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.

For more details visit:

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

Paper to be presented at the Seminar for Arabian Studies 2023

From 4 – 6 August 2023, the 56th Seminar for Arabian Studies will take place at Moesgaard Museum and Aarhus University, Denmark. This year we celebrate the 70th jubilee of the pioneering Arabian Gulf expeditions (est. 1953-). The seminar has been jointly organised by the department of Archaeology at Aarhus University and the Orient Department at Moesgaard Museum and is under the patronage of the International Association for the Study of Arabia.

This year’s Seminar is generously supported by the C. L. David Foundation, the Carlsberg Foundation, the Frimodt-Heineke Foundation, the Dr M. C. Holsts Foundation, and the Beatrice de Cardi Fund of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

For more details visit:  https://iasarabia.org/the-seminar/

Seminar for Arabian Studies 2003
Special Session – Bronze Age Arabia – 70 Years On

The following paper will be presented by our archaeology team:

Functional, Ceremonial or Domestic? Neolithic Stone-Lined Structures on Ghagha Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Richard Thorburn Cuttler, DCT Abu Dhabi, UAE
Noura Hamad Al Hameli, DCT Abu Dhabi, UAE
Rémy Crassard, CNRS, Archéorient Laboratory, Lyon, France
Ahmed Abdalla El Faki, DCT Abu Dhabi, UAE
Peter Gerard Magee, DCT Abu Dhabi, UAE
Mark Jonathan Beech, DCT Abu Dhabi, UAE

Keywords: Neolithic, Settlement, Subsistence, Arabian Gulf

Survey at the northern extent of the island of Ghagha in November 2019 by the Department of Culture and Tourism: Abu Dhabi, identified several low mounds associated with extensive burning. Excavation work revealed multiple stone lined pits and smaller hearths within a large mound of ash and charcoal. This ash appears to have been emptied or cleaned out of the structures and dumped on an adjacent area. Finds include barbed and tanged arrowheads, beads and tile knives. However, faunal or human remains that might normally indicate a domestic or mortuary assemblage are almost entirely absent, and the structures on this site contrast sharply with the stone architecture seen at GHG0014, Marawah and elsewhere. Radiocarbon dates place the activities associated with these stone-lined pits within the latter half of the 7th millennium BCE. This is one or two hundred years later than the earliest settlement on Ghagha (GHG0014), but immediately predates an event (8.2kya) that locally saw a dramatic change from increased precipitation to a hyperarid climate. This paper will explore the implications of the lithic and environmental assemblage, while considering what the original site functionality might have been.

“Picturing the Cosmos” Exhibition has first NHMAD loans

Visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s “Picturing the Cosmos” exhibition which is held at the in-house Children’s Museum. Running for two years until June 2025, it was created in collaboration with the UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. The exhibition features the first ever two loans from the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi (NHMAD). These are a lunar meteorite found in north-west Africa and the 7 billion year old Murchison meteorite discovered in 1969 near the Australian town of Murchison.

Louvre Abu Dhabi – Picturing the Cosmos
book tickets on the official website
– Join the ultimate space adventure!
Exhibition opens 20.07.2023 until June 2025
Kids go free
Ages 4+

The National – 19 July 2023Louvre Abu Dhabi Children’s Museum shoots for the stars with space exhibition

To find out more about the Murchison meteorite visit these links:

Smithsonian Magazine – 13 January 2020 – Meteorite Grains Are the Oldest Known Solid Material on Earth –  by Jay Bennett
The oldest dust sample, perhaps 7 billion years old, predates the formation of our planet and the sun.


RIP Peter Hellyer (9 November 1947 – 2 July 2023)

Peter Hellyer, my former boss and long time friend in the UAE passed away on 2 July 2023. My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends. He made an immense contribution to the UAE, a country he loved so much. I learnt a lot from him during the time we worked together for the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey (ADIAS) from 1994 up until 2006. Peter you will be missed but not forgotten. Your legacy remains in the numerous publications and the fact that many of the well known archaeological sites discovered in Abu Dhabi were first brought to light by the work carried out by the ADIAS team are now preserved today as internationally important heritage sites.You can read some of the obituaries written about him on the following links:

The National – 2 July 2023
Peter Hellyer: Sheikh Mohamed leads tributes after chronicler of UAE’s past dies aged 75

WAM – Emirates News Agency – 3 July 2023
WAM mourns death of Emirati media veteran Peter Hellyer

وكالة أنباء الإمارات تعزي بوفاة الإعلامي الإماراتي بيتر هيلير

The National – 3 July 2023
Peter Hellyer  – Author, columnist and historian who helped to tell the UAE’s story 

