Exclusive pics of the tombs beneath the surface of A'ali
Time Out Bahrain staff
The H-shaped tomb has alcoves on each side which are believed to be some form of transition space, allowing the spirit of the departed to pass on. Bodies found in many of the tombs have been specifically placed in these rooms, each facing the same way.
The back wall of the sandbox, these boxes would have gone all the way up to the roof forming a deep vertical shaft to protect the plaster work which have been very expensive.
The bedrock inner wall of a royal tomb at mound O where you can see 4000-year-old hand scrapes in the limestone plasterwork. The square holes would have been for wooden scaffolding as these walls would have been up to 15m high and, as each layer was constructed, a sandbox would have been filled around it to support and conceal it.
The ringwall around the tomb. Built from bedrock, probably quarried in Bahrain’s vast central plain, these huge stones circled the whole mound and as each layer was finished the outer mound would be built around them. The end structure would have resembled a tiered wedding cake.
The entrance to mound O, the shaft you can just see in the picture would have gone all the way up to the roof and the burial chamber would have been completely concealed.
The transition alcove in a smaller noble tomb on the other side of the highway. The arrangement of these tombs indicates that, even in death, the more important the noble, the closer to the royals they were interred. This tomb is deep in the mound and not for the faint-hearted but shows how the plaster was fixed to the bedrock and also gives a good indication of the transitional alcoves which were at the end of a corridor.
The initials NEF and date 1917 are inscribed on the wall of the noble’s tomb, believed to be from earlier investigations (though archaeologists are adamant none of them would have carried out such graffiti!).
Dr Laursen in the doorway to the underground tomb.
An alcove at the rear of the royal burial chamber showing the size of the bedrock stones set into the surrounding mound.
An alcove showing the base/floor of the upper chamber which formed the roof of the lower chamber in the two-storey royal burial mound.