Archaeological work by a team of local and international experts has restarted after 30 years on a culturally and historically significant site in Al Ain which is reputed to be one of the earliest agricultural-based villages in the United Arab Emirates.
The site, Hili 8, located near Hili Archaeological Park in Al Ain, was first explored and excavated by French archaeologists in the 1970s and 1980s and provided tentative evidence for the beginnings of date, wheat and barley cultivation thousands of years ago.
The specially designed flotation machine which reveals the ancient crops grown by the inhabitants of Hili 8. (TCA Abu Dhabi)
Two of the Bronze Age tombs located near Hili 8. The people who lived at Hili 8 were buried collectively in these tombs. (TCA Abu Dhabi)
TCA Abu Dhabi archaeologist, Hamdan Rashed Al Rashedi, said: “I was happy to work at one of most important archaeological sites in Al Ain and a World Heritage Site. The excavation will help us better understand Hili 8 and the nature of life at that time. The team is very experienced in the region with the latest techniques and I benefited a lot from working with them.”
Early farm-based society
Excavations in progress at Hili 8 using a Total Station for the three-dimensional recording of all artifacts and archaeological layers. (TCA Abu Dhabi)
The team carefully cleaned the site and used a laser system to record in three dimensions the layers of soil and sand deposits that had built up in the area over the decades. This will enable a complete and accurate plan of the site to be eventually produced. The team also used the same system to record the many Bronze Age, 4,500-year-old tombs that exist in this area, so that a fuller picture of the Bronze Age landscape becomes apparent.
TCA archaeologists and foreign consultants discuss strategies and ideas before the excavation begins. (TCA Abu Dhabi)
Particular attention was placed on the recovery and analysis of microscopic plant remains from the site. Tiny burnt fragments of seeds are sometimes found on archaeological sites, but they can rarely be seen with the human eye. Soil in which the remains are contained is slowly floated in water and the ancient seeds float to the surface to then be analyzed by an archaeobotanist.