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600 years old ancient coin found at Bahrain fort.

AN ancient coin believed to be up to 600 years old is among the first artefacts uncovered during a new archaeological excavation at Bahrain Fort.

It was unearthed by one of several volunteers from around the world taking part in the dig, which will continue until Monday.

They are participants in the World Heritage Volunteers Initiative led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), which granted the fort World Heritage Site status in 2005.

"It was really nice to be able to discover something new, even though it all happened by accident," said Helecia Nicolas, the French volunteer who unearthed the coin.

"I just started working on the site and minutes later I found the coin."

Although the newly discovered coin has not yet been dated, it is believed to be an Islamic coin dating back to the 15th or 16th Century.

"We have not dated the coin at the moment, but it has been sent to Bahrain National Museum to be cleaned, restored and later displayed," Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (Baca) archaeological affairs counsellor Dr Pierre Lombard told the GDN.

"We have found other coins in the past from that time period, but it was nice for the volunteers to make a discovery on their own."

Organised by Arab House Foundation, the volunteer initiative aims to raise awareness about the importance of world heritage sites and educate participants through actual projects.

In the past participants have found artefacts such as pottery and other metals at Bahrain Fort, which was once the capital of the 4000-year-old Dilmun civilisation.

It was a focal point for one of the most important ancient civilisations of Eastern Arabia, with evidence of a human presence from 2300BC to the 16th Century.

However, so far just 25 per cent of the fort has been excavated - with previous digs revealing remnants of residential, public, commercial, religious and military structures at the site, as well as artefacts.

"Bahrain is one the richest countries in terms of archaeology in the Gulf," said Dr Lombard.

"It's very important from time to time to get people to recall this fact.

"For example, this year was the year of archaeology for the authority and we had many events and exhibitions to recreate the interest in the region."

The newly discovered coin will be placed in the fort's museum, with Unesco credited for the find.

Bahrain's only other World Heritage Site is the Pearl Route in Muharraq, a network of traditional buildings that trace their heritage back to the glory days of the pearling industry.

However, efforts to add other historic Bahraini locations to the list are ongoing, specifically a series of burial mounds that also date back to the Dilmun civilisation.

"It is a work in progress, but we hope to be inscribed soon," Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage assistant director Shaikh Ebrahim bin Humood Al Khalifa told the GDN.

"The values are there, but there is a lot of research and documentation to be done. Overall, it is a long process.

"There are other countries that are bigger geographically, but only have one or two sites, so it is something to be proud of that Bahrain is really active in this field."

The application to recognise 11 burial mound locations, stretching 25km from the centre of the country to the northern coast, as a World Heritage Site was submitted to Unesco more than seven years ago.

They include the A'ali Royal Burial Mounds along with others in Dar Kulayb, Buri, Hamad Town and Karzakan.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Nov 24, 2017
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