Ed-dour Site

Ed-dour Site One of the largest local towns of " Roman " period, was a port on the coast of Umm Al Quwain, known today by the Arab name of Ed-dour ( the houses) . The sand dunes here are littered with broken pottery pieces of building stone and seashells, silent witnesses to a substantial city, extending for over two kilometers. The potsherds include pieces from Rome and Persia, and from the Nabataean state to the north of Arabia. This was sufficient to date the place, but they are supplemented by a handful of coins which preface to the use of writing. Greek and Roman records give descriptions of the shores of the Gulf at that time. Some archaeologists suggested that Ed-dour might be the Omana, Homna port. It seems at first sight that such a large flourishing own as Ed-dour should have been abandoned without trace. In 1986, an international effort to uncover the secrets of Ed-dour was launched by teams from France, Britain, Denmark and Belgium working in turn throughout the winter. They have found that in the southern area of dunes a scatter of pottery and shells was left by seasonal settlers in the third millennium BC. Their fireplaces have been uncovered, but so far no trace of buildings found. In the north of the site another scatter of pottery and a few walls reveal a settlement of Iron Age Times. In 1974, the Iraqi archaeologists uncovered a substantial fort in the centre of the site. It was a square building with round towers at each corner, and a few smaller buildings within the walls, many of them belong to large houses, with a number of rooms and courtyards. There are many tombs which still had smooth stone floors, and one or two had rows of tilted stones at the top of the walls, the bases for barrel vaults. Many tombs have a little stone lined entrance passage at one end, and occasionally other burials have bee found in these passages. Pieces of beautiful Roman glass have been found in many tombs, and also little plaques of ivory and bone, carve with pictures of people or animals. In one fine tomb dug by the Danes near the fort, a large iron sword was found, a splendid embossed Roman glass beaker, and a bronze bowl with a ladle and strainer, with a little bull`s head for a spout. The most impressive building on the site was uncovered by the Belgian team; it is a sanctuary of some kind, with a number of stone altars and several incense burners. A large stone basin with a long inscription in Aramic writing on it. Near the altar was a well, it was the second one to be found in Ed-dour. Nearby,too, was another area with many graves, large ones for the adults, pathetics tiny ones for the many children who had died young. One baby grave had not been robed; it contained two tiny skeletons and two fine glass flasks.


The Iraqi mission has discovered in the south-east corner of Ed Dur site, a square building with solid stones walls. About 1.6 km far to the south of the building, the mission has also found a castle, with four round towers, the diameter of each is four meters. They were built of coastal rocks. The castle is composed of three rooms. The European mission has also found a temple with four altars and one room which has two doors: the large one is in the center of the western wall and the small one is in the middle of the wall. A large number of houses has also been discovered a round the castle.


When excavations works began at Ed Dur site, more than 400 gold, silver and bronze coins, were found. Their sizes and weights vary. These coins, including the specie with the picture of Alexander, the god Hercules, the god of the sun, or a picture of a Palm are known as (Abeil). Most of them exist in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula at the same level. On one side of coins dating back to Alexander the Great, appears the head of Hercules wearing a helmet made of lion skin .The other side shows Zeus sitting on his throne ,his right arm wrapped around the wand and holding a falcon in his outstretched left hand. The name of Alexander is mentioned in a Greek manuscript-pattern. Coins were usually containing horizontal rod often symbolizes the venerable Sun God, whereas on the face of some small coins appeared, particularly the Obol heads that might represent the rulers of Cilossid, one of whom wearing a crown. During this period of history, coins in the northeast and southeast of the Arabian Peninsula are substantially similar which indicate that they are used in the commercial transactions, especially during the period between the third century and the late first century BC. In this context, this region has formed a common market with the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula, which was the main supplier of foreign goods, as the same time, Western goods have been distributed from here by caravans. During this period or shortly after, south east of the Arabian Peninsula wanted to express their independence, so it, locally, created silver coin approving its political and economic power. Alexander coin was minted in a way that Hercules appears on one face, while, on the other side appears a person sitting and on his outstretched hand appears a hawk beside the Aramaic inscriptions and the name "Abiel". Possibly, these coins were dated to the second half of the third century BC. Only a few coins were imported from Meleihah, but their exact history is unknown. So, they have been circulated only within South East area of the Arabian Peninsula. "Abiel" coins were developed by adding what is seemed to be a horse on the outstretched hands of the statue, which might represent the Sun God. Some of these coins appeared in other different sites in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula.

