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