Archaeological MuseumWHAT IS ARCHAEOLOGY ?
A hall with the board reading "What Is Archaeology" is the first place to welcome you in the museum. Here the visitor gets a general idea about the concepts of archeology as a science, as well as all related surveys and excavation archaeological operations. A large top-view map locates all the archeological excavation sites in the Emirate of Sharjah. A model of a completely excavated residential house stands in the middle of the hall. The front side view shows the cross sectional excavations through which we can see the thickness of the walls, the method of building and materials used. Some of the excavation machines and equipment are on display.
Visitors are then welcome to another large exhibit hall to watch a film which tells that archaeology intends to uncover the realities in order to shed a new light on our perception of the past and our relative present attitude. The film shows the archeological operations and the stages of exploration, film shooting, recording, processing and restoration of the archaeological items, using up-to-date techniques.THE STONE AGE
Most of the early archaeological excavation sites belong to this First Stage and are located on the UAE coastal stretches. The exit to this hall leads the visitor to several other halls connected with each other. Some of the displays in these halls date back to this first stage of known history referred to as the Stone Age, and include numerous flint pieces, giving information on the technology of that period, old sea shells and how man was fed on them as he was eating the flabby animal found in them. The displays include also the ornamental items of that period, gems, pottery of the Obaid period that were found in Al Hamriyah which confirms the trade exchange with Mesopotamia (present Iraq). Also there are models of skeletons from Al Buhais area.
About 16000 years ago, sea levels globally started to go up. Before that, the area forming the present Gulf region used to form a long valley, reaching Hormuz Traits. When the sea settled back to its present level, a varied range of coastal areas was formed around the seashores, including the flat sand and clay areas stretching from the Gulf and the coastal line tangent to Musandem Cape, as well as the coastal line, stretching to the Eastern Coast, form Kalba to Deba. Rich with qurum trees, the Coastal settlements had an important characteristic, still noticed in Kalba inlet. These coastal settlements were of certain attraction to the early settlers, thanks to their easy accessible riches of food, including fish shells, fish, tortoises and seacows. Qurum trees themselves are an environment of good attraction to huntable sea birds, where neighbouring internal areas provide chances for deer hunting and convenient grazing pastures for sheep, goats and cattle in general.
The archaeological findings left by those early coastal societies included settlements distinguished by huge accumulations of seashells, usually caught for consumption. Seashell humps are almost found on the extentions of the previous inlets of the Gulf region, as Hamriya region in Sharjah with south Iraq. The Obaid Period potteries found in UAE excavation sites seem to be imported from South Iraq at that early period. Though the evidence does not confirm whether these potteries had been directly or indirectly imported, yet it does suggest that the Gulf Coastal residents were professional tradesmen.
The visitor to this hall can also see human skeletons explored in Buhais mountain area. In fact, these were just a few of some hundred human skeletons found inside a human settlement, dating back to the pre-history period. Results of radiant carbon 14 analysis date these skeletons back to the fifth millennium BC, which means that they represent the most ancient human settlement ever discovered south-east the Arabian Peninsula. The visitor will also see types of the different stone industries, including spear and arrow heads. Moreover, the hall is also equipped with computer systems to help the visitor have access to more information.THE BRONZE AGE
This second stage establishes the existence of the population in Sharjah, and the area in general was known to have a different settlement, as agriculture and grazing flourished and professions increased. A film on this stage is on display in the hall besides some archaeological ornamental findings of the period such as pottery, metals, soft stones and some jewelry. On display also is a miniature model showing the method of burial, seen at Jebel Al Buhat (Al Buhais area) and a house model from the Khor Fakkan area.
As the third millennium BC draws near, evidence to the restoration of relation with Mesopotamia becomes available. As the fourth millenium BC came to end, old Mesopotamian scripts pointed a place called Delmon. Towards the end of the third millenium, about 2330 BC, the name Delmon was mentioned in two other places: Majan and Melokha. These three places (Delmon, Majan and Melokha) supplied the city-states of south Mesopotamia with a wide range of raw material and imported goods, made up of wood, stones and copper ore.
