From right: UAE University professor Dr Aisha Al Suwaidi; Dr Maryam Sultan Lootah, Professor of the Department of Politics at UAE University; Chairman Dr Hamad Bin Seray, Professor of Ancient History at the Department of History and Archaeology, at UAE University; Dr Jamal Hajar, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Alexandria University, Egypt; Dr Ahmad Zakaria Al Shalaq, Professor of History, Ain Shams University; and Ahmad Obaid of the Centre for Documentation and Research, at the seminar in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: While Shaikh Diab Bin Eisa is acknowledged as the first leader to encourage his tribe members to form permanent settlements on Abu Dhabi Island once fresh water was discovered in 1761, increasing archeological discoveries have revealed evidence of human settlement as far back as the Stone Age.

This was highlighted by culture and heritage experts and scholars on the final day of the ‘Abu Dhabi: 250 years of Development' symposium organised by the Emirates Heritage Club and the Sultan Bin Zayed Centre for Culture and Media.

"There is evidence that proves that the Al Ain area has been occupied consistently for at least 6,000 to 7,000 years… based on discoveries of the Hafeet Tombs to ADACH's [Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage] latest discovery on Dalma Island and Al Khan in Sharjah," Peter Hellyer, Director of Research at the National Media Council, said.

The Hafeet Tombs, located at the bottom of Jebel Hafeet, are dated between 3200BC and 2700BC. A group from the UK's Southampton University uncovered neolithic, medieval and later structures on Dalma Island.

Since the 1950s, archeological teams from around the world have visited the Abu Dhabi to begin the process of uncovering the emirate's past. This has led to the discovery of archeological sites that date back to 150,000 years ago, to disk-shaped tools made from local flint in the Western Region, which were dated at approximately 7,500 years ago, and evidence of settlements at Umm Al Nar island during the Bronze Age, among other sites.

Construction methods

"The materials used in the construction of such structures, such as rocks, can be found off the coast of Abu Dhabi Island and the islands surrounding it… such as the rocks used for Al Merikhi House, or the House of Pearl Merchants, and the mosques of Al Merikhi, Al Dosari, and Al Mohannadi on Dalma Island, which strengthens our theory that all the materials needed by those living in different eras to create such structures can be found in their immediate environments," Dr Abdul Sattar Al Azzawi, a restoration and maintenance expert at the Department of Culture and Information in Sharjah, said.

Nasser Al Aboudi, an archeological and cultural expert, agreed, adding: "Those who lived in desert environments created structures using a special type of mud mixed with palm fronds to create bricks, while those who lived on coastal areas used rocks and coral stones, reflecting their different environments."