Shams Temple

This temple lies in Ed Dur site. It was the first temple in this area; it is discovered by the French Archaeological Team. The French experts found an altar and remains of cinders and incense used during the religious visits to the temple .Shams was written in Aramaic language on a big rock discovered there. Shams Temple is the sole temple discovered in the United Arab Emirates.

The terracotta figurines from Ed Dur (Umm Al Quwain .U.A.E)

The human representations

From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s Ed-Dur was the focus of attention of four different archaeological teams, each revealing a considerable amount of information on burial practices and religious beliefs common in late pre-Islamic southeastern Arabia. Apart from the many imposing graves, the Belgian team under the direction of E. Haerinck found important remains of first-century AD structures, such as a temple dedicated to the Semitic sun-god Shamash and four associated stone altars or betyls in its vicinity; wells; remains of huts; and habitations made of beach-rock with plastered floors of palmfrond(2). They also found eighteen terracotta human and animal figurines (3). Unfortunately, all of the figurines were fragmentary and most were not associated with securely datable finds, such as ceramics. They were unearthed in four of the forty four areas excavated by Haerinck’s team. A single one was even found accidentally on a dump (4). All of the figurines will be analyzed according to three broad types, i.e. human, animal and undefined (5). In this first article the human figurine fragments will be presented. Because of a lack of sealed contexts and the chronological and spatial breadth of similar figurines found elsewhere in situ, the evolution of these types cannot be proposed in the case of Ed-Dur. As we shall see throughout this article, the Ed-Dur figurines appear to be mainly unique objects from abroad, rather than objects which played a prominent part in the religious or ritual beliefs held at this important site. Therefore, they cannot all be considered products of a local workshop as has been suggested in the past (6).Contexts Very few human figurines were found in a secure context at Ed-Dur. Most were either surface finds (Figurines 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7) or else were found scattered throughout the different excavated areas (Figurines 1, 3 and 8) with few archaeological indications of context. Sadly, this reduces the Ed- Dur figurines to objects that can be discussed mainly in relation to similar objects found elsewhere in the Near East, rather than as objects which throw light on religion, ritual beliefs or other functions in the ancient society of Ed-Dur. Human figurines of the eighteen terracotta figurines found during the Belgian excavations, five are fragments of human beings. Three others appear to be fragments of horse-or camel-and-rider figurines. These will be dealt with here and not with the animal figurines . The present article proposes an examination of the human terracotta figurines found during the course of eight archaeological seasons carried out by a Belgian team at the coastal site of ed-Dur in the Emirate of Umm-al- Qaiwain. Since most fragments lack a secure archaeological context, the figurines will be studied mainly in comparison with similar data occurring at other contemporary sites throughout the Gulf and Mesopotamia. We shall see that the ed-Dur figurines appear mostly to be isolated cases coming from abroad instead of objects playing a prominent part in local religious or ritual since the animal has been portrayed as the support of the rider that appears to be the central figure. Dimensions, findspot and inventory numbers for each figurine are given in Table 1.

