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The Past

20,000 - 2,000 years ago

One of the most important settlements on the Batinah coast of the UAE, Kalba is also the location of an important mangrove stand (Khor Kalba). The prehistory of Kalba has been investigated in recent years by a team from the Institute of Archaeology in London, working at a mound in the Kalba gardens to the west of the main town. Here a large settlement dating back to the Umm al-Nar period and settled well into the first millennium BC is being excavated. The site at Kalba is comparable in many respects to Tell Abraq and provides a long sequence of human occupation for the East Coast of the UAE, just as Tell Abraq does for the Gulf coast. A massive Iron Age wall at Kalba is almost identical in dimensions and construction to the Iron Age fortification enclosure wall at Awhala in southern Fujairah.

Early in the sixteenth century the Portuguese, expanding their empire in the Indian Ocean, built a series of forts along the southeastern coast of Arabia, including one at Kalba. In his Viaggio dell'Indie Orientali (Venice, 1590) the Venetian jeweller Gasparo Balbi mentions a place on the Arabian coast called 'Chelb' which is probably Kalba. Kalba was visited by a Dutch ship called the Meerkat in 1666. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Kalba was tributary to Sharjah, but in 1937 it was recognised as a Trucial sheikhdom by the British government.

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