14th International Council for Archaeozoology 7-12 August 2023, Cairns, Australia

The 14th International Council for Archaeozoology is being held from 7-12 August 2023 at the Cairns Convention Centre, Sheridan Street & Wharf Street, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia.

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For details of the programme:

I will be presenting the following paper on Friday 11th August 2023, co-authored with Kevin Lidour, in the session, The Forefront of Zooarchaeology in Asian Coasts and Islands (Meeting Room M10):

The Fertile Coast: A New Insight into Maritime Adaptations During the Neolithic of South-East Arabia


This paper discusses the latest research on the “Fertile Coast” of South-East Arabia during the Neolithic period. Archaeological evidence indicates a cohesive culture within the coastal areas of the lower Arabian Gulf during the 7th to 4th millennium BCE. Despite the lack of regional development of agriculture and pottery manufacture, as in the Levant and Mesopotamia, the past human groups living in Arabian Peninsula have created their own pathways in the Neolithization process. They built well-structured architecture, produced plaster vessels, and maintained some domestic animals. At the same time, they relied primarily on maritime resources such as marine molluscs, crustaceans, fish, sea turtles, and marine mammals (including dolphins and dugongs) provided by coastal ecosystems showing high biodiversity and biomass (mangroves, seagrass, and coral reefs). Marine fauna not only consist of a staple food for daily subsistence, but also of an abundant source of raw materials (e.g., seashells, shark teeth, etc.) for technological and symbolic productions – respectively in the form of tools and personal adornments. An original case study of maritime adaptation of past human groups within the Saharo-Arabian arid belt is presented which can be also highlighted by advanced seafaring, the colonisation of offshore islands, and distant trade across the Arabian Gulf. The scope of the present paper is to discuss the different aspects of a Neolithic coastal lifestyle and the importance of the marine resources in the subsistence and the cultural development of past human cultures in South-East Arabia.


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. ArchaeoPress, Oxford.

Beech, M. J., N.H. Al Hameli, R.T. Cuttler, K. Lidour, H. Roberts, R. Crassard, N. Yalman, & T. Davies. 2022. Neolithic settlement patterns and subsistence strategies on Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates. Proc. of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 51: 7–24.

Lidour, K., P. Béarez, M. Beech, V. Charpentier & S. Méry. 2021. Intensive exploitation of marine crabs and sea urchins during the middle holocene in the eastern Arabian Peninsula offers new perspectives on ancient maritime adaptations, The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2021.1962437

Lidour, K. and M.J. Beech. 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. & M.J. Beech. 2019b. ‘The numerous islands of the Ichthyophagi’: Neolithic fisheries of Delma Island, Abu Dhabi Emirate (UAE). Proc. of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 49: 207-222.

Session Theme Details:

The Forefront of Zooarchaeology in Asian Coasts and Islands (Meeting Room M10):
Friday 11 August 2023 – 10:30am – 5 pm

Modern humans (Homo sapiens) began active utilization of maritime and coastal resources exploitation from the late Pleistocene. Currently, the number of zooarchaeological studies in the coastal and islands regions in Asia is dramatically increasing. These studies cover topics ranging from Pleistocene terrestrial and maritime resource exploitation, the variety of animal uses including domestications, hunting, and fishing after the Neolithic ages, as well as pre-modern or modern animal use as the main focus of ethno-archaeological studies.
This session provides the forum within which to to integrate these zooarchaeological studies as our current research forefront, to place together information from different coastal and island regions of Asia, and to discuss innovative methods to develop the variety of issues presented. This session will enable an exchange of ideas to increase understanding of Pleistocene and Holocene human activities related to both terrestrial and marine animal use. We also welcome any related papers concerned with new findings and zooarchaeological methodologies to investigate coastal/terrestrial and marine resources use and aquatic culture by Homo sapiens in Asian coastal and island regions.

Session Organisers:

Rintaro Ono, National Museum of Ethnology, Japan
Takao Sato, Keio University, Japan