All posts by beech

Head of Coastal Heritage and Palaeontology Section, Historic Environment Department, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)

Archaeology 2018 Conference – Danat Al Ain Resort – 26-29 March 2018

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi is pleased to organise ‘The Archaeology 2018 Conference’ in Al Ain.

Speakers will present the results of their latest research on the archaeology of the UAE. Focussed discussions will also address issues of conservation, public presentation of archaeological discoveries, and the role Museums play in communicating the UAE’s archaeological heritage  to the public.

The conference will feature over 30 papers with topics ranging from the earliest human settlement of the UAE (over 100,000 years ago), to  the recent history of settlement on Saadiyat island.

​The conference will include a special session on the Legacy of Sheikh Zayed and the Archaeology of the UAE chaired by Salama Al Shamsi (Senior Project Manager, Zayed National Museum).


Archaeology ’18 Conference

26th-30th March 2018

March 26th. St. Regis Hotel Abu Dhabi –
Danat Al Ain Resort

8:00-10:00: For international guests: breakfast and checkout, St Regis Hotel Abu Dhabi

10:00-12:00: Transportation from Abu Dhabi to Danat Al Ain Resort

12:00-1:30: Arrival, and check in, Danat Al Ain Resort

1:30-2:30: Lunch, Danat Al Ain Resort

3:00-3:45: Welcoming ceremony

3:45-4:05: Coffee Break

Session 1. Palaeoenvironment and Early Human Settlement

Chair: Peter Magee

4:10-4:30: Mark Beech, Faysal Bibi, Brian Kraatz, Waled Omar, Ahmed al Faki, Mubarak Al Mazrouei, When Elephants walked in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra region: new evidence for a series of Late Miocene Proboscidean trackways

4:35-4:55:  Damien Arhan, Pavlopoulos Kosmas and Eric Fouache, Holocene relative sea-level variations along the Arabian Gulf : a new perspective

5:00-5:20: Margareta Tengberg, Charlène Bouchaud and Vladimir Dabrowski, The introduction and cultivation of summer-crops in the Arabian Peninsula: a critical review of the archaeobotanical evidence

5:30-6:00: Coffee Break

Session 2. The Neolithic in the UAE.

Chair: Omar al Kaabi

6:00-6:20: Sophie Méry, The Neolithic site of Umm al Quwain UAQ2, recent discoveries

6:25-6:45: Mark Jonathan Beech, Marjan Mashkour, Terry O’Connor, Antoine Zazzo, Gourguen Davtian, Abdulla Khalfan Al Kaabi, Ahmed Abdulla Elhag Elfaki, William Higgs, Sonia O’Connor, Karyne Debue, Anne Mortimer, Kirk Roberts, Adrian Parker and Ash Parton, Neolithic camel hunters of Baynunah (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

6:50-7:10: Mark J. Beech, Richard T.H. Cuttler, Olivier Brunet, John Martin, Abdulla Khalfan Al Kaabi, Ahmed Abdalla Elhag Elfaki, Howell Magnus Roberts, Kirk Roberts, Peter Spencer and Dominic Tomasi, Recent archaeological excavations at MR11, Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

7:30: Dinner.

March 27th.
Danat Al Ain Resort

8:00-8:45: Breakfast

Session 3. The Legacy of Sheikh Zayed and the Archaeology of the UAE

Chair: Salama Al Shamsi

8:50-9:00: Salama Al Shamsi, Introductory Remarks on the Zayed National Museum Project)

9:00-9:20: Peter Hellyer, The role of Sheikh Zayed in the formation of ADIAS

9:25-9:45: Peter Magee, The origins of archaeological fieldwork in the UAE in the context of Near Eastern archaeological practice

9:50-10:10: Derek Kennet, The archaeological roots of the United Arab Emirates

10:15-10:30: Coffee Break

Session 4:  Bronze Age Transitions I

Chair: Derek Kennet

10:30-10:50: Christian Velde, The Hafit Period in Ras al-Khaimah

10:55-11:15: Louise Purdue, Sophie Costa, Maël Crépy, Julien Charbonnier, Gourguen Davtian, Hatem Djerbi , Alain Carré, Clément Virmoux, Claude Rouvier, The Ras al-Khaimah oasis project: formation, evolution and socio-environmental dynamics. Results of the 2017 field campaign in the oasis of Dhayah

11:20-11:40: Julia Schoenicke and Salah Hassan, Settlement continuity in Qidfah 3, Fujaira, UAE

11:45-12:05: Julien Charbonnier, Maria Paola Pellegrino, Michele Degli Esposti, Aurélien Hamel Sabine Sorin and Anne Benoist, From the Bronze to the Iron Age: Recent excavations at Masafi-5 (Emirate of Fujairah)

