The Semitic deity whose name means literally 'sun' is attested throughout
the Arabian peninsula. In the Emirates an impressive temple to Shams
was excavated at al-Dur
by a Belgian team. The identification of the temple with this deity
has been secured by the discovery of a limestone basin with a poorly
inscription including the name Shams. In addition, coins found at Mileiha
and al-Dur include several which bear the name Shams written in South
Arabian letters, or with a simple monogram in the form of the initial
letter shin, Sh-, generally taken as an abbreviation for the full name.
This has raised the possibility that the seated figure of Zeus shown
on the reverse of this coinage was assimilated by the local Arabian tribes with their own solar god Shams.
Shams occurs as a theophoric
element in personal names all over the Arabian peninsula. Thus, it
is interesting to note that a bronze bowl found by the French team
at Mileiha has the name Marashams engraved on it in South Arabian letters. This strengthens the suggestion that Shams was one of the chief deities worshipped in the Emirates during the late pre-Islamic era.