|When we think
of weaponry and warfare in the ancient Near East we tend to
think of mounted horsemen wielding swords and spears and defending
themselves with shields. In fact, the earliest weapons in the
Emirates were straight copper and bronze daggers and long spears,
both of which make their appearance in the late 3rd millennium
B.C. (and can be seen, e.g. in the Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah
Museums) and would have been used on foot. Swords appeared after
c. 2000 B.C., and the museums of Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah, Dubai
and Al Ain all display a considerable variety of bronze swords
from the 2nd and 1st millennia B.C. The swords of the Emirates,
like those in other parts of the Near East, vary greatly in
size depending on the period, and include long, straight blades
for slashing as well as short, straight blades for close cut-and-thrust
combat. The socketed axes so common in the 1st millennium B.C.
are remarkably similar to the small jerz used in modern times
by the Shihu of Ras al-Khaimah, but the curved khanjar of today
is a modern weapon without any precursors in the archaeological
record of the U.A.E.
Perhaps because of the abundance of copper in the mountains
of Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah iron was not adopted until very
late in the regions history. The earliest iron knife from
the area was found at Muweilah, near Sharjah Airport, in a context
dating to 800 B.C. but this was probably an import from Iran.
During the later pre-Islamic era (3rd cent. B.C. - 7th cent.
A.D.), however, iron became common and was used for knives,
swords and arrowheads. Iron ore has been found in the interior
of Sharjah near Al-Madam and Mleiha, so that local production
of iron tools, at least during the later pre-Islamic era, is