The slight but intriguing Jumeirah Archeological Site is one of Dubai’s best-kept secrets, scattered over several acres of prime real estate in the heart of Jumeirah. First excavated in 1969, the site protects the remains of a small settlement which grew up here thanks to the area’s strategic location on the caravan route between Mesopotamia and Oman. Originally established in pre-Islamic or early Ummayad times (fifth to sixth centuries AD), the settlement reached its zenith during the Abbasid period (ninth to tenth centuries) and appears to have remained inhabited until perhaps as late as the eighteenth century.

The fragmentary remains of seven structures lie scattered around the site, all now largely vanished apart from the bases of their coral-stone walls. Buildings include several residential dwellings, a small mosque, souk (signed “Market Place”) and a “ruler’s palace”, still dotted with the stumps of its original pillars. Most impressive are the remains of a sizeable caravanserai, with small rooms arranged around a large central courtyard, its antique outline providing a memorably weird contrast to the hypermodern skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road rising loftily behind.

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