Figurine 1

This handmade figurine was found against the western wall of altar 1 facing the Shamash temple in area M (7). It represents a simplification of a human head, broken at the neck (Fig. 1). The head consists of a cylindrical block upon which details are either pinched, like the nose; carved, as is the case for the mouth; or applied, as can be seen with the eyes and the turban on the forehead. These three techniques – pinching, carving and applique´ – were already employed in the Near East during the early . Neolithic to indicate facial and other body features on handmade clay figurines. Figurine 1 has some clear parallels with other Arabian and Mesopotamian finds dated to the first half of the first millennium BC. To begin with, mention should be made of over twenty Late Dilmun human figurine fragments found by the Danish expedition (8) and the more than 100 human figurine fragments found by the French expedition at Qal’at al-Bahrain (9). While the Danish finds come mainly from rooms, all of the French figurines were found together in a trash layer that has been associated with a cultic space of the tenth–seventh centuries BC belonging to king Uperi’s palace. Because of their high number and the presence of a ceramic support resembling an incense burner, Lombard calls these figurines votive (10). Significantly, in the vicinity of Ed-Dur altar 1, three similar objects were found that Haerinck has interpreted as incense burners, one of which still contained the remains of incense in the bowl (11). Figurine 1 also shows close parallels with human figurines found at Tell Khazneh on Failaka, where over 280 fragmentary and complete figurines were discovered, accounting for over one quarter of the site’s material inventory (12). Of these 280 figurines10% are fragments similar to Figurine 1. By analogy with the complete examples found at the site, Salles considered these to be riders (13). This type of figurine is said to be post-Isin II/pre-Hellenistic and typifies a popular religious belief that can be found throughout the pre-Hellenistic Near East (14). Unlike several of the Tell Khazneh figurines, the Ed-Dur figurine does not seem to have been glazed. Furthermore, our figurine has a generally rounder shape than the ones from Tell Khazneh. Nevertheless, the facial features and the probable turban on he Tell Khazneh riders are rendered using the same distinct technique of pinching, application and incision or carving. This connection between Ed- Dur and Tell Khazneh should come as no surprise since, during the first half of the first millennium BC when frankincense and myrrh were especially cherished import products from the East, Arabia lay on the main axis of two important trade routes: one connecting Arabia and India by sea, the other connecting Yemen, the Hadramaut and coastal Arabia with the Mediterranean via Failaka (15). From the Seleuco-Parthian layers of Uruk and Susa come several fragmentary horse and rider figurines, the faces of which are similar to our figurine (16). However, the head of the ed-Dur figurine exhibits more similarities with the Khazneh and Bahrain figurines than with the Mesopotamian examples. Similar, more complete figurines of this type found at other sites represent a male rider. Therefore we suggest that Figurine 1 represents a man, most probably a rider.

Figurine 2

This handmade figurine was found loose within area AV. The head of the figurine is broken at the neck (Fig. 2). Although the eyes and the nose of the Fig. 1. Fig. 2. A. DAEMS 94 figurine are rendered in the same way as on Figurine 1, Figurine 2 lacks a proper mouth and has a shape unlike Figurine 1. Since Figurine 2 is a surface find, its interest lies only in its resemblance with other figurines. The nose and earlobes are represented by means of a long and small pinched piece of clay. The left earlobe has three deep, parallel cuts whereas the right one has three piercings, the uppermost of which is damaged. This pierced lobe might initially have had earrings attached to it. Two horizontal grooves and two bands of dots at neck-height could represent a choker. The lack of any detail at the back suggests the figurine was meant to be seen from the front. In terms of facial features, the closest parallels for this figurine from the Gulf area are with a fragment found at Thaj (17). Although complete figurines with a similar head are unknown, there is a good chance our figurine belongs to the seated female type from Thaj. This is suggested by the choker at the neck and the overall finish of the head. A schematic lump of clay out of which the main body features are pinched characterises the Thaj figurines. Further details such as a pubic triangle, stretch marks and most facial features are incised using lines and dots. This can be seen on the choker most figurines are wearing. Outside Thaj, figurines of this type are also said to come from the Wadi al Jawf of Yemen. Unfortunately, since all these Thaj-type figurines found their way into the Sana’a University Museum through purchase (18), they cannot be regarded as evidence for the geographical extent of this type (19). Another example somewhat resembling Figurine 2 was found at Mleiha (20). The Thaj figurines were originally dated to the Seleucid period, around the third century BC (21). Further research on the chronology of Thaj, however, suggests a somewhat younger date for the pottery, figurines and other small finds. A reevaluation of the site’s stratigraphy and associated material makes a date between the third century BC and the time of Christ more plausible (22). Turning to Mesopotamia, some links can be suggested with several Bronze Age figurines from Syria, Mesopotamia and Susa, but they are much less secure (23). Although it is difficult to judge only from the head, the parallels with more complete fragments from Thaj (and the Wadi al-Jawf figurines) suggest that it belongs to female.

Figurine 3

This female figurine fragment (Fig. 3) was found some 100 m to the north of Figurine 2 in area BR, and enough elements are present to permit an attribution to the same type as Ed-Dur Figurine 2. This handmade figurine is broken at the neck and belly, preserving only the chest upon which two small circular clay breasts have been applied with incisions to represent nipples. From each shoulder run three diagonal bands with two alternating incised and one dotted line that meet between the breasts. Surrounding the breasts are several small, incised dots from which a dotted line runs vertically towards the navel. Although the arms are broken, the hands upon which the five fingers are indicated by means of incised grooves, are still visible and located next to the breasts. In the Near East the placement of the hands upon, underneath or next to the breasts is a common female pose in figurines from the early Neolithic onwards. The chest here is generally comparable to a sitting female figurine found at Thaj (24). Other similar figurines with dots and applied clay features were found in the Seleuco-Parthian levels covering the palace of King Uperi in Qal’at al- Bahrain (25). Four female figurines of the Thaj type were also found during a survey at al-Ukhdud (Najran) but their precise date is still a matter of debate (26). Although a precise chronology cannot really be proposed for this type of figurine, a date in the Seleuco-Parthian era seems probable by analogy with the examples from Thaj and Qal’at al-Bahrain. Fig. 3.

Figurine 4

A mould-made human figurine was also found in BR, loose within the excavated area (27) (Fig. 4). Although moulds were common from the end of the third millennium onwards in the Near East (28), most ed-Dur figurines, whether human or animal, were handmade and therefore unique. This is definitely not the case for Figurine 4, which is one example of a huge number of human figurines moulded in this way. The figurine is broken at the neck and belly, leaving only the chest visible. This figurine appears to be flat in shape and holds both hands joined together in front of the breast. A circular object, too weathered to identify, is held in the hands. By analogy with several similar figurines the object could represent an instrument, such as a small hand drum, a flower, a vase or something else (29). Although the posture of Figurine 4 is basically the same as that of Figurine 3, its finish clearly belongs to another tradition. Figurine 4 belongs to a type of figurine that might represent a deity or a deity’s servant. Similar pieces have been found in large numbers throughout the Near East, mostly in domestic spaces or temple areas. Because only the front of the figurine seems to have been detailed, it looks as though the figurine was created using a single mould for the front while further shaping of the back was effected by hand. This manufacturing technique is called false tongue relief meaning that once the mould is removed the remaining clay surrounding the figurine is cut away (30). Although most moulded figurines of this type are female, smaller numbers of male figurines also occur. Based on the shape and the position of the hands we suggest a woman is represented here. It is also difficult to put forward a date for this figurine. It is heavily weathered and therefore hard to recognize and as a mould-made one it belongs to a long tradition. Mould-made figurines holding an object in both hands in front of the breasts were common from the Ur III (2100–2000 BC) to the Seleuco-Parthian period in many parts of the Near East (31). In the Gulf area a figurine of this type has been found within the North wall of Qal’at al Bahrain in a second millennium context (32). Hellenistic examples of this type are known from Failaka

Figurine 5

This fragment of a hand touching an incomplete and unidentifiable cylindrical object was found on the dump of area BS (Fig. 5). The object, which is covered by the remains of a left hand, broken at the wrist, is modelled in a naturalistic way but indications of nails and phalanges are lacking. Apart for the upper index finger, all of the fingers are present. There is not much that can be said in terms of iconography, distribution, date or function of this fragmentary and enigmatic object. Judging by its dimensions the object was part of a larger statue rather than a figurine. Although it is difficult to ascertain whether this fragment was hand- or mould-made, we feel the latter is much more likely to be the case by analogy with similar hands (and feet) found by Ghirshman in Seleuco-Parthian layers at Susa in Iran (34). This suggests a similar date for our piece. Martinez-Se`ve suggests the Susa hand holds a volumen – a book of several papyrus scrolls – by analogy with similar, more complete statues found at Delos (35). Ghirshman found another hand fragment of grey stone and with similar dimensions at Bard-e Neshandeh, holding what could have been a pomegranate or a Fig. 4. Rider figurines Of the eighteen figurine fragments, two represent parts of a rider on a horse, mule or camel. A third without doubt shows a rider on a camel. The presence of a dagger on both sides of each rider’s waist indicates that the scene portrayed can probably be linked to hunting. That hunting on horse- or camelback played a major role in pre-Islamic Arabia is proved by many iconographic and literary sources. Hunting game was not only a mode of subsistence but an important strategy to please the gods. On Hellenistic Failaka, hunting was done with the approval of Artemis whereas in Hadramaut, Shams would grant what was requested if several hunts in her name were organised each year (38). Even today, for instance, modern Hadramis still link the hunt with subsistence and not with mere pleasure:‘if we did not hunt, the rain would not come to us; there would be drought in the country and scarcity of food’ (39). The hunting of wild game on horse- or camelback not only provided a part of the necessary daily or weekly diet, but also served as a means of trading goods. As Hoyland has observed, hunting can also be regarded as a form of recreation or training in the arts of equitation or archery (40). And even today, as every visitor to the Gulf area most certainly recalls having seen, riding the camel and attending camel races is still an important part of the people’s entertainment. Weapons are well attested archaeologically in pre- Islamic Arabian tombs. Both ed-Dur and the inland site of Mleiha have yielded a large amount of iron arrowheads that were produced from the Hellenistic period onwards. Apart from arrowheads, spears were used as well as swords and daggers. While horses were used during battles, camels were mostly used as beasts of burden (41). The horse was probably introduced in Arabia during the fourth century BC, which provides a good terminus post quem for the horse and rider figurines that are attested at several pre-Islamic Arabian sites (42). Because the ed-Dur rider figurines seem to belong to the same type, comparisons and dating will be discussed at the end of this section.

