Just co-authored a new article:
Kallweit, H. and M.J. Beech. 2020. Some remarks on the lithic assemblage from a coastal Ubaid-related settlement site on Delma Island, Abu Dhabi emirate, United Arab Emirates. Pages 121-135, in: K. Bretzke, R. Crassard and Y.H. Hilbert (eds), Stone Tools of Prehistoric Arabia – Papers from the Special Session of the Seminar for Arabian Studies held in July 2019 in Leiden. Supplement to the Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies Volume 50. Oxford: Archaeopress.
To order this publication from Archaeopress click here.
The Neolithic Ubaid-related settlement site on Dalma island was first discovered in 1992 by the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey (ADIAS). Ubaid pottery sherds, lithics, marine shells, and fish bones were observed on the ground surface within the walled compound of the former Women’s Association, as well as external to the compound within the traffic island located on its northern side. Excavations subsequently took place directed by ADIAS team members, Elizabeth Shepherd-Popescu and Katelin Flavin (1994–1995), and by Mark J. Beech and Joseph Elders (1998). Excavations were renewed by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) directed by Mark J. Beech (2014–2016). These excavations revealed that the settlement had up to 1.7 m of stratigraphic deposits below the modern-day ground surface. Traces of circular house structures were identified in the form of post-holes. Radiocarbon dating demonstrates that the site was occupied from the late sixth to the mid-fifth millennium BC. To date a total of more than 35,000 lithics have been retrieved from the site. During fieldwork carried out in 1998, Mark J. Beech and Jakub Czastka from the ADIAS team discovered that there was a raw flint source on the north-west coast of Delma Island. Unfortunately, this particular outcrop is no longer accessible due to subsequent construction activities, although some samples of the flint were collected from it. It is pale grey-brown to pale blue in colour with small sparkly inclusions and a thick bright white coloured cortex. Analysis of the lithic assemblage from the excavations suggests that the vast majority of final tools and even the management of rejects and production waste are believed to be of local origin. Only an extremely small number of imported final products were noted. The assemblage is marked by a low variety of tool types, with an emphasis on attrition tools in the form of wedges. Drills and perforating tools are common but less frequent. There was a limited quantity of arrowheads and large projectile points.
Keywords: lithics, flint source, Ubaid, settlement, Abu Dhabi.
The Hudayriyat Heritage Trail opened to the public on the 10th November 2020.
The Hudayriyat Heritage Trail has been established to protect the important archaeological remains discovered on the island.
The shell middens provide direct evidence of the activities of pearl fishermen who previously lived there.
The remains of dugongs and sharks demonstrate the importance of marine resources for the community living on Hudayriyat.
An archaeological experience with a twist, the Hudayriyat Heritage Trail is a winding stretch of beautiful pathways and raised tidal boardwalks. It offers visitors the chance to stroll down a timeline of local history and learn all about the curious and intriguing facts of the recent and distant past. The trail includes a range of contemporary sculptures, alongside viewing platforms overlooking the Arabian Gulf.
New paper published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology:
Yeomans, L. and M.J. Beech. 2020. An aid to the identification of fish bones from southeast Arabia: The influence of reference collections on taxonomic diversity. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.2920
The Supporting Information can be downloaded here. This includes 60 higher resolution versions of the illustrations of fish bones featured in the paper, as well as lists providing details of the size of the reference fish and the location of the reference specimen, a summary of published data of teleost fish bones from archaeological sites in SE Arabia, as well as a list of resources useful for identifying fish bones from south-east Arabia.
Identification, Ichthyofauna, southeast Arabia, Osteology, Taxonomic diversity, Reference collections
Identification of fish bones from archaeological sites in southeast Arabia is challenging because of high taxonomic diversity, comparatively few reference collections with a wide range of species, as well as access to these resources. This paper provides illustrations of bones from many common taxonomic groups of fish from the southeast Arabia including several species of fish identified in very few assemblages, probably because of the lack of comparative reference material. This is a guide to aid other analysts in the identification process. We also consider the effect of reference collection size on the taxonomic diversity of analysed fish bone assemblages and conclude that research would benefit by the publication of further identification guides. Ideally these should include differences between closely related species, as this has a significant impact on the taxonomic diversity of archaeo‐ichthyological assemblages. Whilst many papers are devoted to the influence of sample size, recovery method or recording protocols on the taxonomic diversity of faunal assemblages, a similar discussion on the effect of the reference collection used is often overlooked.
This paper has just been published:
Lidour, K. and M.J. Beech. 2020. The diet of osprey Pandion haliaetus on Marawah Island (Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates) and its implications for the study of archaeological assemblages. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports Volume 33, October 2020, 102532. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102532
- Ospreys are reported to build nests and to perch on archaeological sites.
- The impact of ospreys on archaeological fish bone assemblages is assessed.
- Almost 2000 modern prey remains have been collected close to osprey’s perches.
- The taphonomic signature of the osprey has been described.
- Ospreys are not accumulation agents at archaeological sites on Marawah Island.
The Osprey Pandion haliaetus is one of the most widely distributed raptor species in the world, present on all continents except Antarctica. Since its diet is mainly based on fish, this raptor is typically encountered close both to marine and fresh waters. Ospreys are well represented in the Arabian Peninsula where remote islands are the location for some of their key breeding sites. On Marawah Island (Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), ospreys have been reported to build nests on top of abandoned man-made structures, including archaeological sites. The discovery of fish remains associated with numerous bird bones and eggshell fragments in archaeological deposits raises the question of the potential contamination of ancient faunal accumulations by birds of prey. To date, the possible impact of ospreys on zooarchaeological assemblages has been little considered and the taphonomic signature of this fish-eating raptor has never been described. However, ospreys are effective competitors to traditional and small-scale fisheries and should be considered as potential accumulators of fish remains on archaeological sites located close to water bodies. Indeed, zooarchaeological analyses demonstrate that fish had always played a major role in the daily subsistence of the ancient inhabitants of Marawah Island since the first traces of occupation dating back some 8000 years. The present study will enable researchers working in the region as well as in other geographical area to determine if ospreys are accumulation agents for fish remains on archaeological sites.
The present diet assessment of ospreys allows us to specify the taphonomic signature of this raptor: targeted species are mainly medium to large-sized fish swimming just beneath the surface (e.g. needlefish and queenfish) and slow benthic fish occurring in shallow waters such as tripodfish, emperors, and groupers. Bone accumulations are almost entirely composed of skull elements, indicating specific discarding behaviours. Certain traces left on jaw bones, in particular maxillae, can also help to differentiate osprey accumulations from archaeological ones.
A new article has just been published by the Society for Ethnozootechnics about our work on the Baynunah camel site.
This was a paper presented at a conference organised by the Society of Ethnozootechnie, held at the Institut du Monde Arabe, in Paris, on the 6th June 2019, organised by Bernard Denis and Jean-Pierre Digard.
The paper has now been published in Volume 106 of their journal, Ethnozootechnie. Here are the details:
Beech, M.J., M. Mashkour and T. O’Connor. 2019. Chasse néolithique de dromadaires dans la péninsule Arabique. Nouvelles recherches archéologiques aux Émirats Arabes Unis sur le “Baynunah camel site”. Ethnozootechnie 106: 13-19.
