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Tracing Bronze Age marine trade route

posted on 17/04/2001: 1973 views

A number of archaeological sites has been discovered on the islands and shorelines of Abu Dhabi and Qatar, indicating a Bronze Age route taken by merchant ships, a conference was told in the capital yesterday. Dr Robert Carter of the Institute of Archaeology, University College of London, who is also Ceramic Specialist of the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, ADIAS, said numerous coastal and island sites have now been identified in Abu Dhabi and Qatar, with ceramic and carbon analysis showing features belonging to the Bronze Age era. Dr Carter disclosed this in his paper "Tracing Bronze Age Trade on Coastal Island Sites in Abu Dhabi and Qatar”, on the second day of the First International Conference on Archaeology of the UAE, which was opened by Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Sheikh Sultan also opened an exhibition of archaeological finds made in the UAE. The conference, held by the Zayed Centre for Heritage and History in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Culture, aims to throw light on the entire history of the country from the Late Stone Age, about 7,500 years ago, to the Late Islamic Period. Dr. Carter said: "What I believe we have is a series of way-stations located on islands which were otherwise uninhabited in the Late Third and Early Second Millennium BC. "My hypothesis is that these sites delineate the route taken by Bronze Age merchant shipping between Bahrain and the Northern Emirates during the Qalat Al Bahrain City II period, probably enroute to the Harappan and late Harappan world.”

He also added that the choice of location for the way-stations was determined by the presence of sheltered by accessible anchorage, the navigational techniques of the time, and probably the availability of water and wood. "If this hypothesis is accepted, we are in a position to make inferences regarding sailing and navigational techniques of the time, the distance and likely the length of time taken for journey and perhaps and the seasons travelled,” Dr Carter concluded. Dr. Soren Blau, of the Australian National University, Canberra, who had worked in the UAE previously presented a paper on Third Millennium BC graves found in the UAE. She described the architectural designs of tombs and associated grave goods. Dr Blau said relatively little attention has been paid to human skeletal remains within the tombs, and the burials and tombs have yet to be view in contextual manner.

Dr Sabah Jassim, of Sharjah Directorate of Archaeology, discussed Third Millennium BC culture in his paper. He examined the contents of the newly-identified tombs at Jebel Buhais and Mileiha and considered the implications of their discovery. The conference ends tomorrow. (The Gulf News)


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