah be protected and preserved, including the archaeological site in Seeh Al Harf.
The department brought over a team of archaeologists and excavation experts from Durham University to carry out excavations in Seeh Al Harf, which is located on the Ring Road.
The excavations resulted in unearthing 50 mass graves dating back to 2,000BC. Among the graves, four were found on the Ring Road. Ten thousand artefacts were recovered and sent to Britain for further studies and research.