To download this article please click here click here ==>
For details of the other papers in the same volume click here ==>
The History of Emirates TV programme (International version) is now available by live streaming. Narrated by Jeremy Irons, the fascinating 3-part series reveals how new archaeological discoveries are only now revealing the true extent of this land’s ancient wonders and its 125,000-year heritage from the earliest human presence in the region to the national union in 1971. Utilizing the latest cutting-edge technology — from CGI to LiDar scanning and 360 degree camera work — interwoven with never-before-seen archival footage, it is a ground-breaking series that profiles the very foundations of the country’s civilizations. You can watch this via: https://historyoftheemirates.com/en/the-series-2?fbclid=IwAR3M7RbY0lsQs1KsDc_LOhFMLhKDs3bJy20vJuUDN5lp0DjgwhWnwz3cO9Q
The History of the Emirates TV programme (UAE version) is now available by live streaming. This fascinating 5-part series reveals how new archaeological discoveries are only now revealing the true extent of this land’s ancient wonders and its 125,000-year heritage from the earliest human presence in the region to the national union in 1971. Utilizing the latest cutting-edge technology — from CGI to LiDar scanning and 360 degree camera work — interwoven with never-before-seen archival footage, it is a ground-breaking series that profiles the very foundations of the country’s civilizations. The Five episodes are entitled: History of the Emirates: Society, Innovation, Trade, Belief and Unity. You can watch this via: https://www.awaan.ae/show/212123/History-of-the-Emirates?fbclid=IwAR12Osvh2z2CXvcGeQXxsBCuVsRq4toGyxu68dTt5_VMV4fZERX_-V7IGwQ
Image Nation Abu Dhabi are pleased to announce that the landmark documentary series History of the Emirates will be airing on all National Broadcasters in the United Arab Emirates from November 24th – 28th every evening from 9pm.
Please find below details of the series – including broadcasters and episode synopsis.
A new article has just been published providing an update on our archaeological excavations at the MR11 site on Marawah Island:
Beech, M.J., R.T.H. Cuttler, A.K. Al Kaabi, A.A. El Faki, J. Martin, N. H. Al Hameli, H.M. Roberts, P. Spencer, D. Tomasi, O. Brunet and R. Crassard. 2019. Excavations at MR11 on Marawah Island (Abu Dhabi, UAE): new insight into the architecture and planning of Arabian Neolithic settlements and early evidence for pearling. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 2019. Article doi.org/10.1111/aae.12148
In 1992, an archaeological survey of Marawah Island conducted by the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey identified two significant Neolithic settlements known as MR1 and MR11. Both sites are constructed on prominent rocky platforms located towards the western end of the island. In 2000 and 2003, small‐scale excavations took place at MR11, with the first full excavation taking place in 2004. Excavations continued at MR11 between 2014 up to 2019. Radiocarbon dating demonstrates that the site was occupied between the earliest part of the sixth millennium to the mid‐fifth millennium BC. Three areas have been so far examined. Area A—a tripartite house (2004 and 2014–2017 excavation seasons); Area B—a partial structure (in 2003 and 2017–2018); and Area C—a series of at least five rooms (in 2017–2019). The results provide a valuable new insight into the architecture and planning of Arabian Neolithic settlements in the region, as well as the earliest known evidence for pearling.
Neolithic settlement, paved hall, pearls, sixth–fifth millennium BC, stone architecture, tripartite house
The ‘Abu Dhabi Pearl’ was discovered in Room 5 of Area C at the MR11 site on Marawah island.
The Abu Dhabi Pearl: Explore an almost 8,000-year-old treasure, with a Talk, Film and VR Experience
With Dr Mark Jonathan Beech, Head of Archaeology – Al Dhafra and Abu Dhabi
Tuesday 26 November 2019 – 6pm – Free admission
While excavating a stone-age village on the island of Marawah in the Western Region of the UAE, archaeologists discovered a nearly 8,000-year-old pearl, believed to be the earliest known evidence for pearling ever discovered.
Dr Mark Beech, Head of Archaeology for Al Dhafra & Abu Dhabi, Department of Culture and Tourism, will discuss the discovery of the pearl and the important history of pearling in the UAE.
To register for the talk please click here
About Dr Mark Jonathan Beech BSc. (Hons), M.A., PhD.
Dr Mark Jonathan Beech has a Bachelor of Sciences honours degree in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (1982-1985), a Master’s degree in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield (1986-1987), and a Phd in Archaeology from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York (1998-2001). Dr Beech has been involved in archaeological research in the UAE for the past 25 years, being Senior Resident Archaeologist for the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey from 1994-2006, then Cultural Landscapes Manager at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage from 2006-2012 and then Head of Coastal Heritage and Palaeontology at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority from 2012-2017. Since 2018 he is Head of Archaeology for the Al Dhafra and Abu Dhabi Capital Area regions in the Historic Environment Department at the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi).