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Hili sites

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Hili - a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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The Hili archaeological sites offer a glimpse into Al Ain’s Bronze Age and Iron Age, through ancient tombs, settlements, forts and irrigation systems
The Hili archaeological sites are one of the best-known sites of the United Arab Emirates, with  Bronze Age (3000-1300 BCE) and Iron Age (1300-300 BCE) settlements, tombs and irrigation systems. The country’s earliest evidence of an agricultural village is found at Hili Site 8, dating to 3000 BCE.

The period between 2500 and 2000 BCE is called the ‘Umm an-Nar’ era, after the island off the coast of Abu Dhabi where artefacts from this period were first found. During this era the settlement at Hili expanded and numerous buildings and monumental tombs were constructed.

Bronze Age

One of the most imposing monuments is the Hili Grand Tomb, located in the Hili Archaeological Park. More than 4,000 years old, the structure is 12 metres in diameter and must have originally been at least four metres tall with a roof. When the building 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 UAE, the tower was found to have a thick circular wall, within which were several rooms served by a central well. Only the foundations of this building remain today.

A similar structure, Hili 10, is also located in the park and also has a well at its centre. Its three metre-wide circular wall suggests that it was once a stronghold, perhaps controlling trade routes across the region.

Iron Age

The Hili area also features a falaj irrigation system, which used ground-level and underground water channels to bring water from the nearby mountains, and the remains of several villages, all from the Iron Age.

Excavation of one of the houses at Hili Site 17 showed this village may have been involved in pottery production. The house walls were built of mud bricks and still stand several metres high.

Another site, Hili 2, contains many houses with well-preserved walls, some standing two metres tall. Large storage jars found inside indicate a prosperous community, possibly due to the presence of the nearby falaj irrigation system.

 

For more information on Hili Archaeological Site click here.

Timeline

3000 BCE - 600 BCE

3000 BCE

The earliest known example of an agricultural village in the United Arab Emirates flourishes at the Hili site.

3000 BCE

2500-2000 BCE

The settlement at Hili expands. A number of tombs and buildings, including the Grand Tomb, are constructed.

2500-2000 BCE

1000-600 BCE

Several Iron Age villages thrive. Houses are built in two villages and a falaj irrigation system is developed.

1000-600 BCE

1960s

A mudbrick tower, built during the Bronze Age, is excavated by Danish archaeologists at the invitation of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

1960s

1969-70

Hili Archaeological Park opens, providing visitors with access to some of the most interesting and important archaeological sites in the United Arab Emirates.

1969-70

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Did you know?

Hili Archaeological Park was established in 1969-70 by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to provide visitors with access to the excavated sites.

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Hili Sites

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Location Details

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Hili, Al Ain

Abu Dhabi

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Daily: 9:30 AM - 6:30 PM

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