Archaeology

The United Arab Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has been a center of rich cultural history in the Middle East for nearly seven millennia. Located right at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf, it has been a valuable hub for trade and commerce with easy access to many popular trade routes over the centuries. The values, heritage and culture of this country have been shaped by this fascinating history. His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi is proud of this heritage, and he is working to develop a tourism industry to showcase the importance of this region over the course of human history. The ancient history of this area can be studied amongst the many archaeological sites that dot the country.

The oldest known history of Ras Al Khaimah dates back as far as 5,500 BC. This was known as the Ubaid Period. There are ruins containing remains of stone tools, beads and pottery. The expansive ruins are located near Al Jazeerah Al Hamra, and they contain evidence of trade between the neighboring peoples.

This ancient history of Ras Al Khaimah paved the way for the Haffet Period that included people who lived in the high mountains in contrast to the people of the previous period that lived near the ocean and in the lowlands. Eventually, around 2000 BC, the Umm al-Nar Civilization arose to establish the first true civilization in the area. This period was alive with trade between Mesopotamia and lands of south east of Iran.

The last Period of the prehistoric era is the Wadi Suq Culture Period. This era has given archaeologists a treasure trove of artifacts contained in the biggest cemetery of the time. The large graves were built above ground with limestone walls and were able to house 30 to 60 bodies. The people of that time buried personal items along with the bodies. This has allowed archaeologists to study the artistry of the pots, pans, beads and metal tools of these people.
During the late Bronze Age, the people of the region were building structures that were very common to Ras Al Khaimah and surrounding areas up until fifty years ago. This “arish” style of building has been excavated and studied in the Shamal area. This research has shown that the people of the time were probably doing some farming. Later, the Iron Age shows more intricate designs in the paintings and engravings on their pottery and other implements.

The last Periods before the introduction of Islam to the region are the Hellenic and Parthian Era between 300 BC – 300 AD. The southern and northern areas of Ras Al Khaimah are littered with grave sites from this time, and they are being investigated by the Antiquities and Museums Department.

This culturally significant ancient history of Ras Al Khaimah is being preserved through the efforts of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi. It is an important part of his people’s heritage, and a critical part of Sheikh Saud’s plan to boost tourism for his country.

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History

Ras Al Khaimah has a history that dates back over seven centuries, and it is one of the few places in the world that has been continuously populated for that many years. The country is a gold mine for archaeologists that are interested in the ancient history of the eras before Christ. But the periods after Christ were a vibrant time in this region. It is a time when Islam became a part of the culture and a part of the people of this land. His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Qasimi wants to promote this rich historical past through various tourism initiatives to Ras Al Khaimah. He feels that people from around the world would enjoy learning about the culture and history of this region.

The period around 300 AD was classified as the Sasanian occupation. This Persian culture was in power for about 400 years. This society developed much of the art, music and architecture of Persia in the region of Ras Al Khaimah. There are archaeological sites dating back to this period found on the island of Hulaylah and in Kush. One of the more interesting sites is of a Sasanian citadel that was used to control the farming areas of the region. This citadel demonstrates how the people had to either leave or transition as Islam took over the area. The Persian people of the region were allowed to transition to Islam gradually over time once the Islamic leaders seized control from the Sassanid Empire.

The next Era brought about the unification of the people under Islam. This was called the Abbasids Era in which trade with Asia was firmly established. Some of the historically interesting sites from this time are Al Khoush and Julfar. Digs in the ruins here show how important this area was to trade routes throughout this part of the world. Artifacts from all over have been found at these sites. This was considered the Islamic Golden Age due to the multitude of cultural achievements, the expansion of trade routes and the scope of their rule at the time. It lasted until the Mongols took over Baghdad in 1258. The Mongols did not directly overthrow the rulers of the time. They just forced their submission.

Time passed, and the period of the Later Islamic Era grew between the 14 and 19th centuries. The people began to settle along the coastline in an area called Julfar. The town had a large population and had structures built of mud bricks, and it was protected by a large wall. The trade routes began to return, and the area became well known for its fine pottery. Pottery was still being made in this part of the world up until just recently. The region was also the origin of “The Lion of Seas,” a famous Arab navigator named Ahmad Ibn Majid.

The importance of Ras Al Khaimah’s history to the rest of the world is well known, and that is why it must be preserved. His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Qasimi is on a mission to save this history for his people and the people of the world.

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7000 Years

The Emirate located right at the entrance of the Arabian Gulf, Ras Al Khaimah, has been a focal point throughout history. Its strategic location made it a popular spot to control. This is evident when you look at the eighteen castles, fortifications and towers that were built in this region over the centuries. His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi believes this rich history is important to the tourism industry of his country. Not only will this tourism bring more success to the region, it will help to rediscover and preserve this history for his people.

There are over seven thousand years of history in this region. There are archaeological sites throughout the country that are a testament to this rich culture. Some of the more interesting history has taken place within the last few centuries. During the eighteenth century, the Al Qasimi clan had established itself in Ras Al Khaimah as the preeminent power in the region. The Al Qawasem, the plural reference, not only controlled the United Arab Emirates region, but they also controlled islands in the Persian Gulf and lands on the opposite shores of the Gulf. This allowed them to control all trade coming out of the Persian Gulf. It is reported that the Qawasim was associated with the Persian Gulf Pirates of the century. There are many stories of bravery and conquest related to this group.

In the early 1800s, the British attacked the Qawasem hold on the Persian Gulf with their Navy, because they were seen as a threat to their ships and trade routes in the Indian Ocean. The British occupied Ras Al Khaimah for a couple of years until a treaty was signed that dealt with their past differences. With the transitions of various governments of the region, Ras Al Khaimah was sometimes independent and sometimes incorporated with other countries. In 1972, Ras Al Khaimah joined the United Arab Emirates. The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah has many great displays that chronicle the 19th and 20th centuries very well. It is a big draw for tourists to see traditional buildings and artifacts unique to this part of the world.

Aside from Ras Al Khaimah’s political history, one of the more interesting parts of this region’s history revolves around pearling. Archaeological evidence shows that pearl diving goes back 7,000 years to the beginning of this area’s past. The wealth that the pearl industry brought to the region over the centuries establish strong traditions that exist to this day. Pearling was never just another industry here; it became fully ingrained into the cultural fabric of Ras Al Khaimah. Pearling was done only via the traditional way of diving, and it was limited to those who had permission of the rulers. Sadly, the industry died with the introduction of cultured pearls and heavy taxation from India killed the industry off.

This rich heritage is being guarded by His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi for the benefit of his people. He also wants to share this history with others around the world through tourism to Ras Al Khaimah.

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This rich heritage is being guarded by His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi for the benefit of his people.

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