Archaeological Sites in Bahrain

Archaeological Discoveries

Formal archaeological studies of Bahrain did not begin until the 19th century, when a shoe-shaped inscription was discovered in Bilad Al-Qadim in 1879 which established links between ancient Bahrain and Mesopotamia. In 1953, a Danish archaeological expedition made ground-breaking discoveries in Barbar and Qal’at Al-Bahrain which confirm Bahrain’s historical significance and its identification with Dilmun.

Over the past decades, local and international teams have undertaken major archaeological work across Bahrain and excavated prehistoric sites, Dilmun settlements, burial sites, temples, Tylos cemeteries, and Islamic sites.

Below are some of Bahrain’s most important archaeological sites:

  • Ain Umm Sujoor
    The water wells at this site, located in Diraz, appear to have been built around 3000 BC during the Dilmun era. The site was excavated by Danish and Japanese expeditions in 1954 and the 1990s respectively.
  • Barbar Temple
    The Barbar Temple complex, located at Barbar, consists of three Dilmun-era temples that were built atop one another. The first dates to around 3000 BC, while the second was added 500 years later, and the third between 2100 BC and 2000 BC. They are believed to have been constructed to worship the god Enki, the god of wisdom and freshwater.
  • Diraz Temple
    The Diraz Temple, located in Diraz dates to around 3000 BC. The site was excavated by the British Archaeological Mission in cooperation with the Directorate of Archaeology in the 1970s
  • Riffa Fort
    The Riffa Fort was built during the reign of Shaikh Salman bin Ahmed Al Fateh Al Khalifa in 1812 and served as his residence. With Riffa being home to the seat of government until 1869, this fort is of considerable historical significance.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • Dilmun Burial Mounds
    The Dilmun Burial Mounds were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019. Constructed during the Early Dilmun Period over a time span of 300 years, approximately between 2050 and 1750 BCE, the property encompasses the most representative sites of Late Type Early Dilmun Burial Mound construction. The complex comprises 21 archaeological sites located in the western part of Bahrain, six of which are burial mound fields with over 11,700 burial mounds.
  • Qal’at Al-Bahrain
    Qal’at Al-Bahrain, also known as the Bahrain Fort or the Portuguese Fort, contains antiquities in an artificial 12 metre mound which was created by various occupants from 2300 BC up to the 18th century, including Kassites, Greeks, Portuguese and Persians. It was once the capital of the Dilmun civilization and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.


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Content Last Updated: 10 Jul, 2024

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