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burial mounds

Dilmun Burial Mounds

The Dilmun Burial Mounds is a necropolis in Bahrain dating back to the Dilmun era.

A Danish group was excavating the capital city of the Bronze Age when they opened some tumuli and discovered items dating to around 4100 - 3700 BP of the same culture. Many others began to excavate more of the graves, providing us with a view of the construction and content on these graves.

Each of the tumuli is composed of a central stone chamber that is enclosed by a low ring-wall and covered by earth and gravel. Size of the mounds varies, but the majority of them measure 15 by 30 ft (4.5 by 9 m) in diameter and are 3-6 ft (1-2 m) high. The smaller mounds usually contain only one chamber. The chambers are usually rectangular with one or two alcoves at the northeast end. Occasionally there are additional pairs of alcoves along the middle of the larger chambers.

Although the chambers usually contained one burial each, some contain several people and the secondary chambers often contain none. The deceased were generally laid with their head in the alcove end of the chamber and laying on their right side. The bodies were accompanied by few items. There were a few pieces of pottery and occasionally shell or stone stamp seals, baskets sealed with asphalt, ivory objects, stone jars, and copper weapons. The skeletons are representative of both sexes with a life expectancy of approximately 40 years.

Attempts to protect the burial mounds have run into opposition by religious fundamentalists who consider them unIslamic and have called for them to be concreted over for housing. During a parliamentary debate on 17 July 2005, the leader of the salafist Asalah party, Sheikh Adel Mouwdah, said "Housing for the living is better than the graves for the dead. We must have pride in our Islamic roots and not some ancient civilisation from another place and time, which has only given us a jar here and a bone there."

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