Statue dating to the Roman Empire unearthed in Sharjah

Bronze object dates to the first century AD

Sharjah Archaeology Authority has announced the discovery of an artefact - a bronze statue of a mythical creature. Photo: Sharjah Archaeology Authority
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A statue of a mythical creature dating back to the time of the Roman Empire has been discovered in Sharjah.

The bronze artefact, which has the face of a lion, the wings of an eagle, the chest of a man and a bird’s foot with claws, is from the first century AD, Sharjah Media Office said.

It was found in Mleiha, a Unesco World Heritage site where numerous other important archaeological discoveries have been made.

The artefact is a bronze statue of a mythical creature with eagle wings, a lion's head, and a huge bird's foot with claws. Photo: Sharjah Archaeology Authority

Experts at Sharjah Archaeology Authority say the statue points to the existence of a trading network between Mleiha, a known centre of trade and commerce on the Arabian Peninsula, and ancient empires.

Dr Sabah Jassim, director general at the authority, said the shape of the mythical creature was depicted in many Roman artworks, including in architecture, decorations, wall panels, furniture and jewellery.

The statue was one of three that were of similar shapes that formed a base to hold a large bowl to burn incense, he said.

It is one of several Roman objects to have been found in Mleiha recently. Other discoveries include an iron key and 1,000-year-old Islamic coins.

The area is home to the Mleiha Archaeological Centre, which charts the region’s history back to the Stone Age.

Mleiha is close to several tombs dating back thousands of years, in addition to Stone Age sites.

One of them, known as FAY-NE1, provides important insights into the early history of mankind, the centre said. Anthropologists consider it one of the earliest sites outside of Africa where stone tools produced by “anatomically modern humans” have been found.

The stone tools found there date from about 125,000 years ago. Visitors can see them on display at the entrance to Mleiha Archaeological Centre.

Updated: December 06, 2021, 5:09 AM