Ancient Harbour And Capital Of Dilmun: What You Need To Know | Kidadl


Ancient Harbour And Capital Of Dilmun: What You Need To Know

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The Qal'at al-Bahrain, widely recognized as the Portuguese Fort or Bahrain Fort, is a Bahrain archaeological site.

Archaeological excavations dating back to 1954 have recovered antiquities from a 39 ft (12 m) high artificial mound with seven layered strata. From 2300 BC and up to the 18th century, it was inhabited by Greeks, Kassites, Persians, and Portuguese.

About a quarter of Qal'at al-Bahrain has been unearthed, exposing public, residential, commercial, military, and religious structures. They attest to the site's historical significance as the port used for trading. The spectacular Portuguese fort, responsible for the entire location's name, qal'a (also known as a fort), is located on top of the 39 ft (12 m) hill.

It was formerly the Dilmun civilization's capital, and in 2005 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has the most extensive inventory of this civilization's relics, previously solely known from textual Sumerian references.


The archaeological discoveries uncovered in the Bahrain fort explain a great deal about the country's history. The archaeological site has been populated for around 5,000 years and provides excellent insight into Bahrain's Copper and Bronze Ages. On the northern peak of Bahrain Island, the first Bahrain Fort was established roughly 3,000 years ago. The current fort was constructed in the sixth century AD.

Dilmun, the capital of the Dilmun civilization, was the 'land of immortality,' the ancestral home of Sumerians, and a gathering place for gods, according to the Gilgamesh Epic. The location has been dubbed Bahrain's 'most important ancient site.'

In the '50s and '60s, a Danish archaeological team led by Geoffrey Bibby excavated the site for the first time. A French expedition started working on the site in the '70s. Bahrain archaeologists have been working on this project since 1987. Beginning with the Ancient Dilmun empire, archaeologists discovered seven civilizations of urban constructions. It was discovered by the Danish expedition to be a significant Hellenistic site.


Qal'at al-Bahrain, on the island of Bahrain, is a remarkable example of continuous human occupation for almost 4,500 years, from roughly 2300 BC to the present. The archaeological tel is the largest recognized in Bahrain and the most complete example of a profound and protected stratigraphic sequence covering the majority of periods in Bahrain and the Persian Gulf in the entire region of Eastern Arabia and the Persian Gulf.

It is a great illustration of Dilmun's and its successors' power during the Tylos and Islamic periods, evidenced by their control of trade along the Persian Gulf. The site's colossal and defensive architecture, the beautifully preserved urban fabric, and the outstandingly significant finds unearthed by archaeologists excavating the tel, exemplify these traits.

The sea tower, which is most likely an ancient lighthouse, is a rare specimen of ancient maritime architecture in the region. The surrounding sea channel illustrates the city's historic role in maritime trade routes.

Qal'at al-Bahrain was the focal point of commercial operations connecting traditional land agricultural production with maritime trade between various places such as the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia in the early phase and China and the Mediterranean in the later era. It was considered the capital of the ancient Dilmun Empire and the original harbor of this long-since-disappeared civilization.

Qal'at al-Bahrain, which served as a crossroads for trade, had a strong political and commercial presence in the entire region. The site's successive monumental and reactionary design, which includes an excavated coastal fortress dating from around the third century AD and a large fortress on the tel itself dating from the 16th century, which gives the site its name of Qal'at al-Bahrain, as well as the beautifully preserved urban fabric and the astonishingly substantial and varied finds illustrating a mélange, attest to the resulting meeting of different cultures.

A madbasa (an architectural element used to manufacture date syrup) within the tell, for example, is one of the world's oldest and demonstrates a connection to the surrounding date palm plantations, illustrating the continuity of ancient agricultural techniques dating back to the first millennium BC.

Barbar pottery is one of the most remarkable artifacts discovered on the walls of the Portuguese fort. These ceramics were made at the same period when the Barbar temples were built. On the other hand, other pottery artifacts have been dated to be older than the temples. Ivory artifacts and copper were also discovered, indicating a possible old trading link. Fishing implements, sarcophagi, copper bits, mirrors, and other objects have been found thus far.

The known attributes that reflect Outstanding Universal Value are now within Qal'at al-Bahrain, thanks to the enlargement of the site borders to incorporate a second region to the World Heritage site, which includes the ancient sea tower and the ancient entry channel. The choice to extend the buffer zone to encompass the visual corridor in the bay north of the site ensures that the interaction between the two components of the site and the sea is preserved.

Amazing facts about the Ancient Harbour and the Capital of Dilmun say that the property's location was crucial to the regional Gulf political network.


