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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Al Ain historical dig throws up more surprises

Copper mining helped Neolithic ancestors to flourish and exploit emerging trade routes

Archaeologists in Al Ain have uncovered proof of habitation stretching back to the Neolithic period. Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi.
Archaeologists in Al Ain have uncovered proof of habitation stretching back to the Neolithic period. Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi.

Work by archaeologists on an ancient settlement in Al Ain continues to unearth surprises as to how Neolithic populations lived.

A collection of carved digging tools and arrow heads dating back more than 8,000 years has been discovered by teams working at the Bayt bin Ati site in Abu Dhabi.

Excavations by the Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi suggest the region was rich in raw materials, with copper mined in Al Ain being transported to establish emerging coastal trade routes.

Archaeologists now know that Bronze Age traders established a port on Umm An Nar Island, close to modern-day Abu Dhabi, which would eventually become a hub for international trade.

“The founding father of the UAE, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, recognised the importance of understanding this ancient past and encouraged fieldwork in Al Ain from the 1960s onwards,” said Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi.

“The discoveries our team of archaeologists are uncovering are fascinating and reveal incredible details about our ancestors, their lifestyles, their resilience and their ingenuity.

“These details uncovered about our history and earliest culture are both educational and inspiring to all — especially our younger generations as they build their knowledge and appreciation of their Emirati ancestors.”

According to archaeologists, as the economy of the area continued to grow, people began to construct fortified mud brick towers.

One of these towers, Hili 8, dates back almost 5,000 years and was discovered by French archaeologists invited to the UAE in the 1980s.

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The Bronze Age inhabitants of Al Ain used the copper from the nearby mountains to make weapons and agricultural tools that provided safety and prosperity.

The discoveries make the area one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places.

“The stone tools found at these sites can be dated to around 8,000 years ago on the basis of radiocarbon dates from other sites in the UAE,” said Peter Magee, head of archaeology at DCT Abu Dhabi.

“Some specific tool types found around Al Yahar may even be earlier.”