Neolithic settlement patterns and subsistence strategies on Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates
Keywords:Neolithic, Settlement, Architecture, Subsistence, Arabian Gulf
Recent work has revealed that there are three major Neolithic settlements present on Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi, known as MR1, MR2.5, and MR11. Excavations at the settlement of MR11 are radically changing our ideas of Neolithic architecture, in particular the spatial organization of settlements. MR11 comprises a group of seven mounds (Areas A to G), the first of which (Area A) was subject to excavation in 2003 and 2004 (Beech et al. 2005). Work has continued every year since 2014 on Areas A, B, C, and F. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal fragments have demonstrated that this settlement was occupied from c.8000 to 6500 years ago (Beech et al. 2019). The excavation of each of these areas revealed different forms of architecture. It is now clear that a part of the tripartite house in Area A post-dates an earlier building. Areas B and C comprise a series of differently shaped rooms and paved areas with multiple entrances. Preliminary excavations on Area F indicate the presence of a multi-celled structure that is very different in character from the other areas. Some of the key finds from the excavations are discussed, including lithics, plaster vessels, fish bones, marine shells, mineralized date stones, and radiocarbon dates.
ADIAS. 2006. Marawah MR1 radiocarbon dates. URL: www.adias-uae.com/radiocarbon.html#MR1dates (Accessed 10 December 2021.)
Beech M. 2002. Fishing in the ‘Ubaid: A review of fish-bone assemblages from early prehistoric coastal settlements in the Arabian Gulf. Journal of Oman Studies 12: 25–40.
Beech M. 2003. Archaeobotanical evidence for early date consumption in the Arabian Gulf. Pages 11–31 in ECSSR (ed.), The Date Palm – From traditional resource to green wealth. Abu Dhabi: Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.
Beech M.J. 2004. In the Land of the Ichthyophagi: Modelling fish exploitation in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman from the 5th millennium BC to the late Islamic period. (Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, Monograph 1). (British Archaeological Reports International Series S1217). Oxford: Archaeopress.
Beech M. 2010. The Animal and fish bones. Pages 129–156 in R. Carter & H. Crawford (eds), Maritime interactions in the Arabian Neolithic – The evidence from H3, As-Sabiyah, an Ubaid-related site in Kuwait. (American School of Prehistoric Research Monograph Series, 8). Leiden: Brill.
Beech M. & Elders J. 1999. An ‘Ubaid-related settlement on Dalma Island, Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates. Bulletin of the Society of Arabian Studies 4: 17–21.
Beech M. & Shepherd E. 2001. Archaeobotanical evidence for early date consumption on Dalma Island, United Arab Emirates. Antiquity 75: 83–89.
Beech M.J., Charpentier V. & Méry S. 2017. Evidence for deep-sea fishing and cultural identity during the Neolithic period at Akab Island, Umm al-Qaiwain, United Arab Emirates. Pages 331–338 in M. Mashkour & M. Beech (eds), Archaeozoology of the Near East 9 – 9th meeting of the archaeozoology of South-West Asia and adjacent areas. (Publication of the 9th Meeting of ASWA to honour the contribution of Hans-Peter Uerpmann and François Poplin to the archaeozoology of Southwest Asia). (2 volumes). Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Beech M., Elders J. & Shepherd E. 2000. Reconsidering the ‘Ubaid of the southern Gulf: New results from excavations on Dalma Island, U.A.E. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 30: 41–47.
Beech M., Cuttler R., Moscrop D., Kallweit H. & Martin J. 2005. New evidence for the Neolithic settlement of Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 35: 37–56.
Beech M.J., Cuttler R.T.H., Al Kaabi A.K., El Faki A.A., Martin J., Al Hameli N.H. … Crassard R. 2019. Excavations at MR11 on Marawah Island (Abu Dhabi, UAE): New insight into the architecture and planning of Arabian Neolithic settlements and early evidence for pearling. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 31/1: 19–31.
Beech M.J., Strutt S., Blue L., Al-Kaabi A.K., Omar W.A., Al-Haj El-Faki A.A. … Martin J. 2016. ‘Ubaid-related sites of the southern Gulf revisited: The Abu Dhabi Coastal Heritage Initiative. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 46: 9–24.
Bernier P., Dalongeville R., Dupuis B. & Medwecki V. 1995. Holocene shoreline variations in the Persian Gulf: Example of the Umm al-Qowayn lagoon (UAE). Quaternary International 29–30: 95–103.
Bieliński P. 2019. Chalcolithic settlement of Bahra 1 and its possible functions. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 31/1: 63–68.
