BAHRAIN's ancient burial mounds are under threat of being wiped out due to population needs and construction projects, says a local historian.
Bahrain University Islamic History Professor Ali Al Shehab said while Bahrain and other Gulf countries were developing their infrastructure, historical sites were suffering.
"Developing countries need more land, so they demolish historical sites such as the graves in Saar and A'ali," he told the GDN.
"According to history books there are more than 800,000 graves in Bahrain and it has one of the biggest cemeteries in the world, but it's facing problems.
"We are looking at ways to protect these sites.
"We are speaking with governments in the Gulf to protect these (historical sites), it is very important to our civilisation."
Professor Al Shehab was speaking on the sidelines of a four-day scientific conference, which concludes at the Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel today.
The GCC Society for History and Archaeology Eighth Scientific Forum has attracted 150 archaeologists and historians from the GCC.
Twenty-eight papers are being presented on various topics, including Oman's civilisation, history of the Arabian Peninsula, the role of statues in the Tylos era, history of rituals during the Dilmun era and commercial ties between the Arabian Gulf and East Asian countries.
In addition to lectures, there are educational visits to historical sites in Bahrain.
It is held under the patronage of Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs chairman Shaikh Abdulla bin Khalid Al Khalifa.
The majority of burial mounds in Bahrain date back to the second and third centuries.
Bahrain is considered to be the site of the largest prehistoric cemetery in the world, and the sheer number of burial mounds has led archaeologists to speculate that inhabitants of the Arabian mainland used the island as a pre-historic burial ground.
The oldest and largest burial mounds, referred to as the Royal Tombs, are found at A'ali and measure up to 15 metres in height and 45 metres in diameter.