Hypothetical computer reconstruction of the village in Al Marawah Island 8,000 years ago. Image Credit: Department of Culture, Tourism

Abu Dhabi:

The discovery of an 8,000-year-old village (Neolithic period or late Stone Age) in Al Marawah Island in Abu Dhabi is just the tip of the iceberg and there could be more surprises in store, says Dr Mark Beech, Head of Archaeology and Palaeontology for the Al Dhafra and Abu Dhabi region at the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT).

According to him, further exploration could unearth more secrets from the first ever settlement in the region.

Radiocarbon dating

Early this year DCT conducted radiocarbon dating at Al Marawah to establish that the site belonged to the Stone Age.

“When the site was first discovered in the early 1990s we did not realise that it dated back to the Neolithic period. However we now know that this is probably the region’s earliest village whose inhabitants created a substantial settlement within the UAE.

“We have excavated only two mounds out of seven and I’m sure we are in for a lot more exciting surprises as we excavate the others,” he said.

The seven mounds, discovered back in 1992, were located on top of a limestone ridge.

The first mound had a well-constructed three-room house which displayed strong architecture and use of the locally available limestone for building material.

The second mound revealed a series of at least six further rooms. Dr Beech said the house structures challenge previous views that people during the Neolithic period were largely nomadic, as the structures show a more permanent form of settlement.

Further evidence suggests the inhabitants were seafaring folk who established trade connections and grazed domestic animals such as sheep and goat. A range of flintstone tools like arrowheads and scrapers indicate they were good craftsmen and hunters. “We found bones which suggest their diet consisted of fish, dugongs, dolphins and sea turtles. They made jewellery such as buttons and beads out of shells and stones,” he said.

Shedding more light

“Early in 2019 we will be continuing our excavations on the larger second mound. It is a delicate and intricate process, but will surely shed more light on the lifestyle they led,” he said.