Hili Archaeological Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Hili Archaeological Park offers a glimpse into Al Ain’s Bronze Age and Iron Age past, through tombs, houses, strongholds and irrigation systems
Hili Archaeological Park is one of the best known archaeological sites in the United Arab Emirates. The park is part of the Hili Cultural Site and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Al Ain. It contains Bronze Age (3000-1300 BCE) and Iron Age (1300-300 BCE) villages, burial grounds and agricultural infrastructure.
In the period between 2500 and 2000 BCE, the settlement at Hili expanded. This period is called the ‘Umm an-Nar’ period after the island off the coast of Abu Dhabi where remains of this culture were first found.
The largest collection of tombs and buildings from this period in the United Arab Emirates is at Hili. Some of these Bronze Age structures are accessible within the Hili Archaeological Park.
One of the most dramatic buildings from this period is the Grand Tomb. More than 4,000 years old, the structure is 12 metres in diameter and must originally have been at least four metres tall with a roof. When the structure was restored in the mid-1970s, it was left unroofed.
Next to the Grand Tomb is Hili Site 1, once a tower built from mud bricks that would have stood several metres high. When it was excavated in the 1960s by Danish archaeologists at the invitation of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the United Arab Emirates, the tower was found to have a thick circular wall, within which were several rooms, served by a well in the centre. Only the foundations of this building remain today.
A similar structure, Hili 10, is located nearby and also has a central well. Its three-metre wide circular wall suggests that it was once a stronghold, perhaps controlling trade routes across the region.
For more information on Hili Archaeological Site
3000 BCE – 600 BCE
The earliest known example of an agricultural village flourishes at the Hili site.
2500 BCE - 2000 BCE
The settlement at Hili expands during this period. A number of tombs and buildings, including the Grand Tomb, are constructed.
1000 BCE - 600 BCE
Several Iron Age villages thrive during this period. A number of houses in two villages are built and a falaj irrigation system is developed.
A mud brick tower built during the Bronze Age is excavated by Danish archaeologists at the invitation of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Hili Archaeological Park opens, providing visitors access to some of the most interesting and important archaeological sites in the Hili area.
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