Cylinder Seal Dates from the Bronze Age

(Staff Reporter)
Filed on March 2, 2009

ABU DHABI - Environmentalists have stumbled across a Bronze Age stone cylinder seal — the first such find in the Arabian Peninsula — buried in the deserts of the emirate’s western region.

GRM International, a team working for the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi, made the find while conducting soil tests, according to agency Secretary-General Majid Al Mansouri.

“This is an important find not only for Abu Dhabi but for the whole of the Arabian Peninsula. It emphasises the long history of human civilisation in this region and cross-cultural communication and trade with the region between the two rivers,” he said.

The seal is decorated with tiny carvings of women with their hair tied back in a plait, a stylised couch“We are collecting information on soil throughout the emirate to better understand our present and past environments. It is also helping us to understand what use man made of the environment in the past and how we can make sustainable use of it today.”

The seal is in the Jemdat Nasr style from Mesopotamia (Iraq) and can be dated to between 3100 BC and 2900 BC, according to an expert in Arabian archaeology, Prof Dan Potts, of the University of Sydney.

Other cylinder seals from the Early Bronze Age have also been found in the UAE but date to the later Umm Al Nar period, between 2500 BC and 2000 BC.

The find also indicates trade, probably by sea, between the UAE and the Northern Gulf.

The find is the first artefact from the Bronze Age, between 3100 BC and 1300 BC, reported in Al Gharbia.

“Virtually all of the reported sites from the inland deserts of Al Gharbia date either to the Late Stone Age, over a thousand years earlier than this find from Madinat Zayed, or to the Late Islamic period, covering the last few hundred years. There has been a gap in our knowledge of this period in Al Gharbia’s history...,” according to Peter Hellyer, who has been studying the archaeology of Al Gharbia for over15 years.

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