Sheikh Mohammed discovered this archaeological site by accident in UAE desert

Estimated read time 2 min read

The Saruq Al Hadid Archaeological Site in Rub Al Khali desert, Dubai.

At the forefront of Dubai’s list of archaeological sites is one that was discovered by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum himself: The Saruq Al Hadid Archaeological Site (2600-550 BC).

While on a chartered plane over the Rub Al Khali desert in southern Dubai in 2002, Sheikh Mohamed scanned the vast dunes and noticed a change of colour in one particular area. The Dubai ruler ordered further investigation and experts found that the change in colour was actually slag, a stony waste matter that is separated from metals during smelting.

Why would there be slag in the middle of the desert? Sheikh Mohammed took this as a clue of life in this area during the Iron Age. The Dubai ruler dug further, knowing there must be something more under the sand. And so, the site was uncovered.

To date, the Saruq Al Hadid Archaeological Site is considered one of the most significant in the southeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, standing as a testament to the region’s rich history and cultural depth. Archaeologists have found evidence of over 5,000 years of activity.

The Saruq Al Hadid Archaeological Site is believed to have been a key centre for Iron Age metal smelting. Archaeologists found treasure trove of rare artefacts, including many unique gold and silver pieces, 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 and various local and foreign seals.

One of the gold items found at the site is the Saruq Al Hadid gold ring. It was this intricately designed gold ring that inspired the logo of Expo 2020 Dubai.

Now, visitors to Dubai have the chance to see this ring and other unique artefacts up close in the Saruq Al Hadid Archaeology Museum. Opened on July 3, 2016, the museum is actually the former home of Sheikh Juma bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, during the late 1920s. Nestled in the Al Shindagha Historical District of Dubai, it is dedicated to the discovery of the excavation site that dates back to the Iron Age. ICA/Expat Media


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