Archaeological Sites in UAE |

Your Guide to Archaeological Sites in the UAE

The country boasts a rich history that dates thousands of years back

Posted on

14 July 2019

Last updated on 14 January 2020
Clarice Awa at ExpatWoman
by Clarice Awa
Archaeological Sites in UAE

Explore the UAE before it became today's modern marvel...

Despite being one of the world's fastest-growing nations, the UAE also boasts a rich history that dates hundreds of, even thousands of years back.

Much of this fascinating history has been buried over time but archeologists in recent decades have unearthed and preserved some traditional spots. Archeological discoveries in the UAE began during the 1950s and more and more historical finds are being brought to light.

SEE ALSO: Ancient Christian Church and Monastery in the UAE Reopens to the Public

If you want to delve deeper into the nation's history, here's a guide to the fascinating archeological sites across the UAE that you can visit.

Umm al-Nar / Umm an-Nar

  • Location: Sas Al Nakhl Island, Abu Dhabi
  • Estimated age: 2500 BCE and 2000 BCE

SEE ALSO: Archaeological Sites in Abu Dhabi

First discovered during the late 1950s by a Danish archeological team, Umm an-Nar shines a light on the region's culture and lifestyle during the Bronze Age. The area is home to well-preserved tombs and buildings, with some of the walls being lined with carvings of oxen, snakes, oryx, and camels. The buildings were used as houses and storage spaces.

Archaeological Sites in UAE

Jebel Hafeet Tombs

  • Location: Mazyad, Abu Dhabi
  • Estimated age: 3,200 BCE and 2,700 BCE

These domed Bronze Age tombs rest at the foot of Jebel Hafeet mountain. Burial artifacts as old as 5,000 years were uncovered such as beads, pottery, vessels, bronze objects, daggers, etc. and some of which are believed to have been traded in from Mesopotamia.

Baynunah fossil site

  • Location: Abu Dhabi
  • Estimated age: 6,000 years old

Fossils of prehistoric animals were found, such as ancient turtles and elephants.

The remains of a wild hunt of camels are preserved at the nearby Baynunah camel site, giving insight into the hunting lifestyle of the ancient inhabitants. The remains also provide a look into the camel's biology thousands of years before its domestication.

Bidaa Bint Saud

  • Location: Al Hili, Abu Dhabi
  • Estimated age: 1,300 BCE - 300 BCE

This area was active during the Iron Age as a caravan stop as well as a settlement of farmers who used a complex water system to deliver underground waters to the fields via a series of tunnels. The Falaj building is a large mud-brick hall that is believed by experts to have acted an administrative building to manage the water distribution in the community. Storage facilities were also found in the building with many jars.

The tombs in the area date back to both the Bronze Age and Iron Age. While they are dismantled now due to the passage of time, the chambers and narrow passages found in each heap suggest that these were tombs that had domed roofs. Unfortunately, the tombs weren't free from grave robbers in the past, however, archaeologists were still able to recover several artefacts such as pottery, arrowheads, beads, daggers, etc.

Archaeological Sites in UAE

Pictured: Bidaa Bint Saud site

Al Hilli Archaeological park

  • Location: Al Hili, Abu Dhabi
  • Estimated age: 3 BCE

Located north of Al Ain, the preserved ruins takes a look into the area's lifestyle during the Iron Age. The site has a series of settlements, water channels, and tombs, and the surrounding area was transformed into a public historic site and a public garden space for visitors to explore.

Church and Monastery of Sir Bani Yas

  • Location: Sir Bani Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
  • Estimated age: 7 CE - 8 CE

The oldest and only ancient church in the UAE, the church and monastery unveil how the Christian monks had lived in the area many years ago. Experts from the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey (ADIAS) found plaster crosses buried in the site, and the design of the monks' living quarters, courtyard, and the central building was like that of ancient European churches during the same time.

Jumeirah Archaeological Site

  • Location: Jumeirah, Dubai
  • Estimated age: 9 CE - 11 CE

Discovered during the late 1960s, the site was active during the Abbasid era and was used as a caravan stop connecting a trading route between Oman and Iraq. Historical artifacts found from the site such as coins, tools, pottery, and other traded goods can be viewed at the Dubai Museum.

Wadi Al Hilo

  • Location: Sharjah
  • Estimated age: Neolithic to Bronze Age

The name of the site means "Sweet Valley" based on its rich supply of fresh water and the soil's fertility. The area is believed to have been a place for metal production as archeologists discovered smelting furnaces, remains of workshops, and traces of ores like copper.

Archaeological Sites in UAE

Pictured: Wadi Al Hilo site


  • Location: Hatta, Dubai
  • Estimated age: Late 1700s

The mountain town of Hatta is a historical site that's abundant in lush plant life and water resources like springs. Centuries-old forts, towers, citadels, and the remains of a village are open for public viewing. The Hatta Heritage Village has been carefully preserved and reconstructed to present the culture and living of the local inhabitants hundreds of years ago. Bait Al Wali, the largest house in the settlement, was where the head of the village would live in and it's available for viewing. Historical experts uncovered garments, jewelry, arrowheads, pottery, and other items made of clay, leather, and copper.

Deemed as a natural paradise, the Hatta area makes for a spectacular getaway from the modern cities. Today, Hatta is open as a mountain biking, camping, and hiking destination for the public, making it a fantastic weekend itinerary.

Sieh Al Herf

  • Location: Al Salhiya Road, Ras Al Khaimah
  • Estimated age: 2,000 BCE

Following the discovery of this ancient site, the Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road project near it was halted in order to protect and preserve the finds. Archaeologists unearthed several old artefacts, tombs, as well as two graves - one shaped like a horseshoe, and the other is W-shaped.

Al Thuqaibah

  • Location: near Al Madam, Sharjah
  • Estimated age:1,300 - 300 BCE

A settlement in old Sharjah where the local springs and waters enabled the local inhabitants to flourish. The buildings consisted mostly of low-wall, wide shared spaces and archeologists found imprints of adult and children's footprints in the broken mud-bricks. However, experts say the settlement was eventually abandoned due to the harsh environments, as the local sandy weather would breach the houses clog up the underground water channels.

Archaeological Sites in UAE

Pictured: Al Thuqaibah site

The Shimal necropolis

  • Location: Shimal, Ras Al Khaimah
  • Estimated age: 2,000 BCE

The necropolis of Shimal contains the remains of many circular-shaped tombs that are protected by fences. If you go further down the road, you'll arrive at the foot of the hill where the Sheeba Palace once stood. Barely anything remains of the palace, however, you'll be able to find a few stone walls and wells left. Climb up the large stone stairs and visitors can also marvel at a splendid view.

Khor Fakkan

  • Location: Sharjah
  • Estimated age: 2 BCE

In the mid-1990s, a large ancient settlement was found nestled on the three mountains near the sea. The inhabitants had constructed stairs on the slopes of the mountains to facilitate building their homes, using stones, timber, and tree branches. The settlements had a variety of historical items including pottery, stone vessels, grinding and fishing tools, etc.



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