Not far from the Portuguese Fort is Barbar Temple, an excavated complex dating back to the third millennium BC. It’s quite small and less is known about it than other Dilmun temples. One thing that is known is that it is very, very old – dating back to the second millennium BC.
From burial mounds to the Tree of Life, plus a lesson in pottery. We now drive out to A’ali village, famous for its pottery traditions. Once again I’m delighted to have a very photogenic subject with pots of many different styles and sizes being created on traditional potter’s wheels. Again it’s a super place for locally made souvenir items to take home. I decided against buying any for the sole reason I need two hands free for shooting.
It’s an experience to see and photograph the clay being prepared. This is done by hand, or I should say foot, because the way it is softened is by stamping all over a large wedge of it with bare feet, over and over, until it is pliable. Terrific for close up shots with a difference. The old kilns are still used to fire the pieces and the styles are representative of pottery found at ancient Dilmun sites, so you can be assured that this is a truly traditional place worth visiting.
A’ali village is also where you will find the largest prehistoric cemetery in the world. There are literally thousands of ancient burial mounds here, naturally weathered with time. The mounds date back to between 600 AD and 3000 BC. Few are actually intact, their contents having been looted over the centuries. A visit to A’ali is a must to appreciate the sheer scale of a burial mound.
Our next port of call is Riffa Fort, with its splendid view across the Hunenaiya Valley. Built in 1812, it looks mighty impressive as you approach it, high up on a hill. As you get closer, especially with good sunlight playing on its walls and turrets and a blue sky beyond, there are plenty of camera angles to be found.
While you are there it’s also well worth waiting for the juxtaposition of visitors and people in the foreground to give a true impression of its size. Other great shots are available at night when it looks splendid under strong illuminations, especially at a distance. Again, wait until dusk when there is still some daylight left and with the camera on a tripod you can set a time exposure to record the illuminated walls and still have detail in the hills around plus a dark blue sky before darkness falls.
Not too far from here is Bahrain’s famous Tree of Life, so naturally this was next on our itinerary. This tree is something quite unique. It stands in solitary splendor in the desert, a fully grown, green-leafed tree, with nothing else but sand for miles around! It is thought the tree is being fed by an underground stream, but that doesn’t explain the complete lack of vegetation around it.
Low lying branches of the tree are covered with graffitti.