Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun
“Historically, this is one of the most important sites in Bahrain. The fort was built in the 14th century, but excavations in the area reveal it to be the site of settlements dating back to the Dilmun era, or around 3000 BC. The fort itself is very much a part of Bahrain’s history.
In the early 1500s, the Portuguese saw Bahrain as a key point to protect their trade routes between India, Africa and Europe. They invaded the island and set up military base at the Bahrain Fort. They strengthened the perimeter and erected new stone towers. The fort is still sometimes referred to as the Portuguese Fort.”
Qal’at al-Bahrain is a typical tell – an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation. The strata of the 300 × 600 m tell testify to continuous human presence from about 2300 BC to the 16th century AD. About 25% of the site has been excavated, revealing structures of different types: residential, public, commercial, religious and military. They testify to the importance of the site, a trading port, over the centuries. On the top of the 12 m mound there is the impressive Portuguese fort, which gave the whole site its name, qal’a (fort).
The site was the capital of the Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations of the region. It contains the richest remains inventoried of this civilization, which was hitherto only known from written Sumerian references.