Foodstuffs and organic products in ancient south-east Arabia

Preliminary results of ceramic lipid residue analysis of vessels from Hili 8 and Hili North Tomb A, al Ain, United Arab Emirates


  • Akshyeta Suryanarayan Université Côte d’Azur, CNRS, UMR 7264, Cultures et Environnements Préhistoire, Antiquité, Moyen Âge (CEPAM)
  • Sophie Méry CNRS, UMR 6566, Centre de Recherche en Archéologie, Archéosciences, Histoire (CReAAH)
  • Arnaud Mazuy Université Côte d’Azur, CNRS, UMR 7264, Cultures et Environnements Préhistoire, Antiquité, Moyen Âge (CEPAM)
  • Martine Regert Université Côte d’Azur, CNRS, UMR 7264, Cultures et Environnements Préhistoire, Antiquité, Moyen Âge (CEPAM)


Ceramics, Lipid residues, Vessel use, Subsistence, Hili 8, Hili North Tomb A


Exchange networks in the Bronze Age between south-east Arabia, Mesopotamia, south-east Iran, south-west Pakistan, and the Indus Valley moved a variety of raw and finished products, especially pottery. However, we have little understanding of what organic products were a part of these exchange networks, as well as what foodstuffs were prepared in ceramic vessels as part of everyday activities. This paper presents the preliminary results of lipid residue analysis of local and imported vessels from Hili 8 and Hili North Tomb A in al-Ain, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Absorbed lipids were extracted and analysed via gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) from a range of vessels including local, regional, Indus, Mesopotamian, and Makran wares. A majority of the lipid profiles were indicative of degraded animal fats, although some vessels, including Fine Red Omani Ware and imported Black-Slipped Jars from the Indus Valley, had evidence of plant oils. Further analyses that will shed light on the possible origin of the animal fats and plant oils are ongoing. The preliminary results provide new insights into the use of pottery at Hili, with broader implications for our understanding of subsistence and exchange networks in the region.


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How to Cite

Suryanarayan, A., Méry, S., Mazuy, A., & Regert, M. (2022). Foodstuffs and organic products in ancient south-east Arabia: Preliminary results of ceramic lipid residue analysis of vessels from Hili 8 and Hili North Tomb A, al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 51, 379–401. Retrieved from

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