The Civilization of the United Arab Emirates

A nation who does not know its past and does not document will neither be able to manage its present nor shape its future. This was emphasized by the founding leader, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, when he said, “A nation that knows not its past has neither a present nor a future”. We, in the United Arab Emirates, “are not an incidental nation in history” as stated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The history of our homeland spans nearly 7000 years as evidenced by the inscriptions, drawings and archaeological finds uncovered by international missions during the period from the early nineteen fifties to the present day. The historical periods of UAE can be divided as follows:

UAE Civilization in Prehistoric Times:

Firstly, UAE Civilization in Prehistoric Times:
Archaeological excavations began in the United Arab Emirates with the discovery of the tombs of Umm al Nar in Abu Dhabi that had a significant impact in unveiling the UAE deep-rooted history. The various archaeological finds on this island bear witness to the ancient civilizations that flourished in the region for a considerable time, starting from either the Paleolithic or Neolithic Ages (6000 B.C. - 3500 B.C.) up to the end of the Iron Age (1300 B.C. - 300 B.C.). The findings show the following:

1. UAE Civilization in the Neolithic Age (6000 B.C. - 3500 B.C.)

The first evidence of this age was the human settlement in the UAE region. Remains of Bedouin communities were found. These communities lived on fishing and collecting plant.  There were also several mass graves in Jebel Al Buhais in Sharjah and tools and spearheads in Dalma and Marawah islands in Abu Dhabi.
This era was characterized by the emergence of pottery, as evidenced by the numerous finds in Sharjah, Umm al Quwain, Ras al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi.  It is believed that such finds date back to what was called the Ubaid period, part of the Neolithic Age, and dates back to the sixth millennium B.C.

2. UAE Civilization in the Bronze Age (3200 B.C. - 1300 B.C.)

This Age is divided into three periods:


A - Jebel Hafeet Period


This period extends from 3200 B.C. to 2500 B.C. and was so named, because of the tombs found in Jebel Hafeet near the Al Ain area in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
This period coincides with the booming copper industry.  A multitude of small and hive-shaped tombs were discovered in that region. Ruins of a huge agricultural settlement were found in the Al Ain area, suggesting that people made a living from growing corn and wheat crops.
The most important ruins discovered from this age are the mass graves and the ancient settlements at Jebel Hafeet and the Hili area in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, as well as the mass graves in Jebel Emalah near Al Dhaid area in Sharjah.


B - Umm al Nar Period


This period extends from 2500 B.C. to 2000 B.C. It was named as such after the discovery of the ruins on Umm al Nar Island in Abu Dhabi in the mid-Nineteen Fifties.
About forty mounds, many round tombs and several mass graves were found at the Umm al Nar sites.  Near these tombs, ruins were also found of a settlement with stone houses and stone utensils similar to funeral tools. Other tools, used in cooking, were also found. All of these provide evidence that these houses date back to the same period of the tombs.
Archaeological missions found a house that had seven rectangular rooms.  Pottery fragments of Red utensils, bones of cattle, fish, turtles and camels as well as copper tools were also found.  These artifacts show how the people of that period were dependent on fishing.
The Umm al Nar period represented the apex of the Bronze Age civilization as it established solid trade links with the Mesopotamian civilization and Harappan Civilization in the Indus Valley (now Pakistan).  Its mass tombs are large, circular and made of stone.  There are more than 200 graveyards belonging to that period in different parts of the UAE.
Archaeological missions discovered ruins, similar to those of Umm Al Nar, in the Northern Emirates such as Al Muwaihat in Ajman, Alabrak in Umm al Quwain, Bidya in Fujairah, Kalba in Sharjah and Shamil in Ras al Khaimah.


C – Wadi Suq Period


This period extends from 2000 B.C. to 1300 B.C. and was named after one of the sites in Wadi Suq, between Al Ain and the Omani coast.  The most important archaeological discoveries in this period are a number of tombs, spearheads, pots and gold and silver jewelry in Shamil in Ras al Khaimah, Khorfakkan and Jebel al Buhais in Sharjah and Al Qusais in Dubai.
These finds indicate that such a civilization saw setbacks in this period, possibly due to harsh climatic changes or to the end of the copper trade with Mesopotamia.


D - UAE Civilization in the Iron Age (1300 B.C. - 300 B.C.)
This age extends from 1300 B.C. to 300 B.C.  The archaeological finds show us that the UAE area during this Age was at the apex of its prosperity and civilization.  It was characterized by the introduction of falaj irrigation systems that enabled the extraction of groundwater for continuous cultivation in the dry climate. This period witnessed the first appearance of writing. There are 24 archaeological sites belonging to this Age in the UAE.
The most important archaeological discoveries of this Age are villages that used falaj irrigation system in the areas of Rumaila and Qarn bint Saud in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Althegaibah and Umm Safat in Sharjah, and the large, fortified settlements in Muwaileh and Tell Abraq in Umm al Quwain and Sharjah.