Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Aramaic at ed-Dur (UAE)

ARAMAIC WATCH: A rich history uncovered: Sharjah exhibition showcases unearthed UAQ artefacts (Rym Ghazal, The National).
Ed Dur is on the coast of UAQ [Umm Al Quwain], overlooking the shallow lagoon of Al Bayadha creek.

It flourished from the late first century BC to the first century AD. Archaeological evidence shows similarities between relics found at Ed Dur and those in Mleiha, Sharjah that lies inland to the south-east of the port.

Understanding how people lived then and exploring the close relationship between the port and the internal trade centre that reached an apex of prosperity, is part of latest Sharjah exhibition Ed Dur: Glimpse into Civilisation. It is a collaboration between Sharjah Museums Department and the Department of Archaeology and Heritage in UAQ.

With the exhibition going on at the Sharjah Archaeology Museum until March, 26, it features 79 artefacts – 69 from the UAQ museum and 10 from Sharjah Archaeology Museum.

The exhibition traces the historic relationship between the major inland settlement of Mleiha and the coastal port of Ed Dur, and how it contributed to the way the region evolved as a centre of transport and commerce, linking East and West.
The exhibition includes a couple of ancient artifacts inscribed in Aramaic. First, in a Temple of the sun god Shamash:
Stories of Shamash in pre-Islamic Arabia have been passed down the ages through poetry and oral history, but with no physical evidence of worship.

Then a rectangular stone basin was discovered in Umm Al Quwain. It had nine lines of Aramaic inscription, mostly damaged, but with one clear word: “Shamash”.

“It is the only temple discovered in Arabia dedicated to the sun god,” says Alyaa Al Ghufly, director of archaeology and heritage in UAQ.

Discovered in the late 1980s and built from mud and beach rocks, the temple is only part of the story of the Ed Dur civilisation of UAQ, where an archaeological excavation of about four kilometres makes it one of the UAE’s largest.
Second, on coins:
A name inscribed on the coins in Aramaic, Abi-el, has left experts wondering. It is unknown who the name refers to – a regional ruler or perhaps a deity?

Dr Ernie Haerinck, an archaeologist who worked on the site, earlier speculated that perhaps Ed Dur was a kingdom run by a woman.

“The coins minted locally have a name added to them in Aramaic. It is ‘Abi-el’, the daughter of so and so,” says the Belgian.
More on Aramaic at ancient ed-Dur is here. And past posts on Aramaic in ancient Arabia are collected here.