The World Heritage site Qal'at al-Bahrain, the Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun, consists of four primary elements. It consists of archaeological tell, which is an artificial hill created through time by various occupations) of over 40 acres (16 ha) adjacent to Bahrain's northern coast; a sea tower about 1 mi (1.6 km) north-west of the tel; a sea channel of just under 40 acres (16 ha) through the reef near the sea tower; and palm trees.

Palm trees and conventional farming gardens surround the site throughout the land component of the buffer zone, with the Western and Northern sides being particularly apparent but also occurring on the Eastern and South-Eastern sides. The property is located in the Northern Governorate, in the Al Qalah village district on Bahrain's northern coast, approximately 4 mi (6 km) west of Manama, the country's current capital.

People who created farmland around the oasis, planted palm trees, nursed livestock, sheep, and goats, and went fishing in the Arabian Sea are thought to have settled in the village. They erected tiny dwellings out of rough stone, with clay or mortar as a binding element. The dwellings' plastered floors were supposed to be quite large. According to the excavations, the village may have had roadways separating the house complexes.

The fort walls were constructed with varied thicknesses of natural stone and included gates that permitted transportation and passage, like donkey caravans. The four-level gates show that the defenses were regularly raised; two smooth stone (fine-grained substance) shafts held a dual gate in place on the most recent gate.

A palace was there at the tel's center, in a dominating site, with multiple warehouses inferred to be suggestive of Dilmun period business growth. Continuing north alongside the roadway, you'll come to a massive gate that was most likely the entrance to the palace's grounds. The basic houses were built of the same style and size and were connected by a road network.


Qal'at Al-Bahrain has a hot, dry climate. Bahrain's climate comprises a scorching summer and a temperate winter. From April through October, summer temperatures are approximately 40 degrees C (104 degrees F), with highs of 46 degrees C (115 degrees F) from May to July. This season is uncomfortably hot and humid due to a mixture of high heat and humidity.

Furthermore, a hot, dry southwest wind blows across Bahrain's desolate southern end throughout the summer, pushing sand clouds toward Manama. During the wintertime, temperatures range between 10-20 degrees C (50-68 degrees F). Humidity levels in the colder months frequently exceed 90%.

The main north-west winds bring rainy air to the islands from December until March. Regardless of the season, mean temperatures are very similar throughout the archipelago. Bahrain has a dry climate with little rainfall. The annual rainfall averages 172 mm (6.8 in), with most of it falling in the winter.

Short, intense downpours characterize winter rainfall, drowning low wadis dormant most of the year and posing transportation issues. Rainwater is rarely saved for irrigation or drinking purposes. There are various natural springs in Bahrain's northern region and neighboring islands.

The Persian Gulf's freshwater resources reach the Saudi Arabian coast. The springs have drawn residents to the islands since prehistoric times. Despite growing salinization, Bahrain's springs continue to be an essential supply of safe and pure drinking water. Since the early '80s, desalination plants have delivered over 60% of daily water demands, converting seawater into drinkable water for domestic and industrial usage.


Q: How old is Qal'at al-Bahrain?

A: Qal'at al-Bahrain has been populated for around 5,000 years and provides great insight into Bahrain's Copper and Bronze Ages.

Q: Where is the Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun?

A: Qal'at al-Bahrain is located in the Northern Governorate, in the Al Qalah village district on Bahrain's northern coast, approximately 3.4 mi (5.5 km) west of Manama, the country's current capital.

Q: How do you travel to the Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun?

A: Bahrain International Airport (BAH) is the primary entry point to the Ancient Harbour and the Capital of Dilmun. It is located in Muharraq, near the island's northeastern tip.

Q: What was Dilmun known as and why?

A: Dilmun, also referred to as 'the land of the living' and 'the place where the sun rises,' is the setting for some versions of the Sumerian creation myth, as well as the location where the gods took the deified Sumerian hero of the flood, Utnapishtim (Ziusudra), to live forever.

Many modern hypotheses claim that the Sumerians revered Dilmun as a sacred site, yet no such claim is made in any known ancient document. The Mesopotamians mentioned Dilmun as a trading partner, a copper supply, and a trade entrepôt.

Written By
Jaba Sharma

<p>A highly skilled content writer and editor, Jaba brings over six years of experience in the field to her role. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Science from Lucknow University and a Master's degree in Business Administration with a specialization in finance from the Institute of Environment &amp; Management, Lucknow. Jaba's meticulous approach and creative mindset naturally led her into the world of content writing. She began her career as a Website Content Writer and Backend Admin at EventTraveler Pvt. Ltd, where she gained extensive experience in creating web pages, writing, and editing content and conducting in-depth web research.&nbsp;</p>

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