One of UAE's first aqueducts is 500 years older than first thought

Water system in Al Ain dates back to 1200BC, experts discover

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One of the oldest aqueduct systems in the UAE dates back 500 years further than first thought, newly uncovered evidence has revealed.

It was originally believed that Falaj Hili 15, in the Hili region of Al Ain, was established in 700BC.

But experts at the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, using information gleaned from excavations previously carried out, now say the site is estimated to have been built in 1200BC, during the Iron Age.

The aqueduct is considered an important discovery because it gives historians and archaeologists a new insight into the inhabitants of the region and their settlements and when they were established.

The Falaj Hili is an intricately designed aqueduct system that allows for water distribution from mountainous areas to inhabited regions.

The water supplies provided by the aqueduct helped to provide valuable freshwater resources for drinking and agricultural irrigation.

Ali Al Meqbali, head of the Al Ain archaeology division, said aqueducts  used water from underground aquifers.

Underground channels then allow the passage of water to surface-level tunnels, which then carry water to an open cistern.

This main access point allows for water to be allocated to inhabitants and farmers for irrigation and agricultural development.


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Mr Al Meqbali said the aquaducts changed the course of history.

"Initially, inhabitants were scattered in mountainous areas, because during the Bronze Age individuals depended on wells for their water resources," he said.

"However, with the advent of aqueducts, settlement patterns changed and inhabitants dispersed during the Iron Age.

"This also had an impact on production patterns of silt and clay items, including pottery jars used for storage of grains, as well as developing systems that allowed for managing the allocation of water through the falaj."