On Saturday morning my poor husband got dragged out of bed again for a pre-dawn excursion. This time he had to take me to Dhayah Fort, just north of RAK. We arrived before first light and had to navigate the stairs leading up the hill by the light of the moon.
Experiencing the first light of the day with a cup of coffee and a view that spans mountains, sea and palm groves is a great way to wake up. We watched a lone fox scrambling towards its burrow to sleep away the day and avoid any disgruntled farmers. The crowing of cocks not only signaled in the new day and reminded us that we were surrounded by small farms, but also helped to mask the sound of the traffic coming from the main road that runs all too near the fort.
Early morning human activity included the burning of organic matter and the watering of the date palm gardens. In between the feet of these beautiful trees the water glistened in the early morning light, while the desert clung to their tops, tinting their fronds a dusty green.
As the first rays of the sun started to creep over the town of Rams and the beach, we headed downhill to find other treasures in the form of the Wadi Suq Tombs and the pottery kilns that baked the famous Julfar pottery from the 15th century until as recent as the 1970s in Wadi Haqil. The emphasis here should be on finding, even though we had GPS co-ordinates to the places. Human activity carries on regardless of the past, and what one finds does not always look right at first. I feel like an adventurer every time we go “exploring” as I like to call it, especially because it is the closest I’ll ever come to my secret dream of being an archaeologist, while Michael has to, once again, in his words: “go look at rocks”.
We had to walk over a farmer’s land, while avoiding the playfulness of the goats being let out to graze in our search for the Wadi Suq Tombs. I only managed to find one of the tombs after climbing to a vantage point, while Michael waved me over to indicate that he found the other one. As with most of these sites the rusty barbed wire keeps no-one out, especially not the goats. There is also no indication that what one is observing actually holds great archaeological value. Most of the artefacts from these tombs are now housed in the RAK museum, and having been excavated and documented, the tombs are left to melt into the landscape once more.
Our last stop was Wadi Haqil and the pottery kilns. We found a lot of deserted old stone houses where the potters lived, but no kilns! That is, until Michael spotted the “small mounds with distinctive red soil”. Although I love photographing decaying stone houses, I was very pleased to find these kilns, as it made me very aware that I was standing in the presence of an extended history of creativity. For a long time these kilns were the centre of activity and the daily bread of the potters who eked out a living in this harsh environment. Once upon a time there were real flesh and blood people with hopes and dreams that lived here. Now, only the ghosts from the past inhabit these spaces.
Dusty with history and an appreciation for the stark beauty of the landscape we headed home for a late breakfast, leaving the ghosts behind.
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Dhayah Fort: N25o 53’ 03.33” E56o 03’ 37.84”
Wadi Suq Tombs: N25o 52’ 32.00” E56o 03’ 23.00”
Pottery kilns in Wadi Haqil: N25o 49’ 14.00” E56o 02’ 51.00”