Bieliński P. & Szymczak A. (eds). 2016. Bahra 1. Excavations in 2014 and 2015. Preliminary report on the sixth and seventh seasons of Kuwaiti-Polish archaeological investigations. Kuwait: National Council for Culture Arts and Letters of the State of Kuwait/Warsaw: Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology.
Bird M.I., Austin W.E.N., Wurster C.M., Fifield L.K., Mojtahid M. & Sargeant C. 2010. Punctuated eustatic sea-level rise in the early mid-Holocene. Geology 38/9: 803–806.
Bosch D.T., Dance S.P., Moolenbeek R.G. & Oliver P.G. 1995. Seashells of eastern Arabia. Dubai: Motivate Publishing.
Carter R. 2003. Tracing Bronze age trade in the Arabian Gulf: Evidence for way-stations of the merchants of Dilmun between Bahrain and the Northern Emirates. Pages 123–131 in D.T. Potts, H. Al Naboodah & P. Hellyer (eds), Archaeology of the United Arab Emirates – Proceedings of the International Conference on the Archaeology of the U.A.E. London: Trident Press.
Carter R. 2006. Boat remains and maritime trade in the Persian Gulf during the sixth and fifth millennia BC. Antiquity 80: 52–63.
Carter R. 2018. Globalising interactions in the Arabian Neolithic and the Ubaid. Pages 43–79 in N. Boivin & M.D. Frachetti (eds), Globalisation in prehistory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Carter R. & Crawford H. (eds). 2010. Maritime interactions in the Arabian Neolithic: The evidence from H3, As-Sabiyah, an Ubaid related site in Kuwait. Leiden: Brill.
Cavulli F. & Scaruffi S. 2020. The deposit of KHB-1, Ra’s al Khabbah (Ja’lān region, Sultanate of Oman): Stratigraphy, features and structures. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 31/2: 1–18.
Charpentier V. 2004. Trihedral points: A new facet to the ‘Arabian Bifacial Tradition’? Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 34: 53–66.
Charpentier V. & Beech M.J. (forthcoming). The lithic assemblage from MR1, a Neolithic settlement on Marawah Island. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy.
Charpentier V., Marquis P. & Pellé E. 2003. La nécropole et les derniers horizons Ve millénaire du site de Gorbat al-Mahar (Suwayh, SWY-1, Sultanat d’Oman): Premiers résultats. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 33: 11–19.
Charpentier V., Méry S. & Phillips C. 2004. Des coquillages… outillages des Ichtyophages? Mise en évidence d’industries sur Veneridae, du Néolithique à l’âge du Fer (Yémen, Oman, E.A.U.). Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 15/1: 1–10.
Charpentier V., Phillips C.S. & Méry S. 2012. Pearl fishing in the ancient world 7500 BP. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 23: 1–6.
Crassard R., Charpentier V., McCorriston J., Vosges J., Bouzid S. & Petraglia M.D. 2020. Fluted-point technology in Neolithic Arabia: An independent invention far from the Americas. PLoS One 15/8. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236314
Cuttler R.T.H. & Al-Naimi F.A. 2013. From land-locked desert to maritime nation: Understanding taphonomic processes and landscape evolution in Qatar and the Arabian Peninsula from 14,000BP. Adumatu 28: 7–22.
DCT. 2019. Archaeological discoveries: Marawah Island (p. 120), Ghagha Island (p. 121) in 2019 Annual Report. i. Culture. Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi). URL: https://tcaabudhabi.ae/en/media.centre/2019.annual.report.aspx (Accessed June 2021.)
Drechsler P. 2018. Dosariyah: An Arabian Neolithic coastal community in the central Gulf. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Evans G., Kirkham A. & Carter R.A. 2002. Quaternary development of the United Arab Emirates coast: New evidence from Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi. GeoArabia 7: 441–458.
Flavin K. & Shepherd E. 1994. Fishing in the Gulf: Preliminary investigations at an Ubaid site, Dalma (UAE). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 24: 115–134.
Al Hameli N.H., Magee P., Joyner L. & Carter R. (forthcoming). The plaster vessels. In M.J. Beech & E. Popescu (eds), Excavations at the Ubaid related settlement on Delma Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE. (Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi – Publication Series). Oxford: Archaeopress.
Inizan M-L. 1988. Préhistoire à Qatar: Mission archaéologique française à Qatar. ii. Paris: CNRS.
Joyner L. 2001. ‘Ubaid plaster technology at Dalma Island, Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey (ADIAS) website. URL: www.adias-uae.com/plaster.html (Accessed 24 August 2021.)
