Al Dur Archaeological Site


Photo Credit: Flickr

Distance (From Ajman Bus Station): 27 Kms

Trip Duration (Including Travel): 1 Hour

Place Location: On Sharjah - Ras Al-Khaimah Highway

Transportation Options: Cab

Travel Tips: None

At a distance of 27 km from Ajman and 57 km from Ras Al Khaimah, Al Dur is an archaeological site located in the emirate of Umm Al Quwain, UAE. Situated just east of the main highway running from Sharjah to Ras al-Khaimah, it is the most important archaeological sites in UAE and among the prime places to visit in Ajman.

Also known as Ed-Dur or Ed-Dour, Al Dur is the largest pre-Islamic site in the emirates, comprising an area of some 5 sq. km. This coastal settlement overlooks Al-Beidha Lake and it has been dubbed 'one of the most significant lost cities of Arabia'. Archaeological excavations started here in the year 1973 and continue up to date. It is naturally surrounded by a series of high sand dunes that protect it from the northern offshore wind prevailing in the region.

Ed-Dur or Al Dur was first discovered by an Iraqi archaeological team in 1973 and dug in 1974. Subsequent digs have unearthed evidence of human habitation spanning the Ubeid period, Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Pre-Islamic period. Excavations of the site have revealed a square Fort: the sides were almost twenty meters long, with some round towers on the corners. Inside this fort, there is a semi-square building that consists of several rooms, as well as some coins and some potteries.

The site is characterized by a large number of funeral configurations and local stones residential buildings. Some 500 of these tombs have been excavated, with grave goods discovered including drinking sets, Roman glass, weaponry, pottery, jewellery and ivory objects. It is thought some 20,000 tombs are on the site in all. The most important building is the rectangle temple, which is located in a basin surrounded by sand dunes, particularly in both the East and South sides, where the piled sand helped keeping the temple intact. The rectangle temple is distinguished by two entrances. The largest one is located in the east, and on both sides, there are two terraces upon which might have been placed statues of two eagles found on the site. The external walls of the western door were covered with plaster and its entrances are surrounded by geometric decorations. As for the mass of large stones found in the centre of the building, it is likely referred to the period of Umm Al-Nar cemeteries. It has been described as an altar, while outside the building stand three other altars built of local beach rocks. This explains that religious rites such as sacrifices and vows played an important role in daily life.

In the vicinity of this building, a circular stone-paved well is found; its depth is approximately 6 meters. Many other discoveries were found in the temple such as a rectangular basin which was found near the north-east corner of the building on a broad base with an Aramaic inscription of nine lines, mostly damaged, with a sole obvious word 'sun', which indicates that this temple was used for the worship of the God 'Sun' in that period. The traces of fire lead us to assume that this temple has witnessed unknown religious rituals. This assumption resulted from a discovered burning pit of 2.70 m to 1.50 m areas, at the main entrance, with approximately one-meter depth.

Timings: 6 AM - 6 PM

Entry: Free