UAE

Pre-historic settlement in interior Fujairah unearthed

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The new excavations extend the known history of settlements in Fujairah and fill gaps in archaeological records.
Image Credit: Supplied

FUJAIRAH: Evidence of an early pre-historic settlement in interior Fujairah has been uncovered, thanks to an international team of researchers from the Department of Tourism and Antiquities, Fujairah, the University of Jena, Germany and Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom, on the directives of the Government of Fujairah.

The new findings underline that mobile groups repeatedly occupied the rock shelter site of Jabal Kaf Addor in the Al-Habhab region between about 13,000 and 7,500 years ago. Previously, it was believed that Southeast Arabia was uninhabited from about 38,000 years ago, when dry conditions developed, until the onset of more moist conditions around 7,000 years ago. These new results extend the known history of settlements in the emirate, fill gaps in the archaeological record, and challenge long-held assumptions about the timing of human settlement in the region.

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Saeed Al Samahi, Director of the Fujairah Tourism & Antiquities Authority, said that thanks to the directives of the Fujairah government, the department is dedicating its efforts to developing the antiquities and heritage sector and conducting archaeological surveys based on scientific knowledge and international standards in cooperation with international missions specialised in this field.

He added: “Previous archaeological discoveries in the region have indicated the existence of human settlements and unearthed tools dating back to the prehistoric period. In the study and research of Jabal Kaf Addor in the Habhab region, the department provided all logistical and scientific support to the specialised archaeological mission. The archaeological findings shed light on the history of the emirate, which dates back to the prehistoric and post-historic eras, and the chronology of human settlements that continue to this day.”

History rewritten

In this context, Ali Qasim, Director of Fujairah Natural Resources Corporation, said: “We are very proud of such a significant archaeological discovery that rewrites the history of human settlement in the emirate of Fujairah. Our cooperation with international experts and prestigious research institutions has yielded unprecedented results, shedding light on the richness of the emirate’s geological and archaeological heritage.”

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Evidence uncovered by the international team pushes the timeline of human occupation in the region.
Image Credit: Supplied

He added: “This discovery highlights the significance of the efforts led by the government of Fujairah, guided by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah. It also reflects the keen interest and oversight of Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, in safeguarding and documenting the emirate’s geological and archaeological sites. The institution is dedicated to enhancing awareness of the importance of these invaluable resources through educational programs and research initiatives, ensuring their longevity and preservation for generations to come.”

Ali Qasim

Qasim said: “This discovery confirms the importance of the efforts of the Fujairah Natural Resources Corporation in protecting and documenting our geological and archaeological sites. We are committed to enhancing awareness about the importance of these valuable resources through educational programmes and research projects to ensure their sustainability and preservation for future generations.”

Dr. Knut Bretzke, the archaeologist who supervised the excavations at the site from the University of Jena, Germany, said, “The recent archaeological discoveries at the Jabal Kaf Addor rockshelter site mark a significant milestone in our understanding of human history in Fujairah.”

Dr. Knut Bretzke

Dr. Bretzke noted that the evidence uncovered by our collaborative international team pushes the timeline of human occupation in the region back to about 13,000 years ago, challenging long-held beliefs about the habitation patterns in Southeast Arabia.

Climatic adaptability

Professor Adrian Parker, the project palaeoenvironmental specialist in this study from Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom, said: “These findings are particularly remarkable considering the prevailing dry conditions in the region during that period, which were previously thought to have made the area uninhabitable until more moist conditions developed around 9,000 years ago.

Professor Adrian Parker

“Our research not only highlights the rich prehistoric heritage of Fujairah but also underscores the resilience and adaptability of early human groups to varying climatic conditions.

“These discoveries emphasise the importance of ongoing efforts to protect and study these invaluable archaeological sites.”

As part of an initiative launched by the Government of Fujairah to identify and protect important geological sites, the Fujairah Natural Resources Corporation, in collaboration with international experts, has identified more than 30 sites with significant geological characteristics.

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The research not only highlights the rich prehistoric heritage of Fujairah but also underscores the resilience and adaptability of early human groups to varying climatic conditions.
Image Credit: Supplied

This project also led to the discovery of archaeological sites that provide additional evidence of human activities in the region during prehistoric times. Test excavations at the Jabal Kaf Addor rock shelter revealed three layers containing stone tools, animal bones and fireplaces. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal from these fireplaces indicates that the site was occupied multiple times between about 13,000 and 7,500 years ago.

The findings from Jabal Kaf Addor make it the oldest archaeological site in the emirate, covering a crucial period in human history, particularly the transition from hunting and gathering to animal husbandry and food production. Sites from this timeframe are scarce in Southeast Arabia, making the discovery of the archaeological sequence at Jabal Kaf Addor rock shelter highly significant.

The researchers also believe that prehistoric mobile groups were drawn to the Jabal Kaf Addor rock shelter due to the high-quality lithic raw material found in the Jebel’s limestone, the protection provided by the rock shelter, and access to a variety of landscapes, including the interior plain, the western foothills of the Al Hajar Mountains and wadi channels.

In a recent development, the Office of the Crown Prince of Fujairah accepted the project proposal for further excavations at the archaeological site in Jabal Kaf Addor and additional surveys in its vicinity.