Remnants of an Ancient Civilisation

At the foot of Jebel Hafeet’s eastern slope, just outside Al Ain, 5000 year old tombs lie scattered across the harsh dry landscape.Forgotten piles of stone that once housed the bodies of early Bronze Age people, are now only a vague remnant of a civilisation long forgotten. Hundreds of them have been excavated and a small group has been restored to show what they originally looked like and how they were built.

It was towards these we were heading recently with only a vague indication of location. I have seen a couple of pictures during my Google searches, so I had a fairly good idea what to be on the look-out for. We headed towards the Mezyad border post, and on a hunch turned off where there was a clear road over the berm that lies between the main road and the mountain. We kept following faint tracks past little camel farms, allowing our internal compasses and feelings of luck guide us.

The landscape is vast, flat, and rock strewn, while an energy of desolation cloaks it. We stumbled upon the lifeless body of a car resting on its roof, and the bleached remains of a camel. Punctuation marks in an environment that can be brutal to its inhabitants.

Jebel Hafeet Tombs

On the horison nestling close to a concave excavation the colour of honey-comb, we saw what we thought look like man-made structures, so we headed that way.

Jebel Hafeet Tombs

On the way we paused for a brief encounter with some curious camels slowly strolling past, grazing on specks of green in this otherwise monochrome landscape.

Camels 1

Our eyes did not play tricks on us, and we marveled at the relative ease with which we found the tombs. The weather was perfect for poking around and simply reveling in the pervasive silence that comes as a result of human absence. It was only the soft cooing of pigeons in the rock face that indicated any other form of life. We had the place to ourselves and lingered for a long time, soaking up the silence and warmth of the sun.

Jebel Hafeet Tombs

Directions: Head towards the Mezyad border post, and turn right at the roundabout with the Oasis International School on your right (N 24° 2′ 40.9″  E 55° 50′ 31.8″). Cross over the berm and follow the vague tracks that will lead you past camel farms on your right towards the mountain.

GPS co-ordinates for the tombs: N 24° 2′ 43.2″  E 55° 48′ 02.5″

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