All posts by beech

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

Launch of new Sir Bani Yas Island Visitor Centre (10 November 2023)

The new Sir Bani Yas Island Visitor Centre opens to the public on Friday 10 November 2023. A new exhibition provides a valuable insight into the geology, archaeology and history of Sir Bani Yas Island, highlighting the important contribution made by the late UAE President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The new Visitor Centre is located next to the 7th-8th century CE Church and Monastery discovered on the island in 1992.

The inauguration of the new Sir Bani Yas Visitor Centre was led by His Excellency Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak (Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism), His Excellency Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani (Undersecretary, Department of Culture and Tourism), and Rita Aoun-Abdo (Executive Director, Culture Sector, Department of Culture and Tourism), with other VIP dignitaries and guests from Sir Bani Yas Island.

Abu Dhabi Media Office, 14 November 2023
دائرة الثقافة والسياحة – أبوظبي تفتتح مركزاً للزوار في جزيرة صير بني ياس

Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi inaugurates Sir Bani Yas Island visitor centre

Sir Bani Yas Island (DCT website)

Sir Bani Yas Island (Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey website)

Sir Bani Yas Island: Explore UAE’s largest natural island (Khaleej Times)

Reopening of Delma Museum (10 November 2023)

The Delma Museum reopened to the public on Friday 10 November 2023. A new exhibition provides a valuable insight into life on Delma Island. The Museum is located within the former pearl merchant’s residence, the Mohammed bin Jasim Al Muraykhi house. This is situated in the historic core of Delma town adjacent to the Al Muraykhi Mosque, Al Dawsari Mosque and Al Muhannadi Mosque.

The reopening of Delma Museum was conducted by our Chairman, H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Undersecretary H.E. Saoud Abdulaziz Al Hosani and Executive Director of the Culture Sector, Rita Aoun-Abdo, alongside H.E. Nasser Mohammed Al Mansouri, Undersecretary of the Ruler’s Representative Court in Al Dhafra Region, H.E. Mohammed Ali Al Mansouri, Director General of Al Dhafra Region Municipality, and H.E. Brigadier Hamdan Saif Al Mansouri, Director of the Al Dhafra Region Police Directorate. They all attended the reopening of the Delma Museum following the completion of this major restoration initiative, plus installation of the new exhibition within the Delma Museum.

Abu Dhabi Media Office, 11 November 2023
دائرة الثقافة والسياحة – أبوظبي تُعيد افتتاح متحف دلما بعد ترميمه

Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi reopens Delma Museum following restoration

Delma Island (DCT website)

Timeframe: The untold stories of Abu Dhabi’s Delma Island (7 April 2023, The National)

Dalma Island (website)

New paper published on UAE dolphin stomach contents

A new paper has just been published in the journal Marine Mammal Science which I co-authored on the stomach contents of UAE dolphins:

Alkhamis, R., Smale, M. J., Beech, M. J., Brownell, R. L. Jr., Stahi, H., & Natoli, A. (2023). Stomach contents analysis of Tursiops aduncus and Sousa plumbea stranded along the United Arab Emirates coastline. Marine Mammal Science, 1–12.

I analysed and identified the fish sagittal otoliths that were present in the stomach contents of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) and Indian Ocean humpback dolphins (Sousa plumbea). This revealed that fish which were consumed included Carangidae: Carangoides bajad, and Gerreidae: Gerres longirostris, as well as a number of other species.

ZNM Archaeology Conference 2023

An Archaeology conference was organised by the Zayed National Museum which was held on Monday 6th November 2023 at the Abrahamic Family House on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Dr. Peter Magee, the Director of Zayed National Museum, welcomed a renowned board of researchers, experts, dignitaries, and guests from across the globe, attending the Archaeology Conference 2023 under the theme “2,500 years of Prosperity, Exchange and Openness.” Dr Magee emphasises on the significance of the topics and findings presented this year towards defining our collective role in the exploration, preservation, and exhibition of the heritage of the United Arab Emirates. Decades worth of research, theories, knowledge and perspectives will be presented and showcased throughout the day by esteemed experts in the field, allowing attendees to be a part of the collaborative efforts to preserve and share our history.

About the Conference

The Archaeology Conference is an annual forum hosted by Zayed National Museum as one of the definitive platforms for research, discussion and recognition of achievements in the field of archaeology within the United Arab Emirates. The 2023 edition of the conference will focus on ‘2,500 years of Prosperity, Exchange and Openness’, with a vision to share key findings from recent excavations and disseminate knowledge about ongoing explorations. During this one-day conference, a board of distinguished international experts will congregate to exhibit the UAE’s rich history and national heritage sites to a global audience – featuring engaging presentations that reveal new insights into historical site archives, early-urbanised Islamic settlements and burial customs, traditional Arabian architecture as well as unveiling maritime discoveries and the most recent archaeological exploration and preservation projects in the region. The Archaeology Conference 2023 presents a unique opportunity for professionals and experts in the scientific field to share their research and findings – and ultimately establish influential relationships that will strengthen global ties and collaborations in the field of archaeology.

Speakers at the conference included: H.E. Saood Al Hosani, Abdulla Al Shehhi, Bruno Overlaet, Peter Sheehan, Dr Timothy Power, Dr Derek Kennet, Dr Seth Priestman, Dr Karol Juchniewicz, Dr Agnieszka Lic, Dr Richard Thorburn Howard Cuttler, Dr. Alexandre Monterio, Ammar Albanna, Annissa Gultom, Mariam Al Shehhi, Aaesha Al Dhahoori, Nagmeldeen Morshed Hamza, Dr Peter Magee and Alison Kelly.

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi (3-5 March 2024)


Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, the 2024 edition of the Culture Summit will bring cultural leaders, artists and performers to Abu Dhabi for an extraordinary forum of knowledge exchange, debate and policy development. It will take place from 3-5 March 2024 in Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Culture Summit convenes leaders from the field of arts, heritage, media, museums, public policy and technology, to identify ways in which culture can transform societies and communities worldwide.

More details available at:

In the 2024 edition, Culture Summit will explore our changing relation to time, how this change is impacting the way culture is produced, received and consumed but also the role culture – which so often holds together past, present, future – could play to help us navigate this moment of inflection in the way we relate to the notion of time, moving from a ‘mechanical time’ characteristic of our contemporary era to a ‘new cultural time’ realigned with the rhythm of human awareness and nature. In the 2024 edition, Culture Summit will explore our changing relation to time, how this change is impacting the way culture is produced, received and consumed but also the role culture – which so often holds together past, present, future – could play to help us navigate this moment of inflection in the way we relate to the notion of time, moving from a ‘mechanical time’ characteristic of our contemporary era to a ‘new cultural time’ realigned with the rhythm of human awareness and nature.

Each day, the summit programme will follow a specific sub-theme to examine how people’s relation to time has evolved, highlighting the challenges this evolution represents for the culture and creative sectors, and provide focused, functional solutions.

Day one – Time to Remember (The passage of time): The sessions during the first day examinehow people make sense of the course of time and the role of culture in creating collective memories, as well as ways to reconcile the past, present and future to develop new productive common grounds.

Day two – Time to Act (Seizing the moment): The second day will shed light on the spread of fast culture and the capacity to deal with complexity, creating significant disruptions to how culture is produced, received and consumed.

Day three – Time to Share (A never-ending time): The third day will explore solutions to bring people together and reconciling humans and nature through the space of time. The sessions will focus on highlighting what culture can offer in the wake of new long-time horizons by introducing the notion of deep time. The sessions will also discuss the global challenge of climate change and the need to bridge the gap between generations.

World Archaeology Summit – Al Ula, Saudi Arabia – 13-15 September 2023

I have been invited to participate in the World Archaeology Summit due to be held at Maraya, Ashar Valley, Al Ula, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 13-15 September 2023.

For more information about the World Archaeology Summit, visit

The Summit

The World Archaeology Summit will be a platform for advancing the field of archaeology, cultural heritage management and other disciplines. This new gathering of leaders from academia, government, non-government organizations, industry, and young people representing the next generation of archaeologists will not only enrich the archaeological community and help protect our shared history but also open up to a larger reflection of what and how archaeology, and more broadly cultural heritage, can contribute to transformational changes in society. Together, we will explore the value of understanding the past, of using that knowledge to inform the present, as we build a resilient future.

It is a global platform promoting archaeology and cultural heritage to wider audiences, and thereby broadening the impact of archaeology and archaeological discoveries on global relationships and society. As such, the Summit will inspire people to co-create visionary, heritage-based solutions to contemporary problems across sectors.

The international and national guests from different backgrounds will include leading practitioners and innovators in the field of archaeology, and the industries that could engage in its potential step change.

The World Archaeology Summit is a recurring event, with year-round engagement and a focus on partnerships, outcomes, and initiatives. It goes beyond traditional intellectual pursuits, focusing on innovative solutions that will have a long-lasting impact on the world.

The Setting

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is home to a rich cultural heritage, with a legacy created by various peoples that thrived within its diverse and dramatic landscapes.

Located in northwest Arabia, the region of AlUla has been a natural crossroads for millennia, attracting people due to its plentiful water resources, making it a precious palimpsest, home to a wealth of material culture, from lower Palaeolithic artefact scatters to late prehistoric stone structures to oasis cities such as Dadan, Hegra, Qurh, and Old Town.

Nabataean Hegra, a sister city of Petra and Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, may be AlUla’s most well-known place, but life in the valley flourished long before and after the height of the Nabataean Kingdom.

Dadan, located on the ancient Incense Route, which extended from Southern Arabia to Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia and beyond, became a hub of commercial and cultural exchange while ruled by the kings of Dadan and Lihyan in the 1st millennium BCE; Qurh became Arabia’s second largest city after Mecca, rising to prominence as a primary stop for pilgrims on the Hajj after Islam’s rapid expansion in the 7th and 8th centuries CE; later ‘Old Town’ emerged as a significant centre in the 12th century, acting as AlUla’s main hub and sustaining life in the region for centuries thereafter.

Join Us to Explore

How archaeology can be a vector for solving the challenges of communities across the world and affect transformational changes

A broad conversation and an open dialogue across disciplines
The impact of archaeology on humans and society
The cross-fertilization value for archaeology of insights from other disciplines

Focusing on not just what is practiced, but what can happen next – exploring new frontiers, and setting the frame for future changes in the sector – the Summit is curated to engage attendees in the inspiring surroundings of AlUla with excursions to archaeological sites in addition to the dialogues inside Maraya, one of the most stunning venues in the world.

The programme for the Summit is co-crafted by a diverse Advisory Board of authoritative voices that combines know-how from different sectors, fields of expertise, and cultures, making the Summit a truly global amalgam of knowledge.

Finally, the Summit will provide a platform for young people to engage in meaningful dialogue and debate about the future of archaeology. It will offer a space for them to develop their own perspectives and ideas and contribute to the conversation in fundamental ways.

Join us along with the many attendees from different sectors and geographic backgrounds all coming together to contribute meaningful interdisciplinary dialogue at the first World Archaeology Summit this September, 2023.

4 Key Themes, 60+ Speakers & Panelists – Parallel Youth Forum – Panels, Keynotes, Informal Dialogues and Excursions




Exploring the intricate relationship we have with our heritage and connection to the past, and how archaeology shapes our personal and shared identities in an increasingly globalized world.


Exploring archaeological paradoxes, practices, and dilemmas.


Exploring wisdom of the past which has much to teach us, and highlighting challenges that need to be overcome.


Exploring the past as a universal right by traversing topics of diversity, disability, and financial access to heritage.

Attendees of the 2023 World Archaeology Summit will include:
  • Academics
  • Anthropologists
  • Archaeologists
  • Architects
  • Commercial Sector Leaders
  • Engineers
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Government Officials
  • Heritage Specialists
  • Historians
  • IGO Leaders
  • International Organization Representatives
  • Legal Experts
  • NGO Heads
  • Philologists
  • Philosophers
  • Scientists
  • Small Business Owners
  • Storytellers
  • Students
  • Technology Innovators

Letters of Light Talks @ Louvre Abu Dhabi – 12 September 2023

Letters of Light Talks

12.09.23 | English | Free | Auditorium
Louvre Abu Dhabi presents two captivating talks that look into the profound themes of our new Letters of Light exhibition.

