A 1,500-year-old town unearthed by archaeologists has been declared the Persian Gulf’s oldest known commercial pearl diving community.
The 6th-century town – in the Emirati state of Umm Al Quwain – was once home to thousands of people all working on producing and selling pearls from oysters.
Many smaller pearl communities were simply temporary but this town, say experts, was a permanent settlement built of stone and palm trees.
The Umm al-Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology said in a statement on Monday, 20th March obtained by Newsflash: “The Department of Tourism and Antiquities announced the oldest pearl-diving city in the Arabian Gulf, is located on Al-Siniyah Island near a historical Christian monastery, and flourished during the period between the late 6th century to the middle of the 8th century AD.”
The town, which predated Islam, is reportedly one of the “largest surviving urbanised settlements ever found” in the United Arab Emirates.
Timothy Power, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the United Arab Emirates University, said that pearling remained a key industry for hundreds of years.
By the 19th century, two-thirds of the male population of Abu Dhabi were involved in harvesting and selling pearls.
Power said, according to local media, that the site is unique due to its age and size.
He added: “This is a different order of settlement, this is a proper town.”
Power also said that the people who lived in the town were most likely Christian, as it is located near an ancient Christian monastery discovered last year.