View Full Version : How and where the bodies were buried: an ancient UAE mystery revealed

05-18-2016, 04:53 PM
The bodies in the grave unearthed by Sophie Mery’s archaeological team in Umm Al Quwain may be the product of extreme violence, but thanks to the grave’s age and the way that its contents were ritualised, that burial place of four men has become an object of rare beauty and enlightenment.

The earliest finds uncovered at UAQ2 date to the 6th millennium BC, which make the site the oldest Neolithic coastal settlement to have been discovered on the southern shores of the Arabian Gulf. It was among the oldest layers that Ms Mery’s team made their remarkable discovery.

In a pose reminiscent of an Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic motion study, the bodies in the grave lie united in a chain of death.


"The size of the pit indicates that it was made for the bodies at one time, and the very careful arrangement of those bodies in a chain of death must have been very symbolic," Ms Mery says.

"In the chest of the first man we found a flint arrowhead, which at the point of impact had destroyed his ribs, while two of the other men, who were interred later, had pearls placed at the level of their hips.

"The fact that we found these pearls grouped together, two pearls with one of the men and three pearls with the other, means that they were probably wrapped in a piece of textile or in a small bag."

For Ms Mery, the fate of the men in the grave sheds important light on the life of the communities who inhabited the coast up to 7,500 years ago.

"This Neolithic tomb is totally different from the early Bronze Age, or Umm an Nar tombs in the region which were collective graves," the archaeologist explains.

"Those were monuments that could be opened and reopened and in some cases had as many as 700 bodies deposited in them over a period of 200 years."

Thanks to the discovery of later finds and subtle details that distinguish these from material discovered at nearby sites, Ms Mery believes that the UAQ2 grave is evidence of inter-group violence.