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Buried History Dug Out in Abu Dhabi

Late stone age artefacts revealed by new excavations on Marawah Island

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The earliest known inhabitants of Abu Dhabi have been uncovered by new archaeological excavations on the Marawah Island. This provides insight into life during the Late Stone Age in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region.

A programme of archaeological surveys carried out by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA) since 2012 has identified more than 20 major sites on the island, ranging in date from the Late Stone Age period (around 7,500 years ago) to the recent historical period, with two Late Stone Age villages discovered at the western end of Marawah Island, comprising a series of occupation mounds.

Flint Arrowheads collected from the surface of the sites

More than 200 flint arrowheads were collected from the surface of the sites, known as MR1 and MR11, while further excavations at MR11 have revealed a very interesting stone building rich in finds.

Mohammad Amer Al Niyadi, director of the Historic Environment Department at TCA, said, “The latest results from our excavations at the Late Stone Age village at MR11 on Marawah Island have produced outstanding results. We now have a clear idea of the plan and form of a 7,500-year-old house, which is one of the earliest known examples of stone-built architecture in the Gulf region.

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“One of the most important finds was the discovery of a human skeleton. This partial skeleton was inserted into one of the already semi-collapsed rooms of the house, indicating that the structure had originally been used as a house for the living, and then later as a house for the dead. This burial, found within the central room, was placed in a crouched position on its side with its head oriented towards the east. This form of burial is typical of other known Late Stone Age burials, such as those known from Jebel Buhais in Sharjah emirate, replicas of which can be seen in the Sharjah Archaeology Museum,” Al Niyadi added. A truly exciting time for the archaeology department!

Marawah Island is located around 100km to the west of Abu Dhabi, and is home to important marine and coastal ecosystems.

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