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History Through the Ages

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The Al Ain Museum is temporarily closed. More information will be available soon.

 

Al Ain Museum is the oldest museum in the United Arab Emirates and is a treasure trove of archaeological finds. It provides a glimpse into the traditions and culture of the country’s inhabitants, from ancient times through the pre-oil period. Some artefacts are up to 200,000 years old.

The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan established the Al Ain Museum in 1969 to house archaeological discoveries unearthed by excavations that began with Sheikh Zayed’s encouragement in the 1950s. An exhibition was displayed in Sultan Fort before the museum building was completed in 1971. The museum was originally housed in the Sultan bin Zayed Palace and was moved to its current location in 1971.

The current site incorporates the historic Eastern, or Sultan Fort, as a major attraction of the museum.

Al Ain Museum

The Museum Collection

The museum has three main sections – Ethnography, Archaeology and Gifts (items presented to Sheikh Zayed). The Archaeology galleries display artefacts from as far back as the Middle Palaeolithic Period (around 150,000 years ago), as well as artefacts from the Neolithic Period (starting 7,000 BCE), the Bronze Age (starting 3000 BCE), the Iron Age (starting 1300 BCE), and up to the Islamic period (starting 700 CE).   Highlights of the collection include stone tools from the Palaeolithic Period, imported Mesopotamian (modern-day Iraq) pots dating to 5000 years ago, locally manufactured exquisite jewellery dating back 4,000 years, copper and bronze weapons and large Iron Age pottery vessels. The Ethnography gallery deals with more recent UAE history, prior to the start of oil exploration in the 1950s. Through black and white photographs and objects, this section illustrates the way of life in the pre-oil period. Among topics covered are education, daily life, agriculture, sports, medicine and defence. The Gifts gallery houses some of the many presents that Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan received from foreign leaders and their representatives. These include a rock collected from the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission and presented to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan by the United States.  

The Eastern Fort



The Eastern, or Sultan Fort, was built in 1910 by Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan (r. 1922-1926), father of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The mudbrick structure features three corner towers that helped defenders protect the fort and also featured store rooms for wheat and dates. The 7-metre high walls are topped with ‘saw-tooth’ crenelated walls that gave protection to defending riflemen and archers. The majlis for receiving guests and conducting business was located inside the fort along the southern wall. The fort is one of a number of historic buildings associated with the increased influence of the ruling Al Nahyan family in Al Ain from the end of the 19th century onwards.
For more information on Al Ain Museum click here.

Did You Know?

Al Ain Museum was the first purpose-built museum in the UAE.

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Al Ain Museum

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Zayed bin Sultan Street, next to Al Ain Oasis

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