 12:10-1:30: Lunch

Session 5. Bronze Age Transitions II

Chair: Steffen Laursen

1:35-1:55: Knut Bretzke and Sabah Jasim, Paleolithic research in Sharjah: achievements and future prospects

2:00-2:20: Lloyd Weeks, Charlotte Cable, K. Franke, Claire Newton, Steven Karacic, James Roberts, Ivan Stepanov, Helene David-Cuny, Yousif Ali Al Ali, Mansour Boraik Radwan Karim and Hassan Mohammed Zein, Temporary desert sites in SE Arabia’s late prehistoric settlement systems: Insights from Saruq al-Hadid, Dubai

2:25-2:45: Kristina Pfeiffer and Salah Hassan, Late Bronze/Iron Age Populations Reconsidered: Recent Research in the Emirate of Fujairah

2:50-3:10: Marc Handel and Steven Karacic, Tell Abraq in the second millennium BC

3:15-3:35: Mansour Boraik Radwan Karim and Helene David, Seals of Sarooq al-Hadid

3:40-4:00: Fernando Contreras, Julio Ramos, Ella Magri, Ahmed Mahmud, Yaaqoub Yousif Ali Al Ali, Mansour Boraik Radwan Karim, Hassan Mohammed Zein, Survey and Archaeological Interventions in the Hatta Tombs, Dubai, UAE (presented by Ella Magri on Day 3)

4:30: Meet in lobby

4:45: Arrival to QAC and the basement site visit (coffee break with the traditional Emirati’s sweets, coffee and dates)

5:50-6:30: Arrival to the Jahili Fort and Trucial Scouts Exhibit.

6:50-7:40: Arrival and visit to the Qasr al Muwaiji

8:00: Arrival at hotel and dinner

March 28th. Danat Al Ain Resort

7:30-8:30: Breakfast

Session 6. Conservation Planning and Traditional Architecture

Chair: Peter Sheehan

8:30-8:50: Hilal Khan, Al Jazirat Al Hamrah Traditional Town: an introduction to the conservation and revitalization project

8:55-9:15: Rami Daher, Aqeel Ahmed Aqeel, Rana Zureikat, Franco Sciorilli, Conservation of the Church and Cistern at Sir Bani Yas

9:20-9:40: Gaetano Palumbo, Aqeel Ahmed Aqeel, Amel Chabbi, Testing the effects of shelters on exposed earthen structures through long-term environmental monitoring at Hili 2, Al Ain, UAE.

9:45-10:05: Noor al-Huda Farhan Al Soukhni, Conservation of Saruq al-Hadid (Dubai, UAE) archaeological objects

10:10-10:30: Dia Eddin Abdullah Al Tawallbeh, The traditional house (Bait Altyn) at Al Ain: Architectural and decorative elements characteristics

10:30-10:45: Coffee Break

Session 7. The Iron Age in the UAE

Chair: Hamdan Rashed al Rashedi

10:45-11:05: Tatiana Valente, Fernando Contreras, Ahmed Mahmud, Yaaqoub Yousif Ali Al Ali, Mansour Boraik Radwan Karim, Excavations in Area 2A of Saruq al-Hadid (Dubai, UAE): Iron Age II evidence for copper production, workshop area and ceremonial activities.

11:10-11:30: Armando Gonzalez and Carlos Fernandez Death and human remains in Iron Age Oman Peninsula: a multidisciplinary approach

11:35-11:55: Carmen de Cerro, Dig an ancient oasis’. Last seasons of work (2015-2018)  at al Madam (Sharjah)

1200-12:20: Steve Karacic, Settlement Organization in Iron Age II sites of the United Arab Emirates

12:25-12:45: Peter Sheehan, Timothy Power and Anne Benoist, Discovery and exploration of an Iron Age sequence at the Bayt Bin Ati, Qattara Oasis, al-Ain

1:10-2:20: Lunch

Chair: Mark Beech.

Session 8. From the Late Pre-Islamic to the Recent Past I

2:30-2:50 Bruno Overlaet, Tombs and burial customs in the Late Pre-Islamic period – a status quaestionis

2:55-3:15. Joseph Elders, The Christian monastery on Sir Bani Yas island: planned expansion and disorderly decline?