Figurine 6

This handmade, fragmentary rider figurine is a surface find recovered outside the trenches. It is broken at the chest and legs (Fig. 6). The remaining waist is simple and cylindrical in form with no anatomical details portrayed. We can, however, confidently identify this figurine as a rider, firstly because of the parting of the legs which seems to form a curve underneath which an animal figurine would have been placed, and secondly because of the presence of a dagger on each hip. Both daggers were represented using applied and modelled bits of clay. A small, simple belt worn across the waist was applied using the same technique. Because of the similarities with Figurine 8, Figurine 6 and Figurine 7 can be considered camel-rider figurines. However, since there are no remains whatsoever of the animal that supported the rider, a horse or a mule could also have been portrayed. Both rider and animal seem to have been modelled separately as is clear in the case of Figurine 8. The daggers represented on Figurines 6, 7 and 8 have a handle that ends in a loop, and although this type of dagger apparently appears only sporadically in the Near East at that time, its rounded top permits easier attachment to the waist than a dagger with a rectangular handle. For this figurine as well as the following two, therefore, it is only the dagger that can indicate a date (see below).

Historical ideas

Difficult to draw further conclusions concerning the rank of the persons buried with the daggers. Another bronze and iron dagger with loop handle was found in tumulus 36/2 at Jidd Hafs on Bahrain. The tomb is dated to the Early or Middle Tylos period of Bahrain, i.e. between 300 BC and 250 AD (45). A related type of dagger with rounded loop handle decorated with gold and turquoise was found in burial 6 at Tillya Tepe in northern Afghanistan, dated to c.100 AD (46). To my knowledge no other comparable daggers have been published from the Gulf area or the regions with which it had commercial contact. However, some depictions of riders show, although not in great detail, a person with a loop-handled dagger attached to the waist. Two bronze belt buckles said to come from the Kerman region represent a typical rider on horseback (47). However, the fact that they were purchased on the antiquities market makes them worthless for dating, but they are worth mentioning here because of their clear representation of loop-handled daggers which are exactly like the ones found at Ed-Dur. This indicates not only that this type of dagger was probably known in southeastern Iran during the Parthian period, but also that the riders portrayed with them may have been mounted on horses as well as on camels. But again, caution should be used regarding these artifacts. Further west, at Palmyra, three reliefs (48) and two sculptures (49) depicting a rider or a standing man with a loophandled dagger have been recovered. These are dated between 100 and 150 AD. Rider figurines were produced in significant quantity in the Near East and are known from many sites dating to the Seleuco-Parthian period (50). The fact that horse-and-rider figurines were produced in large quantities in the Gulf area at this time should not come as a surprise. This type of imagery seems to replace the well-known representation of the bull figurine, probably because these riders were the embodiment of a new type of ‘male strength’: that of the legions of soldiers maintaining the frontiers (51). However, it seems rather improbable that our rider figurines represent Parthian soldiers. Nor do we find exactly similar camel- (or horse-) and-rider figurines with the typical daggers and saddle at other sites. It is therefore probable that these Ed-Dur figurines were the unique creations of one person depicting the theme in his or her own way, rather than of someone creating such figurines on demand on a large scale, as was more probable for other objects at contemporary sites in the Near East. In the absence of terracotta rider figurines with loop-handled daggers elsewhere, we can interpret these Ed-Dur figurines as unique examples of a typical Seleuco-Parthian theme. Some reflections concerning use, function and date Although the nature of the site means that a secure archaeological context is often lacking for the ed-Dur human figurines, several observations can be made. Firstly, not all of the Ed-Dur figurines were made within the same chronological period. Ed-Dur appears to have been largely abandoned in the first half of the second century AD (52), therefore providing a reliable terminus ante quem for the figurines found at the site. The main occupation phase of the site is in the