Hamad Town Tumuli Moundfield
Culture & National Heritage Sector P.O.Box 2199 - Manama
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A typical tumulus has the following features: a mound of earth with limestone fragments of 1 to 4 m in heights, surrounded by a circular wall on average 6 to 10 m in diameter. This wall is generally no longer visible due to the progressive subsidence of the tumulus. The top of the mound often presents a depression which is a sign of pillaging. The tumuli all cover a central rectangular burial chamber, built with rough blocks of limestone, and covered by slabs of the same material. This chamber, usually orientated North South, is built at ground level, or sometimes slightly dug into the substratum. Its dimensions can vary from one to several metres in length with and average width and height of approximately 1 to I - 50 m . It often has one or more lateral alcoves designed to receive the funeral furniture. Not all of the tombs are occupied. This is basically due to the poor conditions of conservation, and any cenotaphs (monuments with no body) are purely accidental. The skeleton is placed on its side, with the head of north, the legs are bent, and the hands are brought close to the face. There is no trace of any coffin-like container, and the body is not covered with earth. There does not seem to have been any discrimination: women , men, and children were all apparently entitled to the same type of tomb. The funeral furniture is a constant element in the funeral ritual. It can consist of everyday or decorative ceramic objects, personal ornaments (jewellery sets, necklaces, seals), copper weapons and cups, stone vessels. A small amount of food in bitumen-coated baskets or ostrich egg shells may also accompany the deceased. Bones of ovicaprids or fish (remains of the funeral meal?) are sometimes part of the offering. Systematic pillaging means that the original offering cannot always be determined, although it can be deduced that it was usually quite extensive, varying in opulence with the architectural quality of the monument itself. In any case, the deceased always received a minimum burial offering. This was usually composed of local objects, although the presence of some imported objects or imitations bears witness to the contacts Dilmun had with Mesopotamia, Iran, the Oman peninsula and the Indus Valley.