3:20-3:40: Hamdan Rashed al Rashedi, Archaeological discoveries in the light of the field survey in Abu Dhabi

3:45-4:05: Peter Sheehan, Timothy Power, Omar Salem Al Kaabi, Afra Hamad Al Jenaibi, Mai Hareb Al Mansoori and Myriam Saleh Al Dhaheri, Al Ain Oases Mapping Project: Al Ain Oasis, 2018

4:10-4:40: Coffee Break

Session 9. From the Late Pre-Islamic to the Recent Past II


4:45-5:05: Afra Hamad Al Jenaibi, Mai Hareb Al Mansoori, Timothy Power, Mark Beech, Richard Cutler, Robert Parthesius and Heiko Kallweit, Broken Pot Sherds on a Desert Island: Pottery Analysis from the Saadiyat Coastal Heritage Project, 2015-17

5:10-5:30: Peter Sheehan, Timothy Power, Omar Salem Al Kaabi, Mohammed Mattar Al Dhaheri and Mohammed Khalifa, Forts, Finds and Follies: Recent steps towards understanding the cultural landscape of Liwa and Al Dhafra

5:35-5:55: Timothy Power, Mark Horton, Omar Salem al-Kaabi, Mohamed Matar al-Dhaheri, Myriam Saleh al-Dhaheri, Noura Hamed al-Hameli, Henry Webber and Rosie Ireland, The Zanzibar Trade of the Emirates: New Perspectives from the Zayed University Excavations at the Old Fort at Zanzibar

7:00: Dinner.

March 29th Danat Al Ain Resort– St. Regis Hotel Abu Dhabi

8:00-9:00: Breakfast, Danat Al Ain Resort

9:00-10:00: Check out and gather in lobby, Danat Al Ain Resort

10:00-12:30: Travel to Abu Dhabi

12:30-1:30: Check in. St. Regis. Hotel Abu Dhabi

1:30-2:30: Lunch, St. Regis. Hotel Abu Dhabi

2:30-3:00: Gather in Lobby

3:00-6:00: Louvre Abu Dhabi, Visit



Podcast DCT – The Evidence from the Abu Dhabi Islands

Visit the new Department of Culture and Tourism Podcasts page and hear about some of our latest archaeological work on Abu Dhabi’s Islands:


Listen to the March 1st 2018 Podcast – The Evidence from the Abu Dhabi Islands – Peter Magee (25 mins, english).


There is also an arabic translation of the podcast about the archaeological evidence from the Abu Dhabi Islands (arabic, 18 minutes).


L’aube de la navigation dans le Golfe Arabe – Trouvailles faites dans les îles d’Abou Dhabi
– a french version of the podcast is also available on the mobile phone app version



Zayed National Museum team visits Marawah excavations

On Wednesday 28th February 2018 we had a visit to the Marawah MR11 excavations from a team from the Zayed National Museum (Noura Al Moubarak and Emma Thompson) accompanied by Peter Magee (Head of Archaeology at the Historic Environment Department at the Department of Culture and Tourism).

Here is a nice selfy of the MR11 archaeological team plus visitors. In a clockwise direction from the giant selfy stick holder: Howell Magnus RobertsAlan SartoriRichard CuttlerKirk Roberts, Samander Khan, Zahir Khan, Abdulla Jalil Muhammad, John Martin, Mark Jonathan Beech, Rashid Ali, Peter Spencer, Peter Magee, Emma Thompson, and Noura Al Mubarak.

Excavations continue on Marawah Island

Excavations are continuing at the MR11 site on Marawah Island. The new field season began on 12 February 2018 and continues for six weeks until the 22nd March 2018.

The team includes: Dr Mark Jonathan Beech (Director), Dr Richard Howard Thorburn Cuttler (Deputy Director), Abdulla Khalfan Al Kaabi (not present in picture) and Ahmed Abdalla El Hag El Faki, Zahir Khan, Samander Khan, Abdul Jalil Muhammad, and Rashid Ali Mohammed Akrab – all from the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT), as well as the following external senior archaeological consultants: John Martin (not present in picture), Howell Magnus Roberts, Kirk Kendrick Roberts, Peter Thomas Spencer and Dominic Alan Tomasi.


Attended Preview Opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi

Attended the Private Preview of the Galleries of Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum on Friday 10th November 2017. The Museum opens to the public tomorrow, on Saturday 11th November 2017.

It was great to see so many amazing things as I wandered around with friends and colleagues. I feel especially proud that some of our own archaeological discoveries are featured in the Museum. They include the Ubaid vase from Marawah Island, some Bronze Age pottery from Hili, a Carnelian necklace from Hili, a Dilmun stamp seal from the Bronze Age site on Sir Bani Yas Island, and a plaster stucco panel from the Sir Bani Yas Church.

For more information about the Louvre Abu Dhabi visit:


Chairman & DG of Department of Culture & Tourism visit Marawah excavations

The Chairman and  Director General of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi visited the island of Marawah on 23 October 2017 to see the excavations. 

From left to right: Dr Olivier Brunet, Rita Aoun-Abdo, Dr RIchard Cuttler, Dr Mark Jonathan Beech, Abdulla Khalfan Al Kaabi, HE Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Abdulla Ghanam bin Kadas Al Rumaithi, and Professor Peter Magee.

His Excellency Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism, HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director-General of the Department, visited the island of Marawah yesterday to see the latest developments on the excavation

They were accompanied by RIta Aoun-Abdo (Executive Director – Culture Sector, Department of Culture and Tourism) and Professor Peter Magee (Consultant to the Chairman, Department  of Culture and Tourism).

The group met the team of archaeologists working on the island which included Dr Mark Jonathan Beech (Head of Coastal Heritage and Palaeontology), Dr Richard Cuttler, Abdulla Khalfan Al Kaabi, Zahir Khan, Rabin Rai and Rashid Ali from the Department of Culture and Tourism, as well as Dr Olivier Brunet and John Martin.

Earlier this year, a team of archaeologists on the island announced important archaeological discoveries that provided important information about the nature of human societies in Abu Dhabi more than 7,000 years ago.

Commenting on the previous excavations and ongoing excavations on Marawah Island, HE Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “The archaeological discoveries on Marawah island are invaluable sources,  which enable us to research and discovery more deeply the history of Abu Dhabi and the region, and to understand the roots of our history and our heritage. We in the Culture and Tourism Department are committed to the conservation and preservation of these historical discoveries. We plan to undertake advanced research, documenting all these discoveries , in order to ensure the transmission of these historical treasures to future generations. Only through careful studies and diligent excavation of such archaeological sites can this be effectively carried out. ”


From left to right: HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Dr Mark Jonathan Beech, HE Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Rita Aoun-Abdo, Professor Peter Magee, Dr Richard Cuttler, Abdulla Khalfan Al Kaabi, Unknown, Dr Olivier Brunet and Abdulla Ghanam bin Kadas Al Rumaithi.

The visiting group inspect Room 5 of a new structure identified within the Late Stone Age settlement.


New excavation season on Marawah Island

From 2-26 October 2017 we will be renewing our archaeological excavations on Marawah Island. This will continue our investigations of the Late Stone Age settlement site known as MR11. The team includes: Dr Mark Jonathan Beech, Dr Olivier Brunet, Dr Richard Cuttler, Ahmed Abdalla Elhaj Elfaki, Abdulla Khalfan Al Kaabi,  John Martin, as well as Zahir Khan, Rashid Ali Mohammed Akrab , and Rabin Rai.

To see some of the results of our work visit:


Opening of Memories of a Journey Hajj Exhibition at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Today was the opening of the Memories of a Journey Hajj exhibition at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. I helped with two areas within the exhibition. Firstly, with the showcase featuring nine pieces of decorated plaster stucco from the Sir Bani Yas church, and secondly with the landscape pictures taken by the Emirati photographer, Mussallem Al Darei, who accompanied myself and colleagues on a simulation of the journey which Hajj pilgrims once took along the coast of Abu Dhabi to Saudi Arabia.

Please download the brochure from:

More information about the exhibition is available on thiswebsite:

The Memories of a Journey Hajj exhibition last from 20 September 2017 until 19 March 2018. Admission is Free.

Why is it Important to Study the Past?

Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism is pleased to invite you to attend a lecture entitled “Why is it Important to Study the Past?”

which will be delivered by: Dr Mark Jonathan Beech, Head of Coastal Heritage and Palaeontology, Historic Environment Department, Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.

Dr Beech will take the audience on a journey to Abu Dhabi 65 million years ago, to a time when dinosaurs were already extinct and when Al Ain and the UAE was under the sea. The story of how the landform of the UAE was created will be told. Geological deposits in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra region provide the best evidence in the Arabian Peninsula for life during the Late Miocene, between 6-8 million years ago. This was a time when the deserts of Arabia were green. Today we can find fossils from a wide range of animals and plants which once lived there. This large diversity of everything from shells to crocodiles, rodents, birds, monkeys, hippos, and elephants were supported by a river system that once flowed through what is now the UAE, and that has long since gone dry and disappeared. Early humans mobilized themselves during climatically optimal periods and were able to spread out of Africa and eventually around the globe. Some of the earliest evidence for human populations in Abu Dhabi will briefly be discussed to show how archaeologists are beginning to piece together the culture and society of our prehistoric ancestors. The results of recent archaeological excavations on Marawah Island will be discussed providing a unique insight into Abu Dhabi’s earliest known people.

Date: Wednesday 27 September 2017

Time : 10:00 – 11:30 am

Location: Al Ain Municipality Theatre, Al Ain

Simultaneous translation is available.

Attendance 15 minutes before is preferable.

For more information, please contact Mariam Al Dhaheri on 03 711 8302 or email: