An island off the coast of Abu Dhabi where dozens of pre-historic settlements were found last year could be opened up to the public as part of a heritage trail.
An archaeological survey conducted last November on Gagha, a small uninhabited island off the coast of Al Gharbia, by scientists from the UK's University of Southampton, found more than 40 sites that indicate settlements dating back to Neolithic times.
Peter Sheehan, historic buildings manager at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, said excavation work was ongoing.
"It's essentially a process of investigation, preservation and presentation to the public. It would eventually be opened for visitation."
He said there was a possibility of one day including the island in a tourism trail that would encompass the emirate's key historic sites.
"There's an attempt to link up some of these sites so they can be used for historic trails," he said, although he declined to say exactly when that would happen.
"The work started last year and is continuing now. So it's a case of sooner rather than later."
The seven-day geophysical survey of the island was jointly carried out by Kris Strutt, of the University of Southampton. He said a major goal was to compare the results of the survey with one done in the early 1990s.
He said that although 40 sites had been discovered, including what appeared to be small enclosures like farmsteads, and cairns that indicate pre-Islamic sites, some of the sites that were there before had disappeared.
"There are some sites that have been affected, whether it is through natural erosion or through things like people having barbeques on the beach, or bulldozers doing things on the island," he said. "Certain sites have disappeared."
He said it was a good idea to at least excavate sites on the island to date them more accurately.
"Archaeology is a finite resource," he said. "Things do disappear and do erode, but it might be a good idea to do some excavation to get some form of a chronological handle on some of the things we surveyed."
From The National