Belgian archaeological expedition in the U.A.E. reveals the existence of
an Ancient Kingdom of Oman.

A Belgian
team directed by Dr Bruno Overlaet from the Royal
Museums of Art and History
in Brussels, and working in close collaboration
with Sharjah’s Department of Antiquities made
a discovery of major historical importance at the archaeological site of Mleiha
in the central region of the U.A.E. The find was made on 17 December 2015, the
last day of the team’s fieldwork. The discovery was revealed to the press by
the Ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammed Al Qasimi on
28 Januari 2016.

A monumental
tomb measuring approximately 5.20 by 5.20 meter is under excavation, work on it
is planned to resume in the fall of 2016. A square building of lime-bricks once
stood on top of two underground burial chambers. These chambers, which once
contained the deceased and the grave goods, had walls constructed with large
boulders. The passage between the rooms was blocked with bricks and a large monumental
inscription that had fallen down from the upper structure.

bi-lingual inscription is written in Aramaic and Ancient South Arabian. The
exceptionally well preserved text reveals the identity and the family lineage of
the deceased, as well as the date when the monument was built. The central
panel of the stone is written in Ancient South Arabian. It states that the tomb
was build by the son of a certain ʿAmīd, who was in the service of the king of Oman.
An Aramaic inscription is placed on the rim around the central panel. It gives
the date when the monument was erected, in the year 90 or 96 of the Seleucid
era, the equivalent of 222/221 or 216/215 BCE.

inscription provides the oldest mention of the name Oman and
proves that a kingdom of Oman already existed in the late 3rd
century BC. The local Abiel dynasty,
known from its coins minted at Mleiha, can in all probability be associated with
this title of “King of Oman”. Their kingdom was apparently centered around
Mleiha and probably consisted of the territory of the U.A.E. and the Northern
parts of the Sultanate of Oman. Up to now, the oldest mentioning of the name was
in Classical sources from the 1nd century CE where Omana refers to a harbour on the Oman peninsula.
This Omana in the Periplus
Maris Erythraei
(Voyage around the Erythraean Sea) and in the Natural History by Plinius the Elder, is usually
associated with the coastal sites of either ed-Dur in Umm al-Qaiwain Emirate or
with Dibbah in Sharjah Emirate, both in the U.A.E. The identification of Mleiha
as the royal seat, suggests the Classical authors referred to a harbour that
served Mleiha, as the capital of the Oman Kingdom.

this stage, only the upper part of the burial chambers has been excavated. The excavation
will be resumed in the Fall of 2016.


illustrations :

01. Belgian excavations at Mleiha. View of the tomb with the

02. Belgian excavations at Mleiha. View of the tomb with the

03. Belgian excavations at Mleiha. The

04. Eisa Yousef of the Sharjah Department of Antiquities and Dr Bruno
Overlaet, director of the Belgian team, examining the funerary inscription.

Short selection of press coverage: