New evidence from excavations at the Iron Age settlement of Shimal (Ras al-Khaimah)
Keywords:Iron Age II, Settlement continuity, Cult, Metalworking, Regional Destruction
This paper discusses the results of the first new excavation season in the Shimal (Shamāl/Shimāl) area (Ras al-Khaimah/Rās al-Khaymah). The Shimal plain has shown favourable conditions for settlement throughout time. The area has long been known for its important Bronze Age settlement and tombs, with continuity into the early Iron Age (Vogt & Franke-Vogt 1987). Nevertheless, the Iron Age II period has so far been less visible in the area, with sparse evidence from disturbed shell middens and reuse of certain tombs. Recent surveying ‘rediscovered’ an important area of multiple low hills rich in Iron Age surface material. New excavations in this area have so far unearthed two building units, with multiple phases of Iron Age II and possibly Iron Age III–pre-Islamic recent (PIR) occupation. The lowest phase reached so far in one of the buildings attests to a conflagration. Secondary evidence of copper working was found in and around these buildings. Together with ceramic vessels including snake appliqué, this suggests these structures might not have been strictly domestic but resemble contemporary cultic buildings elsewhere in the Emirates (Benoist 2007). These finds call for a comparison with the contemporary settlement evidence in the region. The possible relation with a wider destruction episode at the end of the Iron Age II will also be reviewed.
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