Excavations by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) archaeologists have revealed stunning evidence for a 4,000-year-old trading post on Sir Bani Yas island off Abu Dhabi’s coast. The excavations focused on a stone-constructed building at a site on the island’s south-west coast.
Inside the building a number of fragmentary large jars were found. These jars were made in Bahrain around 4,000 years ago and belong to a time when the UAE, Bahrain, Iraq, and south Asia were engaged in intensive maritime trade with the jars transported through the Arabian Gulf by ships.
Although fragments of such pottery have been found before in the UAE, this is the first time that several complete examples have been discovered.
Links to Indus Valley
Wall of structure and Dilmun storage jar. (Courtesy: TCA Abu Dhabi)
One of the most remarkable finds was a stamp seal, probably made from steatite. This is an example of a famous ‘Dilmun Stamp Seal’. Dilmun was the ancient name for Bahrain and adjoining regions, and merchants used these stamps to authorize shipments of goods around the Arabian Gulf. A few examples have been found before in the UAE, but this is the first Dilmun stamp seal to be discovered from the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi.
TCA Abu Dhabi archaeologist Abdulla Khalfan Al Kaabi said: “The moment when we discovered the Dilmun stamp seal was very special. We immediately realized the important implications of this find. Holding this in our hands for the first time since a Bronze Age merchant had used it almost 4,000 years ago was a magical moment.”
The seal appears to show an animal and a human figure under the moon. The meaning of the seal is still a mystery but Al Kaabi and TCA Abu Dhabi colleague Ali Abdul Rahman Al Meqbali are researching it and comparing it to the other seals that have been found in the Arabian Gulf.