Renewed excavations at Tell Abraq, Umm al-Quwain, 2019–2020 — insights into the site’s occupation from the mid-second millennium BC to the late pre-Islamic period


  • Michel Degli Esposti Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Federico Borgi
  • Maria Paola Pellegrino Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Simona Spano
  • Camille Abric Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Rania Houssein Kannouma Tourism and Archaeology Department, Government of Umm al Quwain


South East Arabia, Late Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, Tell Abraq, UAE archaeology


In late 2019, stratigraphic excavations were restarted in the eastern part of Tell Abraq, a multi-period site located immediately south of the capital town of Umm al-Quwain and divided between its Emirate and the Emirate of Sharjah. The site is known to have hosted continued human occupation between c.2500 BC and AD 300; within this wide range, the new research project aims specifically to focus on the Late Bronze Age/Iron Age I transition and possibly on the late pre-Islamic occupation of the site. During the first evaluation season in 2019 and more extensive excavation in 2020, relevant stratigraphic sequences were studied and a substantial building preliminarily dated to the early first millennium BC was discovered, which changes the picture of this phase of the site’s occupation. The first overview of these results is provided here.


Benoist A. 2002. Archaeological investigations in Fujairah 2000: A preliminary report. Lyon/Nanterre: CNRS [Report submitted to the Fujairah Tourism & Antiquities Authority.]

Bronk Ramsey C. 2009. Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 51/1: 337–360.

Carter R. 1997. Defining the Late Bronze Age in southeast Arabia: Ceramic evolution and settlement during the second millennium BC. PhD thesis, University College London. [Unpublished.]

Degli Esposti M. 2015. Iron Age seals from ST1 and Salut, central Oman. Egitto e Vicino Oriente 37: 133–147.

Degli Esposti M., Condoluci C., Phillips C., Tagliamonte E. & Sasso M. 2018. The Early Iron Age chronology in South East Arabia: A reassessment on the basis of Husn Salut excavations. Pages 371–382 in A. Avanzini & M. Degli Esposti (eds), Husn Salut and the Iron Age of South East Arabia. Excavations of the Italian Mission to Oman 2004–2014. (Arabia Antica, 15). Rome: ‘L’Erma’ di Bretschneider.

Döpper S. 2021. Die Gräber von Bat und Al-Ayn und das Gebäude II in Bat. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Genchi F., Fattore L., Nava A. & Maini E. 2018. The LCG2 complex at Dibbā (Musandam, Oman, II–I millennium BC): Structural, material, and osteological elements. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 48: 99–117.

Haerinck E. & Overlaet B. 2018. Mleiha (Sharjah, U.A.E.): The 2009 & 2012 Belgian excavation of mound AI − Pottery and chronology. Annual Sharjah Archaeology 15 (second edition): 45–89.

Jasim S.A. 2012. The necropolis of Jebel al-Buhais. Prehistoric discoveries in the Emirate of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (First edition). Sharjah: Department of Culture & Information, Emirate of Sharjah.

Karacic S., Weeks L., Cable C., Méry S., al-Alid Y., Boraik M. … MacDonald B.L. 2018. Integrating a complex late prehistoric settlement system: Neutron activation analysis of pottery use and exchange at Saruq al-Hadid, United Arab Emirates. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 22: 21–31.

Magee P. 1996. The Chronology of the southeast Arabian Iron Age. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 7: 240–252.

Magee P. & Carter R. 1999. Agglomeration and regionalism: Southeastern Arabia between 1400 and 1100 BC. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 10: 161–179.

Magee P., Händel M., Karacic S., Uerpmann M. & Uerpmann H-P. 2017. Tell Abraq during the second and first millennia BC: Site layout, spatial organisation, and economy. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 28: 209–237.

Magee P., Händel M., Karacic S., Brunet O., Feston B., Uerpmann M. … Silvia Z. 2018. Report on fieldwork at Muweilah and Tell Abraq, Emirate of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates 2014–2017. Annual Sharjah Archaeology 16 (Second edition): 49–65.

Pellegrino M.P., Degli Esposti M., Buta M., Tagliamonte E. & Hassan S.A. 2019. Grave-goods from the long chamber tomb ‘Dibba 76/1’ (Fujairah, UAE): A first inventory. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 30: 32–74.

Potts D.T. 1990. A prehistoric mound in the Emirate of Umm al-Qaiwain, U.A.E. Excavations at Tell Abraq in 1989. Aarhus: Munksgaard.

Potts D.T. 1991. Further excavations at Tell Abraq. The 1990 Season. Aarhus: Munksgaard.

Potts D.T. 1993. Four seasons of excavation at Tell Abraq (1989–1993). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 23: 117–126.

Potts D.T. 2000. Ancient Magan. The secrets of Tell Abraq. London: Trident Press.

Reimer P., Austin W., Bar E., Bayliss A., Blackwell P., Bronk Ramsey C. … Talamo S. 2020. The IntCal20 Northern Hemisphere radiocarbon age calibration curve (0–55 cal kBP). Radiocarbon 62/4: 725–757.

Righetti S. 2015. Les cultures du Wadi Suq et de Shimal dans la péninsule omanaise au deuxième millénaire avant notre ère. Évolution des sociétés du Bronze moyen et du Bronze récent. PhD thesis, Université Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne [Unpublished.]

Riley M. & Petrie C. 1999. An analysis of the architecture of the tomb at Sharm, Fujairah, U.A.E. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 10: 180–189.

Schmidt C. & Döpper S. 2014. German expedition to Bāt and Al Ayn, Sultanate of Oman: The field seasons 2010 to 2013. Journal of Oman Studies 18: 187–231.

Velde C. 2003. Wadi Suq and Late Bronze Age in the Oman peninsula. Pages 102–113 in D.T. Potts, H. Al Naboodah & P. Hellyer (eds), Archaeology of the United Arab Emirates: Proceedings of the first international conference on the archaeology of the U.A.E. London: Trident Press.

Weeks L. & Petrie C.A. (forthcoming). Iran and Arabia in the Iron Age: New discoveries.

Ziolkowski M.C. 2001. The soft stone vessels from Sharm, Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 12: 10–86.



How to Cite

Degli Esposti, M. ., Borgi, F., Pellegrino, M. P., Spano, S., Abric, C., & Kannouma, R. H. (2022). Renewed excavations at Tell Abraq, Umm al-Quwain, 2019–2020 — insights into the site’s occupation from the mid-second millennium BC to the late pre-Islamic period. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 51, 141–156. Retrieved from

Most read articles by the same author(s)