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The Mleiha Archaeological Centre displays evidence of the oldest archaeological finds in the UAE, the prehistoric Faya-1 collection, which dates human occupation in the area to 130,000–120,000 BCE and has been linked to the movement of the first anthropologically modern humans from Africa to populate the world.
The Faya discovery, made in 2011, includes primitive hand-axes, as well as several kinds of scrapers and perforators, which resemble those used by early modern humans in East Africa.
One of the largest sites in the country, comprising an area of some five kilometres, the coastal settlement overlooks the Al Beidha Lake.
It has been dubbed 'one of the most significant lost cities of Arabia'.
Subsequent digs have unearthed evidence of human habitation spanning the Ubeid period, Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Pre-Islamic period.
During the latter period the settlement appears to have been at its most prosperous and the hills of the area were entirely covered with dozens of buildings and thousands of stone-built tombs.
Some 500 of these tombs have been excavated, The Hafit period is marked by (and named for) the distinctive 'beehive' tombs first discovered around the area of Jebel Hafit in Al Ain.
The period defines early Bronze Age human settlement in the United Arab Emirates and Oman in the period from 3,200 to 2,600 BC.
Since then, digs have taken place around the UAE by teams from universities in France, Spain, Germany, Jordan, Australia and the UK.
The remains of settlements, burials and other extensive evidence of human habitation throughout these eras is littered throughout the UAE, with many extensive finds of rich materials in the shape of pottery, jewellery, weapons and both human and animal remains providing archaeologists and researchers with an increasingly sophisticated picture of longstanding involvement in regional trade alongside nomadic cultures eking out a living from the frequently arid and inhospitable desert and mountain environment of the UAE.
The first modern digs to take place in the Trucial States were led by teams from the Danish Moesgaard Museum in 1959 The first archaeological excavations in the UAE were in 1959, led by Peter Glob and his assistant Geoffrey Bibby.
Finds from the stone age Arabian Bifacial and Ubaid cultures (including knapped stone arrow and axe heads as well as Ubaid pottery) show human habitation in the area from 5000 to 3100 BCE.
The archaeological record shows that Arabian Bifacial/Ubaid period came to an abrupt end in eastern Arabia and the Oman peninsula at 3800 BC, just after the phase of lake lowering and onset of dune reactivation.The distinctive circular tombs of the Umm Al Nar period distinguish it from the preceding Hafit period, together with finds of distinctive black on red decorated pottery and jewellery made with gems such as carnelian, sourced from the Indus Valley.