Talk 1: Letters of Light Curators Talk
Time: 17:00 – 18:00

Explore the exhibition’s artistic heritage as curators Laurent Héricher and Souraya Noujaim, alongside moderator Mariam AlDhaheri, take you on a captivating journey. Gain fresh insights into the living traditions, thoughts, and practices resonating with scriptural legacies in our world.


Talk 2: Archaeology and Architecture
Time: 18:30 – 19:30

Join Dr. Timothy Power, Dr. Mark Jonathan Beech, Manal Ataya, as they uncover the interconnectedness of cultures through the lens of archaeology, architecture, and the enduring power of foundational texts, images, and stories.

Join us in contemplating the lasting impact these legacies have on humanity.

Reservation is required. Please book separately for each talk.


New paper published about 6500 BCE structure on Ghagha Island

A new paper has just been published concerning the discovery of a remarkable 6500 BCE structure on Ghagha Island:

Noura Hamad Al Hameli, Richard Thorburn Cuttler, Mark Jonathan Beech, Rémy Crassard, Ahmed Abdalla Elfaki, Peter Magee & Kevin Lidour. 2023. New light on the Neolithic fertile coast: recent excavations on Ghagha Island (Abu Dhabi Emirate, UAE) and the emergence of domestic architecture in ancient Arabia.  Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 52: 139–155.


Ghagha island is located at the westernmost extent of Abu Dhabi emirate, c.1 km from the UAE mainland. Survey and excavation by the Department of Culture and Tourism: Abu Dhabi has identified two previously unknown Neolithic sites on the island (GHG0014 and GHG0063). GHG0014 comprises a cluster of stone-built rooms, preserved to nearly 1 m in height. GHG0063 is still under excavation but comprises ash lenses and stone features. Finds from both sites include bifacial barbed and tanged arrowheads, fragments of plaster vessels, and other stone implements.

Radiocarbon dates from GHG0014 indicate that it was occupied by 6500 cal BC. This is considerably earlier than any known domestic architecture in the region. A single assay from GHG0063 is in broad agreement with this chronology.

In this paper we explore the implications of these discoveries for Neolithic coastal life in the Arabian Gulf, especially considering our growing understanding of the Flandrian Transgression. In addition, we position these discoveries against the normative framework which sees trade with Ubaid period Mesopotamia as a catalyst for economic change. Lastly, we explore how both sites, in combination with the discoveries from Marawah Island, can disarticulate the linear narrative of the Neolithic revolution in the ancient Near East.

Keywords: Neolithic, stone architecture, settlement, Arabian Gulf, Bronze Age

New paper published about Iron Age and Late Islamic Lime Production

A new paper has just been published concerning Iron Age and Late Islamic period lime production on Jubail Island:

Aurore Lambert, Corentin Biets, Benjamin Durand, Célia Casado, Élodie Lassalle, Paloma Lorente-Sebastián, Thibaut Peres, Jan Veron, Samara Broglia de Moura, Mark Jonathan Beech, Richard Thorburn Howard Cuttler & Peter Magee. 2023. Characterizing techniques and marine resource exploitation for Iron Age and late Islamic lime production on Jubail Island (Abu Dhabi): the 2021 archaeological investigations. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 52: 221–235.


As part of Jubail Island’s development process, an archaeological investigation was undertaken by Eveha International in 2021, monitored by the Historic Environment Department at the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT), Abu Dhabi. The scientific goals were to identify and characterize the archaeological settlements on Jubail Island and to define the site’s environmental context. Both Iron Age and late Islamic lime production were discovered through heap-burning kilns and constructed kilns, using coral and shells as raw material. The island was used for lime production over a long period. No permanent settlements have been identified to date and artefacts are few. The production seems to be opportunistic and intermittent in scale. Further research is needed to relate the late Islamic period production to the lifestyle shift of the nomadic population as they shed light on an unsuspected and underrated kind of lime production. That is part of a much larger occupation of the island and of the intricate socio-cultural history of Abu Dhabi’s development. Considering the surrounding surveys and Abu Dhabi historical development, it merits further investigation and promotion to the general public.

Keywords: lime, mangrove, late Islamic period, Iron Age, kiln

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