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The Past

2,000 - 200 years ago
Camel burial


















The ritual burial of camels is a practice alluded to in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry. Camels were sometimes tethered to the graves of their fallen masters, or slain and buried alongside heroes in battle. In the Emirates camel burials were first discovered at al-Dur and Jebel Emalah, but the most important traces of this practice come from Mileiha where dozens of camel burials, interspersed with horse burials, have been excavated by a team from the Sharjah Archaeological Museum.

The Mileiha camel burials were simple pit graves without any built structure. The camels were interred in what has been described as a natural resting position with the legs folded up under the body. This suggests that the camels were led into their burial pits, made to kneel and then slaughtered. Of particular interest is the presence at Mileiha of both normal dromedary camels, similar in size to those found in the Emirates today, and dromedary-Bactrian hybrids which were larger and more robust than modern camels. Previously, hybrid camels of this sort were known in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, but not in the Arabian peninsula.


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