Every animal leaves traces of what it was; man alone leaves traces of what he created.
My mind whirred with myriad thoughts as we sped across the desert to Mleiha, located about 60 kilometers from Sharjah. As I watched the arid landscapes flying past through the window, my mind, of its own volition traveled back in time to over 2 million years ago when probably Man stood up on his two feet and took the first step for all mankind. My mind gazed in fascination at probably how Africa, the navel of the world where it is believed the human race as we know it originated. My thoughts combined with a fertile imagination painted mental images of the migration of the species Homo Erectus from Africa owing to severe drought and their inability to adapt to the harsh conditions. It is indeed paradoxical that this very inability paved the way for the evolution of Man. One of the earliest migrations of humans happened out of Africa and Man slowly traveled to Asia and gradually populated other continents and islands.
Mleiha Archaeological Centre & Mleiha Desert Safari – Sharjah, UAE
I broke through from the intricate web of thoughts that seemed to have ensnared my mind as the van we were traveling in pulled to a halt. We had arrived at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre which promised to provide a peep through history into the fascinating civilization that thrived in this very region a million years ago. Traces of what Man created more than a million years ago have been found in the archaeological sites around the Mleiha Archaeological Centre. The center literally opens a window to a fascinating past through interactive displays, artifacts display, information points, and guided tours to the actual excavation sites.
The Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Sharjah, UAE
As you cross the threshold of the Mleiha Archaeological Centre, it seems as if you have taken multiple steps back in time. The center has an engaging array of visuals, artifacts, and interactive kiosks that take you on a ride back in time, all the way back to the beginning of time itself, the Paleolithic Age. From there you begin your journey, back to the future. Information and artifacts excavated from the Mleiha region are displayed in their corresponding sections which are dedicated to the specific ages or periods of time. Come! let us embark on a quick journey across the frontiers of time.
The Paleolithic Period
More than 2 million years ago early man started making and using simple and crude stone instruments signaling the advent of what we now call the Paleolithic Period or Stone Age. Africa was the theatre of this development and the Palaeolithic period that began about 2.5 million years ago lasted till about 12,000 years ago.
There is evidence from Mleiha that suggests early humans from Africa passed through Arabia on their way to South Asia. This period is brought alive at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre through riveting visuals, infographics, and interactive kiosks.
The Neolithic Period
This period which is generally considered as the last part of the Stone Age or also sometimes called as New Stone Age is signified by the advent of farming.and the use of domesticated animals.
Traces of the inhabitation of humans of this period in the Mleiha region are plenty and various stone and flint tools and weapons of the period excavated from nearby sites are on display in this section.The Neolithic life in the region is traced to the period between 8000 BCE to 4000 BCE.
The Bronze Age
The Bronze Age was the period during which the use of bronze slowly replaced the stone in the making of tools and weapons.
This was also the period which saw the emergence of the early precursors of writing systems based on symbols. Excavations in the Inland basin of the Mleiha region in the past 20 years have revealed ample traces of the remnants of the Bronze Age civilization.
The Bronze Age Civilization in the Mleiha region is supposed to date back to around 3000 BCE and is further subdivided into phases based on the findings from the different excavations sites in Mleiha.
The metal vessels and ornaments on display tell a silent story of the ingenuity of Man as far back as 3000 BCE. Looking at the exhibits one wonders about the people who used the vessels and many questions arise in the mind – how did they look? how did they speak? what happened to them?
The Iron Age
As we literally walked forward in time at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre, we reached the section dedicated to the Iron Age.
This dates back in time to period between 1200 and 400 BCE and is also broken up into three phases. Abundant traces of the second phase of the Iron age has been found in Mleiha. Thugeibah, a thriving hamlet which practiced agriculture has been linked to the Iron Age based on the finding of graves and the items in them.
It is also established that probably the domestication of Dromedaries, a species of camel existed in Thugeibah in the second phase of the Iron Age.
The Late Pre-Islamic Period
This was the period just before the region of the UAE and all of Arabia and most of Central Asia came under the influence of the mighty Sassanian Empire.
This period is traced to have existed between the 3rd and 4th century BC. Artefacts found that are traced to this region and on display at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre include locally made vessels and tools but also luxury goods including marble articles which established the existence of trade with the outside world including Southern Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India, Mesopotamia, and Egypt.
Mleiha Archaeological Sites, Sharjah
It is one thing to look in wonder at the exhibits in a Museum and be swept away by the experience. However, the experience of visiting actual excavation sites where one can actually have an immersive experience of long-lost chapters of the history of Man is on a different level altogether. The Mleiha Archaeological Centre facilitates the visits to the sites that have been unearthed over the last 40 years. We had the opportunity to visit a few of these sites and had an incredible experience! The following are the main archaeological sites in Mleiha, Sharjah, UAE:
Umm An-Nar Tomb
This is situated virtually at arm’s length from the Mleiha Archaeological Centre and is an impressive well-shaped structure that served as a funeral site and dates back to 2300 BCE. Based on the size of the structure it is estimated that it could have housed anywhere up to 500 bodies. Looking at the Umm-An-Nar tomb waves of strange somnolence engulfed me as my mind sped across time to the Bronze age.
Jebel Faya Site
The Jebel Faya mountain hides in its fold many secrets that date back to the Stone Age as well as the Bronze Age. There are three Bronze Age tombs at this site which are identified archaeologically as FAY-NE20, 21, and 22.
The largest of these tombs is NE20 which measures approximately 6.9 m X 6.2 m. Traces of human bones, shards of pottery, bronze artifacts, and beads from a necklace kind of adornment have been found at this tomb.
