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Located some 20 km south of Al Dhaid and 50 km east of the city of Sharjah.
The site is located in an inland plane, west of the lower range of the Hijar Mountains. It lies some 20 km south of the modern town of Al Dhaid and 50 km east of the city of Sharjah.
The first excavations conducted at Mleiha were carried out by an Iraqi team in 1973, and since 1985 a French archaeological expedition in Sharjah has excavated the site annually until 1999. A local team from the Directorate of Antiquities of Sharjah has been systematically excavating at Mleiha since 1993.
The excavations have revealed significant discoveries such as:
Monumental tombs, multi chambered subterranean graves and tombs that contained camels and horses buried beside their master. Some of the camels were hybrids between the single humped dromedary and the two humped Bacterian camel. Of particular interest is a tomb where a camel had been buried alongside a horse, in close proximity to their master's tomb. The horse had been buried with its full harness consisting of ten golden discs (see the Golden Bridle and Trappings at the Sharjah Archaeology Museum).
Interesting structures have been found at Mleiha; these are either simple houses or large multi roomed buildings with large interior courtyards. A building with plastered flooring, which has been called "A Palace" was also found.
Of special interest is "The Fort", which is a rather large, almost square shaped building measuring some 60 x 55 metres. It consists a large interior courtyard, which might have been used as a place of refuge for the inhabitants, surrounded by a range of rooms from all sides. The fort was a multipurpose building, serving as a dwelling place, storage centre and metallurgical workshop. The fort was probably a centre of political power, as indicated by the presence of coin molds.
Excavations have shown that craft activities were carried out in specialized workshops, distributed within habitation sectors. Workshops specialized in metallurgy, bone and pottery were found full of manufacturing tools and residues.
Archaeological evidence shows that South Arabian inscriptions have been penetrating to the east coast and arriving at Mleiha since the third century BC. Grave stones inscribed with South Arabian together with other items bearing Aramaic inscriptions were found.
Excavations throughout Mleiha have produced a wide range variety of material. Glass, bronze, alabaster vessels, stone and gold beads, iron arrowheads and spear points were among the important items found at the site. Of special interest was a part of a bronze bowl bearing an incised scene, showing a lion facing a man who wields a shield and being attacked from behind by a second man holding dagger. The head of a horse is also visible, as is the name "Mara shams" in South Arabian script. A small bronze figurine, representing a male wearing a kilt and supporting a bird on his outstretched right hand, was also found.
Three coin molds were found at the site together with a large quantity of bronze slag inside the fort, suggesting that coins were being minted on site. A large number of coins were found. These are in denomination of Tetradrachmas, Drachmas and Obols, which have been introduced into Eastern Arabia and Mesopotamia by Alexander the Great and continued to be copied by his successors the Seleucids as well as by Arab rulers. In general, the coins bear on the obverse, the head of the Greek god Hercules, while the reverse bears an image probably of god 'Shamsh' sitting upon a stool holding a sceptre with a palm tree behind him.
Ceramic from Mleiha is abundant. A variety of types were recovered. Some of the pottery recalls Hellenistic types from eastern Saudi Arabia. Greek amphorae including stamped Rhodian handles bearing the magistrate's name 'Aristonos' along with that of the Rhodian month of manufacture 'Theomphorios' dating back to some time between 182 and 176 BC. Sherds of Greek black-glazed pottery were also found. The imported items attest to the fatc that Mleiha was a part of a long distance trade network.
(Text: Directorate of Antiquities, Department of Culture & Information of the Government of Sharjah)
Main institution for contemporary arts, organizer of the Biennial and other world class events.
March - June 2021. Curators: Okwui Enwezor, Hoor Al Qasimi. Theme: Thinking Historically in the Present, conceived by late Enwezor.