first and early second centuries AD (53). However, Ubaid period flints, third-millennium Umm an-Nar sherds, Iron Age pottery and stone vessel fragments have also been found at Ed-Dur. Although most of the figurines can be securely dated to the Seleuco-Parthian era, both Figurine 1 and Figurine 4 should be dated somewhat earlier. Figurine 1 can be dated by analogy with the Bahrain figurines of the late Iron Age, whereas Figurine 4 could date to anytime between the third millennium and the Seleuco-Parthian period. Both Figurine 1 and 4 might reflect re-use during the Parthian period of an older ritual or religious practice, which was common in earlier times. Secondly, the first five Ed-Dur human figurines studied here could not have been made in a local workshop as has been suggested in the past. Their close parallels to other figurines which were found on a much more significant scale elsewhere suggest the Ed-Dur figurines were either imports or ‘souvenirs’ bought or received elsewhere. While Figurine 1 is most probably an import from late Iron Age northeastern Arabia – Bahrain or perhaps even pre-Hellenistic Tell Khazneh – Figurines 2 and 3 came either from Thaj, which seems to be the central place for the manufacture of such figurines, or from the Wadi al-Jawf, but this is less certain since the examples found there were not discovered during scientific excavations. Figurine 4 is also without doubt an import. If this figurine was a local product, the excavators would have found a certain amount of similar fragments as was common at other sites. An in situ mould would have been a good indication of a local workshop or atelier. However, this was not the case. As mentioned above, Figurine 5 is not a figurine fragment but part of a larger statue. Whether or not the statue really did initially represent a person holding a bunch of scrolls or volumen will never be certain, unless future and more complete examples are found in the Gulf area. Different conclusions can be drawn for the rider figurines of Ed Dur. As mentioned above their uniqueness lies in the fact that, although the theme is very common during that period, the general finish of the figurines appears to be unique to Ed-Dur. Both the riders’ apparent nakedness and their daggers are unparallelled in the Gulf area. The significance of this is unclear. Because of their similarity to each other and their uniqueness, they are probably the products of the same craftsman and we may assume that they were manufactured at Ed-Dur. It is also important to note that, although ancient epigraphic sources and some inscriptions found at Tell Khazneh attest to the worship on Failaka of the triad Zeus, Poseidon and Artemis, the terracotta sculptures recovered there do not confirm or even support the presence of a cult of Artemis there, but rather the worship of Herakles (54). Beyond the style and iconography of the different figurine types found at Ed-Dur, the question of use and function can be approached in spite of the lack of a closed context for most of the fragments. To begin with, although Ed-Dur was excavated for almost a decade and numerous tombs and their complete or partial content were excavated, not a single figurine or figurine fragment was recovered inside a tomb or within the temple. This suggests that they should not be associated with a funerary cult or a belief in an afterlife. However, two small Roman bronze socles upon which statuettes must have once stood were found within the temple (55). Only two pottery figurines were found near the temple, namely Figurine 1 and a fragment of the neck of a camel figurine. The remainder of the figurine fragments were all found loose in the trenches, with no contextual indication of their function. Figurine 1, which might have been the representation of a rider, was found in the vicinity of the Shamash temple close to an altar, some incense burners and a camel figurine fragment. According to Haerinck, Figurine 1 was probably an heirloom which was re-used in the first century AD (56). By analogy with contemporary votive figurines on Bahrain, Figurine 1 can be considered votive as well. But the particular ‘cult’ with which the figurine should be associated remains a mystery. The same applies to Figurines 2 and 3 and neither the Thaj nor the Wadi al-Jawf figurines offer a clue to their function, since information on context, use or function is lacking for them also. The same conclusions can be drawn for Figurine 5, whereas Figurine 4 can be interpreted as the image of a votive person or deity, by analogy with the many identical figurines found throughout the Near East. But again, the figurine appears at Ed-Dur as an