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12 February 2005
UAE's oldest Neolithic settlement unearthed

The oldest archaeological site in the United Arab Emirates dating back to 7,000 years, has been discovered on the island of Marawah, located about 100km west of Abu Dhabi, according to Dr Mark Beech, Senior Resident Archaeologist for the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey (ADIAS). Findings and discoveries during the excavation in 2004 included a skeleton of what is believed to be the earliest-known inhabitant of Abu Dhabi.
     The excavations were carried out at the site of a 7,000 years old village in Marawah which has the best-preserved and most-sophisticated stone buildings of Neolithic date that are known anywhere in Eastern Arabia. Radiocarbon dates from the building, analysed last year, suggests that the upper layers inside date to between 6,500 to 7,000 years ago, indicating that the original construction may have been earlier.
     "Work carried out in 2000 had initially suggested that a group of stone mounds located at the western end of the island, known as site MR11, was perhaps a church and Nestorian monastic complex," said Dr Beech. "Excavations carried out at these sites in 2003 and 2004 subsequently proved that it was not a church or monastic complex but rather a series of major buildings forming an important Neolithic settlement. Radiocarbon dates as well as associated finds suggest that the settlement was established during the end of the first half of the sixth millennium BCE, around 5700 cal BCE making it the oldest site so far discovered in the UAE," he added.
     Two of these structures have now been partly excavated revealing well-constructed buildings with stone walls still surviving to a height of almost a metre in some places. An almost complete pottery vessel of a type not previously found in South Eastern Arabia from the Neolithic Ubaid civilisation in southern Mesopotamia was also discovered on the island. The pot, which is the most complete of its type and age ever found in the UAE, is also probably 6,500 to 7,000 years old, and provides evidence that the Neolithic inhabitants of Marawah were trading by sea with southern Mesopotamia.

Source: Khaleej Times (8 February 2005)

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