Bahrain’s ancient temples (the earliest circa 3,000 BC)

The Barbar Temple

The Barbar Temple is an archaeological site located in the village of Barbar, Bahrain, and considered to be part of the Dilmun (*) culture.


The most recent of the three Barbar temples was rediscovered by a Danish archaeological team in 1954. A further two temples were discovered on the site with the oldest dating back to 3000 BC.


The temples were built of limestone blocks, believed to have been carved out from Jidda Island.


The three temples were built atop one another with the second built approximately 500 years later and the third added between 2100 BC and 2000 BC.


(*) Dilmun was an ancient Semitic-speaking polity in Arabia mentioned from the 3rd millennium BC onwards. Based on textual evidence, it was located in the Persian Gulf, on a trade route between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Civilisation, close to the sea and to artesian springs. A number of scholars have suggested that Dilmun originally designated the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, notably linked with the major Dilmunite settlements of Umm an-Nussi and Umm ar-Ramadh in the interior and Tarout on the coast. Dilmun encompassed Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the eastern portion regions of Saudi Arabia. This area is certainly what is meant by references to “Dilmun” among the lands conquered by King Sargon of Akkad and his descendants



Saar is a residential area in Bahrain, to the west of the capital, Manama.


Saar is the site of a temple, known as “Saar Temple”, built during the Dilmun era of Bahrain’s history. The temple was believed to have played an important role in marking the summer solstice.


Saar was discovered on a survey in 1977, and excavated in 1977-1979 under the direction of M. Ibrahim. Some unpublished work by a joint Bahraini-Jordanian expedition at Sarr in the 1980s. The London-Bahrain Archaeological Expedition was conducted at Saar between 1990 and 1999, led by Robert Killick, Jane Moon and Harriet Crawford.


Artifacts found within the households include copper fishhooks, bitumen nodules, and numerous shells from shellfish, including pearl oyster. The copper was produced in Bahrain; the bitumen imported from Mesopotamian quarry sites. Tiny seed pearls were found in the excavations, although they were probably too small to be used as ornaments.


Nearly 100 seals, used to seal packages, bales and jars, have been found at the Saar settlement, and 48 seals from the associated burial ground: this is very unusual for a small town and unmatched on Bahrain. Four or five seals were found in a single house. All of the seals are of the early Dilmun style.


(Important Note: ALL photographs of this article added to the sourced texts by NovoScriptorium after kind courtesy of our friend Ben Lee – ALL photographs originally taken by Ben Lee)

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