The Stone Age too has left its footprints on the desert sands of time and these are visible in a number of sites at Jebel Faya
Mleiha Fort Site
In 1990, when a crew of workers were digging for a laying a pipeline they stumbled upon a fort which was part of the ancient city of Mleiha and constructed sometime towards the end of the 3rd century CE. The fort measuring 56.11 m X51.77 m is made of mud brick with thick walls given the fact that its function was one of resisting the onslaught of marauding invaders. Another interesting and important landmark here is the Palace which is a building that is well fortified and consists of towers and buttresses. Some interesting finds from the Palace include gold coins, a bronze bull’s head, bronze coins, Indian cooking pots, ivory, and traces of cloth and basketry.
A rock that seems to go back far into the frontiers of time is the Fossil rock which is estimated to be a staggering 65,000 billion years old.
The place is a great spot to visit for both paleontologists and laymen alike. In addition to its palaeontological and archaeological importance, the Fossil Rock stands solitary in the midst of wide expanses of sand and offers some stunning photo opportunities.
At a distance from the Fossil rock can be seen a Bedouin Village.
Outdoor Adventure Activities At Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
If you thought that the Mleiha Archaeological Centre was only for geeks and people who loved history, then you are wrong! You may have experienced the adventure activities in Dubai but the ones in Sharjah are unique in their own right. If you are looking to give yourself an adrenaline rush with adventure activities deep in the deserts of Sharjah, the Mleiha Archaeological Centre has many action-packed experiences like dune bashing, Quad Biking in Sharjah and much more to satiate the adventure appetite of all and includes the Mleiha Desert Safari, Sharjah, UAE.
- Tours to Camel Rock and Fossil Rock, an extreme off-roading experience that will ensure that you cling to your seats as your hearts lurch forward in excitement. But the skilled driver will send the vehicle soaring to the peaks of sand dunes and then with a flick of the steering wheel, you will be hurtling downwards with the sand dispersing in all four directions. The thrill of this dune bashing experience in Mleiha, Sharjah combines with the stunning landscapes to bring alive the wild beauty of the desert. We had the time of our life on this Mleiha Desert Safari Experience.
- Desert Cycling Tours are a great way to immerse oneself literally in the spirit of the desert landscapes. Cycling tours on FatBoy bikes that have extra wide tyres to manoeuvre in the desert is a great way to see the historical and archaeological sites of Mlehia and also glimpse the furtive wildlife of the region including its reptiles and birds.
- Dune Buggy Adventure is one of the exciting Off-Road Desert adventures in Mleiha offered by Mlheia Archaeological Centre.Take off in the cloud of red sand deep into the deserts of Sharjah for an exclusive rendezvous with the desert and its mysteries.
- Trekking in the sands of the Sharjah Desert is a pleasurable activity and a unique experience. There is a choice of short and long treks offered by the Mleiha Archaeological Centre.
- For those looking for a more serene and luxurious experience, a drive through the sand dunes to the middle of the desert to view a spectacular sunset which is actually a sunset safari in Mleiha, Sharjah, followed by dinner beneath the stars is on the cards. After dinner, a spot of stargazing at Mleiha through a powerful telescope is a unique experience.
Get an immersive feel of the intriguing world of Mleiha through our short video:
Take a peek into Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism video:
As part of the Mleiha archaelogical and Eco-Tourism project it is planned to construct the Mleiha National Desert Park across an area spanning 450 sq Km.that will provide a natural habitat for animals like the Oryx, Gazelle, and Mountain Deer. Also on the anvil is an Astronomy Observatory.
Mleiha Archaelogical Centre Location Map
Some Good to Know Facts about the Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Sharjah, UAE
- The Mleiha Archaeological Centre is situated about 60 Kilometres from Sharjah Airport
- The Mleiha Archaeological Centre is open all days of the week
- It is open from 9 AM to 7 PM Saturday to Wednesday
- It is open from 9 AM to 9 PM on Thursdays and Fridays
- Tickets are issued up to 30 minutes of closing
- Tickets to the Centre cost 25 AED for adults and 15 AED for children above 3 years
- The Mleiha Archaeological Centre also offers return transfer options from Sharjah
- The entry to the Centre is included in all activity packages
- The Mleiha Archaeological Centre makes for a great day trip from Sharjah for families, people interested in history and archaeology
- The Bystro Cafe at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre serves coffee, soft drinks, and snacks that can be enjoyed as you ponder over your desert adventure
Tips that will stand in Good Stead While Visiting Mleiha for a desert safari
- Wear light clothes and comfortable clothes
- Ensure that your footwear can tackle the desert sands
- Wear a hat or a cap during the day
- Keep a light sweater or jacket handy as it can become chill as the day progresses
- Sunglasses are a must to protect yourself from the harsh glare of the sun during the afternoons
- Carry your camera and phone with sufficient batteries and memory so that you can go on a clicking spree in the desert
As the van headed towards Sharjah and the memories of Mlheia became a cloud of fine red sand behind us, the long and eventful day seemed to rewind in my mind as I mentally retraced the steps of the ascent of Man at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre.
How to get to Sharjah
Where to stay
Tours/Activities available in Mleiha
Choose either of the two to book tours and activities in Mleiha.
Discover the best things to do in Hatta. Book tickets and activities online with our best price guarantee! Read reviews about top tours and attractions in Hatta.
Book Sharjah sightseeing tours and attractions
Have you been to Mleiha? Are you fascinated by the history of human evolution? If you are, then you must visit Mleiha and take a peep into the distant past.
Thanks for visiting our site Voyager – imvoyager.com and taking the time to read our post!
We’d love if you’d comment and share this post.
We were hosted by Sharjah Tourism. However, the views and opinions expressed here are our own based on our experience. If you are planning a trip to Sharjah then you may contact Outbound Konnections Reps Pvt. Ltd. Email to: [email protected]