Archaeological ‘gems’ go on show as Sharjah museum marks 20 years

More than a hundred archaeological finds dating back to as early as the first BC and AD are on display for the first time in an exhibition that sheds light on ancient Sharjah’s trade history with India, the Roman Empire, and the rest of the East and the West.

Archaeological ‘gems’ go on show as Sharjah museum marks 20 years
More than a hundred archaeological finds are on display for the first time in an exhibition at Sharjah’s Archaeological Museum [Credit: Sharjah Archaeological Museum]
Dubbed “Our Monuments Narrate Our History: Twenty years of Archaeological Discoveries in Sharjah”,  this exhibition, together with the book ‘Sharjah Monuments Narrate Its History’, mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Sharjah Archaeology Museum and the launch of the first local archaeological excavation mission in 1993.

Opened on Sunday at the Sharjah Archaeology Museum, the exhibition — which remains open for the next six months — will showcase to the world how the ancient people of Dibba established communication with major trade centres throughout the ancient world, as well as how these discoveries have had an enormous impact on humanity’s knowledge of their origins and allowed archaeologists to rewrite the Emirate’s known history throughout the ages.

Shaikh Salem bin Abdul Rahman Al Qasimi, director of the office of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the exhibit with the director of the Sharjah Directorate of Antiquities Dr Sabah Jassem, and brought guests on a tour, showing them the exhibits ancient finds.

Dr Jassem, an Iraqi archaeologist heading the local team of five archaeologists, said that the archaeological team has experienced great success: “For 20 years, ceramics, jewellery and stone tools were used by early human migration from East Africa and settled in the middle of Sharjah as they headed later to India, Australia, Europe and even America. We are pretty sure of the date because we use Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) — a measurement of the last time the object was exposed to sunlight — which showed that the Al Faya finds dated 120,000 years, proving that migration in Sharjah was much earlier than the 70 years first believed.”

Professor Hanae Sasaki, an archaeologist from Japan and a specialist on pottery and Chinese porcelain, whose team has been working with Sharjah’s local team, told Khaleej Times that the special study on trading East and West showed that the discovery has stimulated and inspired the UAE to design locally, including the famous Julfar pottery in Ras Al Khaimah: “The many finds of porcelain and pottery in Sharjah has exposed the flourishing trading between East and West with Sharjah in the middle of the trade routes.”

Khalid Hussein, senior researcher at Sharjah Archaeology Museum and author of the book, “Sharjah Monuments Narrate Its History” — an overview of the discoveries that have been made in Sharjah over the past 40 years — said that the book was keen to document all the efforts of excavation missions in the emirate, whose discoveries have shed tremendous new light on Sharjah’s rich history, which has remained buried in the sand for thousands of years.

The book was also released by the Sharjah Museums Department on Sunday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Sharjah Archaeology Museum and the first local archaeological expedition.

Both the book and the exhibition tell of four stories about the archaeological finds and their significance, the first of which is that of human existence in Sharjah, evident by the new findings uncovered at the excavation site in Jebel Al Fayah in 2006 — a breakthrough that changed previous theories on the immigration of humans from Africa to the Arabian Peninsula.

The second story sheds light on the old beliefs of Sharjah’s ancient inhabitants with regard to life and death, and their belief in after-life, demonstrated by the burial of personal belongings along with their owners in the graves like jewellery, pottery and unique metal imported from other civilisations and countries.

The third story tells us of the history of Mleiha, once used as a port for trade convoys to import and export goods in the BC era. Through precious pieces discovered, Mleiha was shown to be an important trading post in the era of gum and incense coming from Yemen.

Dr Jassem said that the most remarkable finds are the stone head axes, “Suhailah”, dating back to the Paleolithic period, circa 1.5 million years; the Palace Mleiha dating back to first century AD, and the Paleolithic finds indicating that 7,000 years ago, ancient people of Sharjah had managed to manufacture tools sharp enough to pierce materials such as pearls, shells, and stones in order to make beautiful necklaces and jewellery.

Author: Lily B. Libo-on | Source: Khaleej Times [April 08, 2013]

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