In my previous post I had posted a picture of a mound peering through the morning fog and said there was a story to tell there.Well this is the story about the mound and the hundreds of others that can be still found in Bahrain. Often when one lives with history one tends to take it for granted.What if I tell you that this mound dates back to an era some 3000BC? That would make you take notice alright.
This is what the mound and its cousins(not in the picture) look like in the morning sun.Now ,what look like just some non descript heaps of sand were much higher and majestic till a decade ago.‘Development’ took over history here in Bahrain too just as it does in other places.I post the history behind the mounds below.It has been taken from an internet site on Bahrain.
“History of Bahrain goes back to over five thousand years. Considered to be one of the many venues of Sightseeing in Bahrain, Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain is the place where the ancient people of Dilmun civilization are resting in peace.
Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain is one of the rare archaeological burial grounds that date back to the Dilmun era. Dilmun was an old civilization that flourished on the islands of Bahrain during the Bronze Age at around 3000 BC. The heydays of the civilization started as Bahrain was along the ancient sea trade route which linked this civilization with that of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Civilization. The civilization gradually phased off but their burial ground in Bahrain still bears testimony to this once mighty civilization.
Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain was unearthed by a Danish team when in course of their excavation work they stumbled upon some tumuli. The tumuli contained items that proved the existence of this civilization around two thousand years before the Christ. Every tumulus housed a central stone chamber surrounded by a low ring wall with earth and gravel piled on them. The size of tumuli varies with smaller ones containing single chamber. Larger ones contained more chambers. Though there was only a person buried in each tumulus, some however contained more than one person.
The bodies found at Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain represent both sexes. The bodies did not have many ornaments upon them. Neither the chambers were stacked with huge riches as were found in most Egyptian tombs. The bodies also proved the life expectancy of the then people were around 40 years. Notwithstanding that, it goes without saying that sightseeing in Bahrain is incomplete without a visit to Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain.”(asiarooms.com)
I have lived next to these remnants of an ancient civilisation for some 14 years now.There are only 3 depressed looking mounds left now.There used to be some open ones (possibly opened by archeologists) also right behind the house and all those visiting us in Bahrain were taken on impromptu tours of these.I remember my mum noticing that the open ones had such a neat arrangement of graves that it looked as though a whole family might have been buried there next to each other and also that the stones, used to demarcate the grave spaces, inside the mound had fossils of little sea shells encrusted into them. We all then put on our (amateur archeologist)thinking caps and wonderd where the stones came from.
That was back then.Now there are large villas built over those open ones and it is only a matter of time before these ones disappear too.
All sorts of rubbish is dumped on and around the remaining mounds.You can see the construction rubble lying to the side in the picture. Cars and trucks drive all around and sometimes over them also.On summer evenings youngsters, on their noisy quad bikes, use them to do their stunts and get the thrill from racing up and down the mounds.They may not look like much in the picture but these particular ones are actually quite high.
Bahrain has one(barely) protected site of mounds at A ‘ali where they are to be found one after another.Some particularly huge ones can be be found in Hamad Town. Initially there were great hopes that these, signposts of a past era, would be protected seriously but since then things have gone awry.The reasons are given below( from the wikipaedia entry on the burial mounds)
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 Mowdah, 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 .”
When the religious leaders have such parochial views then what can one expect from the public. I took this picture a few days ago when a young local lad proudly parked his car atop one of the mounds and casually sauntered off to a nearby cafe. He is secure in his conviction that the ancient history, that he tramples upon, is not Islamic and therefore not his. A bit like the thinking behind the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas,in my view!
It would not surprise me if all that remains of this past is soon confined to the excellent recreations of the mounds in the Bahrain National Museum.