All posts by beech

Head of Archaeology: Al Dhafra & Abu Dhabi, Historic Environment Department, Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi)

Paper to be presented at 54th Seminar for Arabian Studies 2021

The 54th Seminar for Arabian Studies organized by the International Association for the Study of Arabia (IASA), will take place online over the weekends of 2nd – 4th and 9th – 11th July 2021 in collaboration with and supported by Casa Árabe, Cordoba. To attend the 54th Seminar for Arabian Studies and for more information please click here.

The following paper is to be presented by our Marawah excavation team at the 54th Seminar for Arabian Studies 2021 on Friday 2 July 2021 from 13:40-14:05 pm (GMT).

Neolithic settlement patterns and subsistence strategies on Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi emirate, United Arab Emirates

by: Mark Jonathan Beech, Noura Hamad Al Hameli, Richard Cuttler, Kevin Lidour, Howell Roberts, Remy Crassard, Nurcan Yalman, and Talfan Davies.

Keywords:

Neolithic, Settlement, Architecture, Subsistence, Arabian Gulf

Abstract:

Recent work has revealed that there are three major Neolithic settlements present on Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi, known as MR1, MR2.5 and MR11. Excavations at the settlement of MR11 are radically changing our ideas of Neolithic architecture, in particular the spatial organisation of settlements. MR11 comprises a group of 7 mounds (Areas A to G), the first of which (Area A) was subject to excavation in 2003 and 2004 (Beech et al 2005). Work has continued every year since 2014 on Areas A, B, C and F. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal fragments have demonstrated that this settlement was occupied from about 8,000-years-ago to 6,500-years-ago (Beech et al 2019). The excavation of each of these areas revealed different forms of architecture. It is now clear that a part of the tripartite house in Area A post-dates an earlier building. Areas B and C comprise a series of different shaped rooms and paved areas with multiple entrances. Preliminary excavations on Area F indicate the presence of a multi-celled structure that is very different in character to the other areas.

References:

Beech M., R. Cuttler, D. Moscrop, H. Kallweit & J. Martin. 2005. New evidence for the Neolithic settlement of Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies  35: 37-56.

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

New paper published – More on the identification of fish bones from southeast Arabia


A new paper has just been published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology:

Yeomans, L. and Beech, M.J. 2021. More on the identification of fish bones from southeast Arabia. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 2021: 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.2971

Abstract:
Identification of fish bones from archeological sites in southeast Arabia requires access to an extensive reference collection. This is often not possible, and repeated use of these resources when they are available ultimately damages bones. This paper provides a platform from which high‐resolution images of 60 species of marine fishes from southeast Arabia can be downloaded, aiding identification and providing illustrations that other researchers can modify to produce graphics to highlight taphonomic modification to bones or illustrate measurements taken.

Note:
This is a follow up article to the previously published paper:

Yeomans, L., and Beech, M. J. 2020. An aid to the identification of fish bones from southeast Arabia: The influence of reference collections on taxonomic diversity. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 2020

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 31(1): 3-17. 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.]

New publication about lithics from Delma Island

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.

Abstract:

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.

 

Hudayriyat Heritage Trail opens to the public

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.

The trail combines historical artworks such as oysters, pearls, and pottery, burnt shark and dugong bones, along with historical fishing nets. Along the route are a number of educational nodes where families can learn about how the local Bedouins lived and adapted to the environment many years before modern technology.

Download the Hudayriyat Heritage Trail Official Brochure by clicking here.

Download the Map of the Hudayriyat Heritage Trail by clicking here.

Visit the Hudayriyat Heritage Trail Instagram page.

Visit the Hudayriyat Heritage Trail Facebook page.

See VisitAbuDhabi’s video about Hudayriyat Island.
See a video on YouTube about Hudayriyat Island.

New paper published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology

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.

Keywords:

Identification, Ichthyofauna, southeast Arabia, Osteology, Taxonomic diversity, Reference collections

Abstract:

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.

 

New paper published in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports

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

Highlights:

  • 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.

Abstract:

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.

 

New article published in Ethnozootechnie

Ethnozootechnie no.106 2019

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) – now online

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) – now online

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

History of the Emirates Series Broadcasting Nov 24-28 2019

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. 

Social Handles:

https://www.facebook.com/Historyofemirates

https://www.instagram.com/historyofemirates/

https://twitter.com/HOTEseries

Official Hashtags:

تاريخ_الإمارات#

#HistoryoftheEmirates

#HOTE