Thursday, 31 May 2012

Dead Centre of the Ancient World

Bahrain has recently been in the news, with a surprising controversy about whether the Grand Prix should be run there.  The small island nation was probably always run by a despotic non-democratic government and to be honest I see the whole motor racing saga as an unfortunate but barely relevant flash in the pan.

However, you might not realise that, in a sense, Bahrain was the 'dead centre' of the ancient world.  3000 years ago it was a very fashionable place to be buried, and death was a thriving local industry.  As a result, Bahrain contains the largest and most ancient necropolis in the world, with the most famous area being the A'Ali tombs.

A'Ali tombs, Bahrain - the largest and most ancient necropolis.

It is not easy to find many pictures of this 'wonder of the ancient world' and apparently the locals barely notice that they are surrounded by tumuli that were built around 3000 BCE.

In all, it is estimated that there are 170,000 burial mounds.  The architecture of these ancient 'monuments' is not impressive, but the scale of the task is amazing.

Small note: Apologies for recycling one of my father's school-boy jokes in the title of this post!

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