Skip Menu Navigation

Dubai Culture and Arts Authority
FREE - On the App Store

Hamburger Menu
What's On
About Us
26 May, 2024

Archaeological Sites in Dubai uncover treasures of 300,000+ years

Dubai has over 17 significant archaeological sites that represent the rich and long-standing history of the region as well as the emirate’s essence, culture, and heritage. Archaeological surveys done over the years in Dubai have unearthed a wealth of sites including Saruq al-Hadid, Al Sufouh, Jumeirah, Al Ashoush, among others, revealing the emirate's ancient civilizational roots that stretch back over an astounding 300,000+ years. From the Lower Palaeolithic (1,500,000-300,000 BC) to the Neolithic period (8000-4000 BC), and up to the late Islamic eras (19th century AD), these sites bear witness to the enduring legacy of Dubai's historical inhabitants and their interactions with others in the Near East.
The archaeological sites across the emirate, managed by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), are testimonies to the cultural tapestry of the region and a source of invaluable knowledge for both researchers and the public, playing a pivotal role in preserving the archaeological heritage of Dubai. Dubai Culture remains committed to safeguarding the archaeological assets and maintaining and enhancing access to these sites, ensuring they continue to educate and inspire future generations about the historical significance and cultural depth of the emirate, which contributes to consolidating the emirate’s position on the global heritage map.
At the forefront of this list of archaeological sites under the mandate of Dubai Culture is the Saruq al-Hadid Archaeological Site (2600-550 BC), a discovery made in 2002 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai. This site, one of the most significant in the southeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, is believed to have been a key centre for Iron Age metal smelting. The excavation yielded a treasure trove of rare artefacts, including bronze, pottery, and stone vessels, as well as weapons such as daggers, swords, axes, bronze and iron arrows, decorative shells, thousands of beads made of precious and semi-precious stones, various local and foreign seals, and many unique gold and silver pieces. This site stands as a testament to the region's rich history and cultural depth.
The Islamic Era Jumeirah Archaeological Site (900-1800 AD), discovered in 1969, dates back to the Abbasid Caliphate era, and includes the remains of an ancient Islamic city reflecting the prosperity of Islamic civilisation during the 10th century. It includes 12 archaeological buildings, nine of which are residential, in addition to a caravanserai, a mosque, and a market. These buildings are characterised by their Islamic architecture and the geometric and floral gypsum decorations adorning the facades, doors, and windows. This site highlights the Jumeirah area's vital role as a major commercial hub between Oman, the Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia, and the Far East.
Al Sufouh Archaeological Site (2500-2000 BC), discovered in 1988, contains remains of a settlement dating back to the third millennium BC. During the excavations conducted at the site between 1994 and 1995, three earth-cut tombs dating to the Umm Al-Nar civilisation period were found. Therein contains a circular tomb built of trimmed stone blocks, with a diameter of up to 6.5 meters, constructed according to the method of the time. Numerous skeletal remains, copper weapons, stone and pottery vessels, as well as beads, shells, and cylinder seals were also unearthed.
The Al Ashoush Archaeological Site (3rd Millennium BC) is considered one of the unique archaeological sites discovered in the inland desert area of Dubai, representing early evidence of human settlements in remote spaces away from the Arabian Gulf coast. The Al Qusais Archaeological Site (2500-550 BC), brought to light in the 1970s, contains a large settlement dated to the Bronze and Iron Ages, including a cemetery with about 120 individuals and communal graves, in addition to hundreds of artefacts such as metal weapons, pottery and stone vessels, jewellery, beads, shells, and models of snakes made of bronze.
The Margham Archaeological Site (1300-600 BC), discovered last year, contains a semi-circular-shaped tomb resembling the architectural design of the Hafit era (3200-2500 BC). The tomb includes a chamber measuring 1.6 meters in length and up to 96 centimetres in width, containing a skeleton surrounded by several funerary gifts, including softstone bowls, flintstone cores, and a small cup made of bronze, in addition to 10 bronze arrowheads.
The list also includes various sites in Hatta which include Jabal Al Yamh Tombs (2500-1300 BC), where archaeological surveys have documented and recorded 84 tombs scattered beneath the mountain slopes, characterised by their architectural style belonging to the eras of the Hafit, Umm Al Nar, Wadi Suq, and Iron Age civilizations. Numerous artefacts such as pottery vessels, soft stone vessels, decorated shells, copper rings, carnelian, faience, stone, and glass beads were found, revealing significant historical information. Around 29 tombs have been restored so far, while Dubai Culture is currently working on a comprehensive conservation plan for the rest of the findings on site.
The list in Hatta includes archaeological sites dating back to the late Islamic Era (17th - early 19th century AD), represent an important period in Dubai's ancient and modern history. The Suhaila Archaeological Sites contain several different villages sharing similar architectural elements and building methods, reflecting the social life prevalent at that time. Additionally, the Hatta ‘Islamic Village’ is a group of houses and a mosque located on a high hill. Its architectural design is characterised by support walls and retaining walls dating back primarily to the 17th to the 19th centuries AD. This place serves as a model for the lifestyle of some residents of Hatta during the late Islamic Era.
The Wadi Jima Site comprises an Islamic agricultural village dating back to the late Islamic Era, consisting of residential buildings and distinctive agricultural terraces containing a network of complex irrigation channels. The significance of this site lies in its architectural elements combining houses and large agricultural terraces, as well as its valuable engineering represented by support walls, retaining walls, and dams designed to control rainwater.
The Supreme Committee to Oversee the Development of Hatta supports various initiatives as part of a comprehensive roadmap to preserve its archaeological sites. This includes restoration and rehabilitation projects aimed at preparing these historical assets to welcome visitors. Through its projects and initiatives in this sector, Dubai Culture seeks to conserve archaeological sites and assets and highlight the importance of valuable artifacts due to the cultural and knowledge references they constitute, in addition to developing the infrastructure for sustainable cultural tourism and enhancing scientific research cooperation at the local and international levels.