x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Digging of ancient tomb in Sharjah halted

Excavation of the 2,000-year-old settlement in Dibba Al Hisn has stopped due to the blockage of modern buildings surrounding the site.

The archaeologist Adelina Kutterer, left, with a colleague working on an earlier excavation in Dibba al Hisn, Sharjah.
The archaeologist Adelina Kutterer, left, with a colleague working on an earlier excavation in Dibba al Hisn, Sharjah.

DUBAI // An archaeological dig on an ancient settlement in Dibba Al Hisn has not progressed for a year, as authorities continue to negotiate the purchase of surrounding buildings.

Excavation of the site has been restricted to an area of 20 metres by 20 metres, where a settlement believed to be more than 2,000 years old had been found in the Sharjah enclave. But work was halted midway through last year as Sharjah officials tried to buy the properties.

"The plot in which we are digging is surrounded by modern buildings so we couldn't expand our excavation," said Dr Sabah Jasim, the head of antiquities at Sharjah's Department of Culture.

"We have stopped for the time being, hoping to purchase the surrounding buildings. Then we'll continue later on."

Archaeological work in Dibba Al Hisn began in 2004 when a resident found a piece of pottery in his garden.

Authorities bought the property and later found a large tomb dating from the first century AD, with items that suggest trade with the Roman and Mesopotamian empires.

Dibba Al Hisn, on the east coast of the country, was once the capital of Oman and an important port for the region.

The settlement is the second site to be investigated in the area, and archaeologists have already found artefacts dating to the 1st or 2nd century BC.

Dr Jasim declined to say when the properties would be bought and the project restarted.

"Such a method takes a long time, a lot of bureaucracy and financing," he said. "Eventually we will sort it out but we have no idea how long will it take."

mcroucher@thenational.ae