Kallweit H. & Beech M.J. 2020. Some remarks on the lithic assemblage from a coastal Ubaid-related settlement site on Delma Island, Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates. Pages 121–135 in K. Bretzke, R. Crassard & Y.H. Hilbert (eds), Stone tools of prehistoric Arabia. (Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 50, Supplement). Oxford: Archaeopress.
Kiesewetter H., Uerpmann H-P. & Jasim S. 2000. Neolithic jewellery from Jebel al-Buhais 18. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 30: 137–146.
King G.R.D. 1998. Abu Dhabi Islands archaeological survey. London: Trident Press.
Kingery D.W., Vandiver P.B. & Prickett M. 1988. The beginnings of pyrotechnology, part II: Production and use of lime and gypsum plaster in the pre-pottery Neolithic Near East. Journal of Field Archaeology 15/2: 219–243.
Lidour K. (forthcoming). Four decades among the Ichthyophagi – A 40 year’s review of fish exploitation and consumption during the Neolithic in eastern Arabia.
Lidour K. & Beech M.J. 2019a. At the dawn of Arabian fisheries. Fishing activities of the inhabitants of the Neolithic tripartite house of Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi Emirate (United Arab Emirates). Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 2019:00:1–11. doi: 10.1111/aae.12134
Lidour K. & Beech M. 2019b. ‘The numerous islands of Ichthyophagi’: Neolithic fisheries of Delma Island, Abu Dhabi Emirate (UAE). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 49: 207–222.
Magee P. 2014. The Archaeology of prehistoric Arabia: Adaptation and social formation from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Maiorano M.P., Crassard R., Charpentier V. & Bortolini E. 2020. A quantitative approach to the study of Neolithic projectile points from southeastern Arabia. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 31: 151–167.
Marcucci L.G., Badel E. & Genchi F. 2021. The Archaeological heritage of Oman. vi. Prehistoric fisherfolk of Oman – The Neolithic village of Ras Al-Hamra RH-5. Sultanate of Oman: Ministry of Heritage and Tourism/Oxford: Archaeopress.
Méry S. & Charpentier V. 2013. Neolithic material cultures of Oman and the Gulf seashores from 5500–4500 BCE. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 24: 73–78.
Méry S., Charpentier V. & Beech M. 2008. First evidence of shell fish-hook technology in the Gulf. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 19: 15–21.
Méry S., Blackman M.J., Beech M.J. & Lidour K. 2016a. 5500 av. notre ère: Le vase de Marawah MR11 et l’Obeid du Golfe. Pages 155–174 in B. Perello & A. Tenu (eds), Parcours d’Orient: Recueil de textes offert à Christine Kepinski. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Méry S., Gasparini D., Basset G., Berger J-F., Berthelot A., Borgi F. … Mc Sweeney K. 2016b. Mort violente en Arabie. La sépulture multiple d’Umm al-Quwain UAQ2 (Émirats arabes unis), VIe millénaire BC. Pages 349–369 in G. Marchand & C. Dupont (eds), Archéologie des chasseurs-cueilleurs maritimes. De la fonction des habitats à l’organisation de l’espace littoral. Actes de la scéance de la Société préhistorique française de Rennes 10–11 avril 2014. Paris: Société préhistorique française.
Rutkowski L. & Zakrzewski P. (eds). 2014. As-Sabbiya – Autumn 2013. Report on the ninth season of joint Kuwaiti-Polish archaeological investigations in Kuwait: Bahra 1, Ubaid culture related settlement (5th season) – Autumn 2013. Warsaw: Kuwaiti-Polish Archaeological Mission (KPAM) Publications.
Shepherd-Popescu E. 2003. The Neolithic settlement sites on the islands of Dalma and Marawah, U.A.E. Pages 45–54 in D.T. Potts, H. Naboodah & P. Hellyer (eds), Archaeology of the United Arab Emirates: Proceedings of the first international conference on the archaeology of the UAE. London: Trident Press.
Stanford J.D., Hemmingway R., Rohling E.J., Challenor P.G., Medina-Elizalde M. & Lester A.J. 2011. Sea-level probability for the last deglaciation: A statistical analysis of far-field records. Global and Planetary Change 79: 193–203.
Thomas R.J., Ellison R.A. & Goodenough K.M. 2013. Emergent miocene salt domes of the UAE: Probes into the distant past. Pages 47–73 in R.J. Thomas & R.A. Ellison (eds), Geological evolution of the United Arab Emirates. Over six hundred million years of Earth History. Abu Dhabi: Department of Geology and Mineral Resources, Ministry of Energy.
How to Cite
Archaeopress Publishing, Oxford, UK