Hili Archaeological Park


Al Ain, Abu Dhabi | 2008-2011 | On hold

As one of the earliest archaeological example of oasis settlement and agriculture in southeast Arabia, Hili is a site of national, regional and international significance. It has the potential to become an important modern archaeological park with capacities for both education and leisure. 

The existing and future park site encloses some of the most important Bronze Age and Iron Age tombs, settlements and falaj (irrigation) systems found in United Arab Emirates. The existing park is heavily irrigated and poses a threat to the archaeology. Any work requires a delicate balance between preserving the heritage of the site whilst also providing physical and intellectual access to the remains.

Our proposal creates a small community garden in an area free from archaeology which creates a calm space to enter the park, but also allows other areas of the park to be returned to desert and thus position the archaeological remains within the natural landscapes in which they would have been found. The park will make reference to the natural and man-made landscapes of the region. This community park will be freely accessible and contain sports, play and picnic facilities, a prayer room, a small shop and public conveniences. The Visitor Centre consists of a number of smaller buildings housing visitor and staff facilities arranged along a central shaded pedestrian boardwalk. 

Finally, the desert landscape will be restored to its native habitat. This will include restoration of compacted desert soils and replanting with native species. A network of pedestrian trails will lead visitors to the archaeological remains as well as showcasing areas of landscape beauty.

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Courtesy of Land Securities
Hili Archaeological Park encompasses an irreplaceable combination of settlement, defensive, and funerary architecture, which demonstrate agricultural, craft and trade activities across three millennia and during two distinct occupation phases.

It encapsulates the key themes of the region’s archaeology and is of crucial importance in communicating the prehistory of the United Arab Emirates.
— Mary Bowman, Partner