Not long far away, the Wadi Souk period has been believed to end about 1700 BC and to be. The Name "Delmon" was often used to refer to the island in Bahrain and the neighboring area in Saudi Arabia, while the term "Majan copper mountains" was defined to be the region extending south-east the Arabian Peninsula, which coincides with the territory of present United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman. The third place, Melokha, generally coincides with the Sind valley area.
The renewed communications with Mesopotamia, clearly noticed in the explored archaeological findings dating to the fourth millenium B.C. in the UAE and Oman, is considered an early evidence to the developed trade relations between Majan and the then neighbouring countries, described in the Mesopotamia scripts seven hundreds years later. The evidence includes potteries found in a number of graves imported, again, from Mesopotamia. The graves are of a unique type of which present UAE and Oman were then exclusively distinguished in the region. These graves have the shape of a big pile of stones, often located at the mouths of vallies in the form of clear big accomulations. They provide an evidence for the propable allocation of settlements.
By the year 3000 B.C., agriculture had its foundation; wheat, barley and dates were cultivated. With the introduction of the grazing cattle of sheep and goats at an earlier stage, as appeared on coastal sites, settlements were stabilized in several internal locations, wherever an abundance of water was available for irrigation purposes.
There is also an evidence that the agriculture-based economy of the oasis was introduced in this period which was followed by the Oasis Stage that helps the visitor to view and study the nature of the desert and the oasis. He may also use the computers to find out additional information.
However, in the UAE and Oman, the 2500-2000 B.C. period of this stage is often referred to as the period of Umm Al Nar. The name is borrowed from a small island near Abu Dhabi, where archaeological excavations carried out by a Danish team proved, for the first time, the existence of this period. A new development of this period is the introduction of a different type of graves. The typical grave of the Umm Al Nar period is distinct by its circular shape, with engraved drawings on its external side. These drawings are of wild animals such as deer and snakes as well as tamed cattle.
Other drawings presented camels, which show that camel taming could have started at this period. Excavations in Hili, Tel Al Abraq and Khor Kalba showed that settlements of this period were featured with huge defensive towers. Such towers could have probably been built as early as the start of the third millenium as well. So, they represent a long dated local tradition. A 14 metre diameter grave, belonging to the Umm Al Nar period, was recently explored at the Maleeha site in the Sharjah Emirate.
Pottery and other big industries prospering since the third millenium started to produce local potteries in Umm Al Nar. Stone pot industry was typical of the period and was used on a large scale, not just locally, but also in places such as south Iraq, Bahrain, Iran and India. The distribution of the imported and exported items reflects the trade communication web mentioned in the Mesopotamia scripts, towards the end of the third millenium B.C.
Modern excavations suggest that many settlements from the third millennium continued during the second millenium. Moreover, grave building and the production of potteries and other items had undergone certain basic alterations. (Wadi Souk period 2000-1300 B.C.). The distinguished Umm Al Nar graves were replaced by an under ground new type of graves, the graves excavated in Al Buhais mountain and Khur Khalba.
In this hall the visitor will see the most prominent explorations achieved by the Local Archaeological Excavation Expedition in Al Buhais mountain. These excavations are represented by a wide range of pottery utensils with decorations and soft static-stone-made pots, as well as another wide range of copper/bronze heads for arrows and spears, in addition to some samples of explored graves, all dated back to the Wadi Souk period of the second millenium BC
The visitor to the hall can watch a film that shows the increased complications in the life style of the semi-nomad population. Here we see the plantation of barley, wheat and palm trees and the copper and bronze arrow head industry, as well as the ornament items, utensils, knives and potteries, most of which were and exchanged trade with Mesopotamia, Yemen and Iran.THE IRON AGE
This period is the third stage known as the Iron Age. The first thing you see in the covering this period hall is a film that gives a detailed information on the general manner of life in that stage. Some samples of housing units in that important period are displayed: a housing unit from Al Thuqaibah area. Displays in this hall also include some very important pieces of soft stones - unique shape and geometry wise - and pottery in addition to some metallic equipment, used by the people of that stage.
