El Dur temple, Umm Al Quwain, UNESCO World Heritage site

Umm Al Quwain bids for ed-Dur temple to become UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Department of Tourism and Antiquities of Umm Al Quwain is seeking to include the ed-Dur temple and surrounding area on the World Heritage list of UNESCO, Arabian Business reported. 

The plan comes after a programme of conservation of the pre-Islamic temple at the 2,000 year old archaeological site of ed-Dur has been completed, state news agency WAM reported.

The temple was first excavated over 30 years ago by an archaeological team from Belgium’s University of Ghent. The team also excavated a number of other features across the site, which covers several square kilometres.

The main period of occupation at ed-Dur dates to the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD, although there is evidence elsewhere in the area of occupation dating back to the early Bronze Age, around 3,000 BC and to the Neolithic period, around 5,000 – 6,000 BC, WAM said.

During excavations, a stone altar was found within the temple while four other altars and a well were found outside the temple.

On one of the altars, an inscription was found in Aramaic. Although difficult to decipher, it almost certainly mentions the early Semitic sun god Shams.

The Department of Tourism and Antiquities launched a three-stage programme for conservation and restoration of the temple, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development and the Sharjah office of UN-affiliate ICCROM, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural property.

The first phase began in February 2016 and lasted three weeks, followed by the second phase, lasting a fortnight, in April 2016. A three-week final phase was completed during December 2016.

Flourishing for 200-300 years around the beginning of the Christian era, ed-Dur was a port town that derived its wealth from trade across the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.