Mleiha: Learn how to be an archaeologist – for free

Mleiha is one of region’s most important archaeological sites

SHARJAH 27 June 2017: The role of archaeologists in revealing the mysteries of Sharjah’s past is being celebrated at a year-long exhibition at Sharjah Archaeology Museum.

Opening this month, the Sharjah Archaeologists Exhibition provides visitors with a fascinating insight into how archaeologists go about excavating a site and documenting their finds. Displays reveal their scientific working methods, as well as the commonly used tools of the trade, including trowels, measuring instruments, and note books.

The exhibition is a tribute to a profession that has helped uncover the story of historical sites, including Mleiha, Sharjah’s iconic ancient settlement. Even today, archaeologists are continuing to reveal aspects of ancient civilisations that are thousands of years old, including their culture and rituals, trade practices, social order, diet, and influence on pottery design, art and jewellery.

A tomb discovered at Mleiha
A tomb discovered at Mleiha

Manal Ataya, Director-General of Sharjah Museums Department, said, “We are delighted to open the Sharjah Archaeologists Exhibition and draw attention to a profession that has done so much to piece together Sharjah’s ancient history.

She added, “Sharjah is proud to be home to Mleiha, one of the region’s most important archaeological sites. Thanks to the incredible skills and dedication of teams of archaeologists, we have been able to paint a picture of the civilisations that lived and settled in this area over thousands of years.”

“Visitors will gain a thorough insight into the working life of an archaeologist, as well as witnessing some of their most important finds from this area. We aim to inspire a new generation to be the historians and archaeologists of tomorrow and continue unravelling the UAE’s rich history,” she said.

The UAE’s ancient history was largely undocumented until about 50 years ago when archaeologists began excavation works at key sites. The evidence they found indicates human activities taking place from some 125,000 years ago.

The Wadi Caves at Mleiha
The Wadi Caves at Mleiha

Visitors to the Sharjah Archaeologists Exhibition will learn how archaeologists look for evidence of objects left by humans of the past, including hunting tools, weapons, domestic items and jewels. They also seek to uncover such immovable objects as houses and tombs, and even the remains of plants and seeds.

The displays reveal the science behind excavating a site, how it is initially surveyed using photographs, maps and state of the art monitoring devices, how items are marked with identification cards that show the discovery date and location, along with information including its shape and material. The steps taken to protect delicate finds, especially human skeletons from thousands of years ago, are also revealed.

Part of the exhibition is dedicated to actual finds made in Sharjah. These include a Roman glass molded bowl that originated in Dibba in 100AD, and a number of gold beads that were dated back to Mleiha in the same period.

By Angel Chan