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March 20, 2023 8:21 am

Archaeologists Discover Oldest Pearl City in the Gulf in the UAE

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avatar by i24 News

A general view shows the area outside the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 23, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Christopher Pike.

i24 News – Archaeologists on Monday claimed to have found the oldest pearl city in the Persian Gulf on an island off one of the northern Sheikhdoms of the United Arab Emirates.

The artifacts found on the island of Siniyah in Umm al-Quwain, which was probably home to thousands of people and hundreds of houses, date back to the region’s pre-Islamic period in the late 6th century.

While earlier pearl towns have been mentioned in historical texts, this is the first time archaeologists claim to have physically found one dating to this early period in the entire Persian Gulf region.

“This is the earliest example of this type of pearl city characteristic of the Gulf,” said Timothy Power, associate professor of archaeology at the United Arab Emirates University. “It is the spiritual ancestor of cities like Dubai.”

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The pearl city is located on Siniyah Island, which protects the Khor al-Beida marshes in Umm al-Quwain, an emirate some 50 kilometers northeast of Dubai along the Persian Gulf coast. Archaeologists had already discovered on the island, whose name means “flashing lights,” an ancient Christian monastery dating back 1,400 years.

The city is located directly south of this monastery, on one of the fingers of the island, and extends for over 12 hectares. Archaeologists have found a variety of dwellings made of beach rock and lime mortar, ranging from cramped quarters to larger houses with courtyards, suggesting social stratification, Power said.

In the houses, archaeologists discovered loose beads and diving weights, which free divers used to descend quickly to the sea floor relying solely on their held breath.

The city predates the rise of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, indicating that its inhabitants were probably Christians. The Prophet Muhammad was born around 570 and died in 632 after conquering Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia.

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