isolated example of a well-known type, so a general function cannot be suggested. The rider figurines from Ed-Dur are a different case. These could have been made as toys, as representations of a common everyday scene or as an object playing a role in a local cult or belief. Many of the contemporary horse-and-rider figurines found by Ghirshman at Masdjid-i-Soleiman, for instance, were discovered within a great sanctuary and termed votive offerings representing a male force (57). Identical figurines were found at Susa. These figurines represent Macedonian riders, identifiable thanks to the typical causia they wear which is a large, flat, round hat in the form of a shield, which differs fromthe high pointed hat of Kushan riders of the firstcentury AD. Whether the ed-Dur figurines can be attributed to a cult like the Khuzistan ones cannot be determined since they were incomplete and without secure context. It is well known that polytheism was practiced along the Arabian Peninsula prior to the coming of Islam. Although many southwest Arabian deities are Fig. 9. known by name, the myths and rituals associated with them remain obscure. On the other hand, it is very likely that the deities worshipped in the Mesopotamian and Greek mainlands during the Seleuco-Parthian period influenced the East Arabian pantheon. Jinns also played a part in religious beliefs. To soothe the gods and make them grant whatever was wished for, items of all kinds might be offered. In his survey on pre-Islamic Arabian beliefs Hoyland (58 notes the offering of victuals, aromatics, edifices and small objects such as incense burners and figurines. The offering of camel statuettes to ensure the wellbeing and safety of the animal appears to have been common in pre-Islamic Yemen, for instance (59). Of all animals offered to the gods, the camel appears to have been most commonly offered (60). In recognition for having granted wishes regarding the protection of riders, several Sabaean inscriptions inform us also of the offering of camelor horse-and-rider figurines to deities (61). Of course, this evidence comes mainly from South Arabia. Although we might suggest similar religious practices in Eastern Arabia, no textual evidence is available from this region. Whether the same ritual or religious phenomena occured in Eastern Arabia as in South Arabia is unclear, but at the moment the evidence recovered from Ed-Dur and other sites in the Gulf region shows a much more complex image. Nevertheless, some points can be suggested here. Religion at Ed-Dur was most probably linked with Fig. 10. contemporary Semitic beliefs common in Northern and Central Arabia, Mesopotamia and Syria (62). Ed- Dur provides several indications of how its inhabitants transformed common Hellenistic deities and iconographical themes into their own religious imagery and scenery. In this respect the sun god Shamash seems to have played a prominent role. Haerinck (63) suggests that the horse and the eagle might symbolize Shamash, whereas the lion and a naked woman could represent a goddess, perhaps Allat/Lat. At Ed-Dur several artifacts, such as coins and ceramic vessels, bearing a shin might include references to Shamash. Furthermore, local imitations of Seleucid coinage often represent a god, initially recognized as Zeus, whom Robin identified as Shams/Shamash (64).


Despite the lack of closed and secure contexts, the eight terracotta human figurines found by the Belgian team at Ed-Dur provide new insights on this fascinating site. Indeed, the human figurines reinforce the importance of Ed-Dur as a major Near Eastern trading-post during the Parthian period, in which the exchange of ideas and goods reached a peak. Over time, as evidenced by the figurines from the site, the inhabitants of Ed-Dur maintained contact with the mainland, either overland via Thaj and Failaka or perhaps more directly via the sea route with major sites located in southern Mesopotamia and perhaps to a lesser degree within southwestern Iran (65). This testifies to the widespread connections between Ed-Dur and other regions when it was occupied. Despite the lack of written sources at least one of the human figurines (Figurine1) might be considered votive since it was found next to an altar in the vicinity of a temple and was associated with incense burners. The reasons which led people to create or buy these figurines (as several imports confirm) we might never know. It is hoped that in future other equally intriguing sites will help elucidate the fascinating and widespread phenomenonre presented by human figurines. Margare the Uerpmann provided essential information on the horse and the camel in northeastern Arabia.