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Two ancient UAE towns linked global trade

Ed-Dur and Mleiha were trade and cultural centres

Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News
Visitors at the archaeological exhibition which traces an important period of early UAE history.
Gulf News

Sharjah: Two ancient UAE settlements bridged international trade in the 1st century, a new exhibition shows.

The exhibition, titled Ed-Dur: Glimpse into Civilisation, opened on Wednesday at the Sharjah Archaeology Museum. It will run until March 26, 2016.

Ed-Dur (on the coast near Umm Al Quwain) and Mleiha (in Sharjah emirate) connected the flow of goods along the western and eastern sides of the Arabian Peninsula.

Caravans along the eastern side would land in Ed-Dur while goods from the western side would arrive in Mleiha.

The link between Ed-Dur and Mleiha in effect completed the circuit — which circulated trade between ancient Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, Oman and even India.

The exhibition showcases mainly artefacts from excavations in Umm Al Quwain, belonging to Ed-Dur. Relics from Mleiha are also on display.

“Common currency and similarities in the artefacts found in the two towns shows us there was a link between them,” said Rania Hussain, senior archaeologist, Umm Al Quwain Archaeology Centre.

The exhibition is the first collaboration between Sharjah Museums Department and the Department of Archaeology and Heritage in Umm Al Quwain.

Similarities in burial rituals — of laying animals to rest with their owners — and vessels, decorations and small bronze snake figures have also been unearthed.

Besides their importance to trade, the two towns were also among the few settlements in the peninsula that were continuously inhabited over a long period of time.

Ed-Dur, which was roughly four to five square kilometres in size, even had a temple for the sun god. Fresh water wells have also been uncovered at the site. “Judging by the size, houses, graves, and temple, we think it was a big city for those times,” Rania added.

The settlement lies around halfway between Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah. It is only accessible by permission from the archaeology department.

Visitors can see 79 artefacts — 69 from Umm Al Quwain and 10 from Sharjah — that provide insight into the way the region evolved into a hub of transport and commerce linking east and west.

The exhibition was officially opened by Shaikh Salem Bin Abdul Rahman Al Qasimi, chairman of the Ruler’s Office.

Future projects that focus on fostering an understanding of the shared histories between different emirates were on the table.

Alya Al Ghufli, managing director, Umm Al Quwain Archaeology Centre and Museum, added that the exhibition is “a wonderful chance for people in Sharjah to learn about the shared history going back over several thousand years”.

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