It seems that the Iron Age had witnessed an increase in the number and size of settlements, probably due to the application of the Falaj System (a developed irrigation system to carry water from its source to the planted fields through underground canal web). This system helped the development of several previously unplantable areas, as well as the increase of planted areas. As a result, the sites of the Iron Age spread out through the region of present United Arab Emirates and Oman. And, as expected, there had been a large and diversified number of sites, as man continued settling in the coastal sites along the Gulf beaches, and a number of small villages existed along the course of the main valleys. Evidence of the existence of big villages built from adobe is also available, especially in Thuqaiba and Muwailih in the Sharjah Emirate. Samples of these houses are exhibited in the hall, in addition to various pottery and stone industries, as well as clay dolls and personal ornamentation items found in these sites.
Another film representing the life of the oasis population, who established a Gulf based economical system, is available to the visitor to watch in the hall. This economic system largely helped widening and developing the agricultural settlements and the existence of settled societies, which ultimately led to the appearance of trade and industries, copper industry, for instance.THE ADVENT OF ISLAM
This is the Historical Stage, or the Fourth Stage that includes most of the antiquities. It represents a remarkable civilized boom in Sharjah and the surroundings. The most interesting displays from this period include several models of the antiquities which have been found in the Sharjah Emirate, and samples of the weapons then in use, including arrow heads, spears and daggers. Also on display in the hall that covers this period are several ornamentation materials in use during the period. It records the beginning of the appearance of writing in the area represented in the Southern Musnad Calligraphy (Southern Arabian writing found mainly in the Kingdoms of Yemen and used by the people of North-Eastern Arabia) and some Aramaic writings which were in practice in Maleeha, a district of Sharjah, and finally replaced the Southern Arabian writing which apparently disappeared at the advent of Christianity.
Among the most important displays at that stage was the matrix of money minting discovered in Maleeha for the Alexander-the-Great's currency. Other important discoveries included the horse which has been found in Maleeha, buried with all its golden ornamentation, next to its owner. Several samples for the housing units and the grave yards have also been added.
As early as 300 BC, region covering present UAE and Oman became included in the trade web connecting the entire Arabian Peninsula and linking the countries of the Mediterranean to those of the Indian Ocean. Yemen and Dhufar have then acquired a special importance as incense-supply sources. As incense was transported northwards via the western region of the Arabian Peninsula, this should in no way mean that the South-Eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula has become marginal.
Certain routes leading to Dhufar had no doubt exised. By the advent of the first century AD, marine trade had become widely spread, overwhelming the entire coastal line of the Arabian Peninsula. Maleeha site, south of Dhaid, was one of the main sites playing an important role in this trade. Settlement in this site dates back to the end of the Iron Age and continues through the next seven hundred years or more.
From the early stages of settlement, a special kind of clay - jars (Amphoras), imported from the Greek island of Rhodes, was found in this site, as well as small marble pots, probably made in Yemen, in addition to a series of other imported items. The site shows the existense of an important city of large graveyards containing monumental graves. An evidence of the last stages of settlement shows the existence of a big fort and a large graveyard with horses and camels burried next to their owners, as a part of the religious belief of that time. Another evidence showed that the city used to mint its coins in a special mintage of its own.
Another important site of the same period , Maleeha, which dates back to the first millenium, is the coastal site near Umm Al Qiwain Emirate. This site probably represents a port belonging to the internal societies of Maleeha. Mints of the same kind were found in Maleeha as well as some glass pots imported from the Mediterranean, and locally made potteries and other items imported to the Arabian Peninsula from such neighbouring countries as Iraq, Iran, India and East Africa.
Archaeological items explored at Maleeha area occupy most of the hall space. These items include samples of tower graves and residential houses. They also include some of the diverse archeological pieces gifted by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Federal Council, Ruler of Sharjah. His Highness bought them back after they had found their way abroad at some earlier time, and brought them back to their place of origin. The visitor can also see a film depicting scenes from the original civilization that notably flourished in the Arabian Gulf region, with certain concentration on the Maleeha site during the period of prosperity when houses, bakeries and industrial workshops were built.