The Neolithic of Sharbithāt (Dhofar, Sultanate of Oman): typological, technological, and experimental approaches


  • Maria Pia Maiorano
  • Grégor Marchand
  • Jérémie Vosges
  • Jean-François Berger
  • Federico Borgi
  • Vincent Charpentier


Sharbithāt, Middle Holocene, marine terraces, projectile points, Fasad controversy


Located between the last fringes of the al-Wusṭā Region and the plain of Dhofar (Ẓufār), the coastal plain of Sharbithāt has been scarcely explored. With its 14 km-long shoreline, its succession of wide terraces and wadi deltaic branches, and its abundant flint sources Sharbithāt represents one of the most promising Neolithic archaeological areas of the Omani coast. A first campaign in this area was therefore undertaken in January 2017 within the framework of the expedition programme 'Archaeology of the Arabian Seashores' and of the NeoArabia Project of the Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR). The Middle Holocene occupation in the surveyed terraces and low plateaus is particularly dense. Sites SHA-2, SHA-7, and SHA-10 revealed the presence of Neolithic dwellings (Late Neolithic period 2, c.4500-3100 BC) Moreover, in addition to the ordinary fishing equipment that characterizes this period, an astonishing lithic industry was also discovered. It consists of lunates, backed bladelets, and points made on flakes, similar to the so-called 'Fasad points' dating to the Early Holocene. The latter evidence suggests the use of this point type for a period longer than previously supposed or their attribution to the Late Neolithic, raising important chronological questions that must be carefully tested. Middle Neolithic occupation (c.6500-4500 BC) has also been identified at Sharbithāt SHA-4, an exceptional site that provided stone structures, at least one burial, many bifaces, several 'façonnage' products, and dozens of arrowheads with trihedral-shaped distal and plano-convex mesial. These types of projectile points were already known in the Ḥaḍramawt area in contexts dated between the sixth and fifth millennium but their chronological horizon in Oman must be further detailed with new dates.


Amirkhanov H. 1997. The Neolithic and post-Neolithic of Hadramaut and Mahra. Moscow: Scientific World.

Azzarà V.M. 2015. L’Architecture domestique et l’organisation de la maisonnée dans la péninsule d’Oman à l’âge du Bronze ancien. PhD thesis, Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. [Unpublished].

Beech M., Kallweit H. & Hellyer P. 2004. New archaeological investigations at Abu Dhabi Airport, United Arab Emirates. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 34: 1–15.

Berger J-F., Charpentier V., Crassard R., Martin C., Davtian G. & López-Sáez J.A. 2013. The dynamics of mangrove ecosystems, changes in sea level and the strategies of Neolithic settlements along the coast of Oman (6000–3000 cal. BC). Journal of Archaeological Science 40: 3087–3104.

Berger J-F., Cleuziou S., Davtian G., Cattani M., Cavulli F., Charpentier V. ... Saliège J-F. 2005. Évolution paléogéographique du JaΜalan (Oman) à l’Holocène moyen: Impact sur l’évolution des paléomilieux littoraux et les stratégies d’adaptation des communautés humaines. Paléorient 31/1: 46–63.

Biagi P. 1988. Surveys along the Oman Coast: Preliminary report in the 1985–1988 Campaigns. East and West 38/1–4: 271–291.

Biagi P. 1999. Excavations at the shell-midden of RH6 1986–1988 (Muscat, Sultanate of Oman). al-Rafidan 20: 57–84.

Biagi P. & Maggi R. 1990. Archaeological surveys along the Oman Coast. Preliminary results of five years research (1983–1897). Pages 544–553 in M. Taddei (ed.), South Asian Archaeology 1987 (Serie Orientale Roma, 66/1). Rome: Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente.

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. 2008. Hunter-gatherers of the ‘empty quarter of the early Holocene’ to the last Neolithic societies: chronology of the late prehistory of south-eastern Arabia (8000–3100 BC). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 38: 59–82.

Charpentier V. & Crassard R. 2013. Back to Fasad… and the PPNB controversy. Questioning a Levantine origin for Arabian Early Holocene projectile points technology. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 24/1: 28–36.

Charpentier V. & Inizan M-L. 2002. Fluting in the Old World: The Neolithic projectile points of Arabia. Lithic Technology 27/1: 39–46.

Charpentier V., Berger J-F., Crassard R., Borgi F. & Béarez P. 2016. Les premiers chasseurs collecteurs d’Arabie (IXe–IX millénaires avant notre ère). Pages 349–366 in C. Dupont & G. Marchand (eds), Archéologie des chasseurs-cueilleurs maritimes. De la fonction des habitats à l’organisation de l’espace littoral. Bulletin de la société préhistorique française. Séances de la Société préhistorique française de Rennes, 10–11 avril 2014. Available at

Charpentier V., Berger J-F., Crassard F., Lacaze M. & Davtian G. 2012. Prehistory and palaeo-geography of the coastal fringes of the Wahiba Sands and Bar al-Hikman, Sultanate of Oman. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 42: 57–78.

Cleuziou S. & Tosi M. 2007. In the shadow of the ancestors. The prehistoric foundations of the early Arabian civilization in Oman. Muscat: Ministry of Heritage and Culture.

Crassard R. 2008. La Préhistoire du Yémen. Diffusions et diversités locales, à travers l’étude d’industries lithiques du Hadramawt. (British Archaeological Reports, S1842). Oxford: Archaeopress.

Edens C. 1988. Archaeology of the Sands and adjacent portions of the Sharqiyah. Pages 113–130 in R.W. Dutton (ed.), The scientific results of the Royal Geographical Society’s Oman Wahiba Sands Project 1985–1987. (Journal of Oman Studies Special Report, 3). Muscat: Office of the Advisor for Conservation and the Environment, Diwan of the Royal Court.

Evans G., Murray J.W., Biggs H.E J., Bate R. & Bush P.R. 1973. The oceanography, ecology, sedimentology and geomorphology of parts of the Trucial Coast barrier island complex, Persian Gulf. Pages 233–277 in B.H. Purser (ed.), The Persian Gulf. Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer.

Gotoh T. 1981. A Stone Age Collection from the RubΜ al-Khali Desert’. Bulletin of the Ancient Orient Museum 3: 1–15.

Hoorn C. & Cremaschi M. 2004. L’histoire paléoenvironnementale de l’Holocène tardif de Khawr Rawri et Khawr Al Balid (Dhofar, Sultanat d’Oman). Paléogéographie, Paléoclimatologie, Paléoécologie 213/1: 1–36.

Inizan M-L., Lézine A-M., Marcolongo B., Saliège J-F., Robert C. & Werth F. 1998. Paléolacs et peuplements holocènes du Yémen: Le Ramlat as-SabΜatayn. Paléorient 23/2: 137–149.

Kallweit H. 2004. Lithics from the Emirates: the Abu Dhabi Airport sites. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 34: 139–145.

Kapel H. 1967. Atlas of the Stone Age cultures of Qatar. Report of the Danish Archaeological Expedition to the Arabian Gulf. i. (Jutland Archaeological Society, 6) Aarhus: University Press.

Kelterborn P. 1984. Towards replicating of Egyptian Predynastic flint knives. Journal of Archaeological Science 11: 433–453.

Kroeber T. 2011. Ishi in two worlds, 50th anniversary edition: A biography of the last wild Indian in North America. New York/Tokyo: Ishi Press.

Lambeck K. 1996. Shoreline reconstructions for the Persian Gulf since the last glacial maximum. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 142/1–2: 43–57.

Maggi R. & Gebel H.G. 1990. A preliminary report on the chipped stone industries of the middle-Holocene shell-midden communities of RaΜs al-Hamra 5 layer 1 (Muscat-Sultanate of Oman). Rivista di Archeologia 14: 5–24.

Millet M. 1988. Survey of the Sharjah Coast. Sharjah Archaeology 4: 21–30.

Nunn G. 2006. Using the Jutland Type IC Neolithic Danish Dagger as a model to replicate parallel, edge-to-edge pressure flaking. Pages 81–133 in J. Apel & K. Knutsson (eds), Skilled production and social reproduction: Aspects on traditional stone-tool technologies. (Societas Archaeoloica Upsaliensis (SAU) Studies, 2). Uppsala: Uppsala University.

Plaziat J.C. 1990. Influence of the recent environmental evolution of the JaΜalan shoreline on the Protohistoric human diet. Rapport pour la quatrième campagne du Joint Hadd Project. [Unpublished].

Pullar J. 1985. A selection of aceramic sites in the Sultanate of Oman. Journal of Oman Studies 7: 49–87.

Rose J. & Hilbert Y. 2014. New prehistoric sites in the southern RubΜ al-Khali desert, Oman. Antiquity, project gallery. Available at

Smith G.H. 1973. Al-Da’asa, Site 46: an Arabian Neolithic camp site of the fifth millennium. Qatar Archaeological Report: Excavations 71: 53–75.

Uerpmann H-P., Potts D.T. & Uerpmann M. 2009. Holocene (re-)occupation of eastern Arabia. Pages 205–210 in M.D. Petraglia & J.I. Rose (eds), The Evolution of human populations in Arabia. Paleoenvironments, prehistory and genetics. New York: Springer.

Uerpmann H-P., Uerpmann M., Kutterer A. & Jasim S.A. 2013. The Neolithic period in the Central Region of the Emirate of Sharjah (UAE). Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 24/1: 102–108.

Vita-Finzi C. 2002. Neotectonics on the Arabian Sea

coasts. Pages 87–96 in P.D. Clift, D. Kroon,

C. Gaedicke et J. Craig (eds), The tectonic and climatic evolution of the Arabian Sea region. (Geological Society Special Publications, 195). London: Geological Society.

Williams A.H. & Walkden G.M. 2002. Late Quaternary highstand deposits of the southern Arabian Gulf: a record of sea-level and climate change. Pages 371–386 in P.D. Clift, D. Kroon, C. Gaedicke & J. Craig (eds), The tectonic and climatic evolution of the Arabian Sea region. (Geological Society Special Publications, 195). London: Geological Society.

Zarins J. 2001. The land of incense. Archaeological work in the Governate of Dhofar, Sultanate of Oman 1990–1995. The Project of the National Committee for the supervision of Archaeological survey in the Sultanate, Ministry of Information. Sultan Qaboos University Publications. (Archaeology & Cultural Heritage Series, 1). Sultanate of Oman: al-Nahda.



How to Cite

Maiorano, M. P., Marchand, G., Vosges, J., Berger, J.-F., Borgi, F., & Charpentier, V. (2018). The Neolithic of Sharbithāt (Dhofar, Sultanate of Oman): typological, technological, and experimental approaches. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 48, 219–235. Retrieved from

Most read articles by the same author(s)