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Jebel Hafeet Tombs

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Bronze Age Necropolis

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Hundreds of stone beehive-shaped tombs at the base of Jebel Hafeet mountain tell a 5,000-year-old story of Al Ain’s early inhabitants 
Approximately 5,000 years ago, in the shadow of the steeply rising, 1,160-metre Jebel Hafeet mountain, early inhabitants of the Al Ain region chose its northern and eastern slopes for a series of tombs for their dead. Hundreds of tombs have been found in this area, with artefacts at the tombs showing trade links with ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), Iran, and the Indus Valley (modern-day Pakistan and India).

These Bronze Age tombs were built over a 500-year period between 3200 BCE and 2700 BCE, with the most prominent located in a necropolis along the eastern foothills. Other tombs are found along the crests of prominent hills and ridges leading northward from Jebel Hafeet toward Al Ain city, which lies approximately 20 kilometres to the north.
Jebel Hafeet

Tomb Architecture

Each domed tomb comprises a single round or oval chamber about 2 to 3 metres across and constructed of uncut or rough-cut local rock. One-, two- or three-ring walls encircle the chamber and rise to a height of 3-4 metres above the ground. The ring walls gradually slope inwards until they eventually meet forming a dome. A narrow entrance, usually facing south, pierces the wall at the ground level.
The Jebel Hafeet tombs generally contained the remains of two to five people, but could have contained more individuals. This is in contrast to the later Umm an-Nar burial sites on the Arabian Gulf coast, where hundreds of people were buried in a single tomb. In another contrast to Umm an-Nar, limited numbers of pottery vessels were generally found in each Jebel Hafeet tomb.

Burial Artefacts

The extent of trade with distant Bronze Age societies is reflected in the imported Mesopotamian pottery discovered in some of the earliest tombs. Beads also were found in the tombs, the most significant of which were small blue-green tubular beads, perhaps also from Mesopotamia. Another type of bead found at the tombs was made locally of stone shaped in flat and trapezoidal or square shapes.
Spearheads and daggers from the second millennium (2000 BCE to 1000 BCE) have been discovered in the tombs as well, alongside bronze and copper objects, and vessels made of soapstone.
Other objects indicate the tombs remained in use or were re-used in later periods, mainly during the Iron Age (1300 BCE-300 BCE). The phenomenon of Iron Age people reusing old burial sites was common in the region.

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The extensive necropolis and tomb building and archaeological remains of this area have provided a name for this era of early UAE history: the “Hafeet Period”.

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Hafeet Tombs

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