Gulf News – 3 July 2023
UAE President mourns death of historian and author Peter Hellyer

Gulf News – 3 July 2023
Cultural, media community in UAE mourns death of noted historian Peter Hellyer

Khaleej Times – 3 July 2023
UAE historian Peter Hellyer passes away: From 1975 to 2023, how he played integral role in nation’s development

Khaleej Times – 3 July 2023
‘Model of dedication’: UAE President condoles death of historian Peter Hellyer

Khaleej Times – 3 July 2023
UAE: Legendary historian Peter Hellyer passes away; tributes pour in

Associated Press – 3 July 2023
Peter Hellyer, prolific writer who chronicled the UAE’s rise over nearly five decades, dies at 75

Al Ittihad – 3 July 2023
رئيس الدولة: بيتر هيلير خدم الإمارات بتفان وإخلاص على مدى عقود

وفاة الإعلامي الإماراتي بيتر هيلير

The National – 4 July 2023
With Peter Hellyer’s passing, we have lost a pillar of strength

The National – 4 July 2023
Peter Hellyer: The man I knew was dedicated to his craft and country

Khaleej Times – 4 July 2023
Peter Hellyer: Colleague, friend, family

Khaleej Times – 4 July 2023
Peter Hellyer: Memories of my mentor

Khaleej Times – 4 July 2023
Remembering Peter Hellyer, a mentor and colleague

Khaleej Times – 4 July 2023
UAE: Emirati historian Peter Hellyer buried in Abu Dhabi; hundreds including top ministers attend funeral

The National – 5 July 2023
Activist, historian and archaeologist of the West and Arab world: my father, Peter Hellyer

Gulf News – 6 July 2023
Peter Hellyer: A man who proved that East and West could meet


Peter Hellyer – Publications:

Here is a selection of just some of the publications he authored:

Peter Hellyer. 1992. Fujairah: An Arabian Jewel. Motivate Publishing, Dubai. ISBN 978 1 86063 139 9.

Peter Hellyer and Rosalind Buckton. 1998. Al Ain: Garden City of the Gulf. Motivate Publishing, Dubai. ISBN 978 1 86063 192 4.

Peter Hellyer. 1998. Filling in the Blanks: Recent Archaeological Discoveries in Abu Dhabi (Editorial Consultant: Dr. G.R.D. King).
Motivate Publishing , Dubai, UAE. for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). ISBN 1-8606-3-024-3.

Peter Hellyer. 1998. Waves of Time: The Maritime History of the United Arab Emirates. Trident Press, London.

Peter Hellyer.1999. Hidden Riches – An Archaeological Introduction to the United Arab Emirates. Union National Bank, Abu Dhabi.

Ibrahim Al-Abed and Peter Hellyer (eds.). 2001. The United Arab Emirates: A new perspective. Trident Press, UK.

Daniel T. Potts, Hassan Naboodah and Peter Hellyer (eds.). 2003. Archaeology of the United Arab Emirates: Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Archaeology of the UAE. Trident Press Ltd., London. ISBN 1900724-88-X – Hardback.

Simon Aspinall and Peter Hellyer (eds). 2004. Jebel Hafit: A Natural History. Emirates Natural History Group (ENHG). Sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO). ISBN 9948-03-143-1. 221 pages.

Mark Beech and Peter Hellyer (eds.). 2005. Abu Dhabi 8 Million Years Ago – Late Miocene Fossils from the Western Region. Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey (ADIAS): Dar Al Fajr Printing Press, Abu Dhabi, UAE. 68 pages; 73 figures, maps, plans, drawings, photographs. ISBN 9948-03-188-1.

Peter Hellyer and Simon Aspinall (eds.). 2005. The Emirates – A Natural History. ISBN 1-905486-02-2 – Hardback.

Peter Hellyer and Michele Ziolkowski (eds). 2005. Emirates Heritage Vol. 1 – Proceedings of the 1st Annual Symposium on Recent Palaeontological and Archaeological Discoveries in the Emirates, Al Ain. Zayed Centre for Heritage and History, Al Ain. ISBN 9948-06-130-6. 139 pages.

Mark Beech, Peter Hellyer, Andrew Gardner, Brien Holmes and Walid Yasin Al-Tikriti. 2007. Palaeontological and Archaeological Resources in Abu Dhabi Emirate. Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) & Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD). 57 pages.

Daniel Potts and Peter Hellyer (eds.). 2012. Fifty years of Emirates Archaeology. Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development. Motivate Publishing, London.

Peter Magee, Peter Hellyer and Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak. 2019. The Emirates: Our History. Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi.