Publisher : Arabian archaeology and epigraphy
Author : Sabah Abboud Jasim
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This paper is an approach to the study and documentation of a quite large group of rock art boulders at Khatm al Melaha (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates). More than 150 decorated stone blocks, with almost 400 motifs, have been identified on a hill close to the Arabian Sea coast, highlighting its importance as a control point for communicating the coast and the hinterland. Although a domestic human occupation of the area has not yet been documented, the symbolic significance of this place is reinforced not only by rock art but also by the presence of several dry-stone tombs. Despite the limited studied area, our contribution outlines a preliminary approach to a previously very little studied territory, providing a local chrono-stylistic proposal for those figurative (humans, animals) and non-figurative (signs) engravings attending to different stylistic conventions, techniques, subject matters and varnish colour. Different digital documentation techniques (digital tracings, terrestrial and aerial photogrammetry, web mapping) have been applied in order to create an updated and accurate data corpus allowing future analysis. The ongoing research will try to find new evidence of symbolic occupation of the territory in relation to human settlements and their relationship within a wider landscape.
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Key to the understanding of Pleistocene human dispersals and settlement dynamics is knowledge about the distribution of human habitats in space and time. To add information about the characteristics of inhabited environments along the South Arabian dispersal route, this paper presents paleo-environmental data from deposits excavated at Jebel Faya (FAY-NE1) in the Emirate of Sharjah, UAE. The sedimentary sequence at FAY-NE1 spans a period of about 125,000 years, including the last interglacial and the Holocene. Particle size and phytolith content of samples from two sediment columns were analyzed, including both archaeology bearing layers and archaeologically sterile layers. The results demonstrate that human occupation of the site is related to pluvial periods. Assemblage C, dated to about 127e123 ka, was deposited during a wet phase with an environment characterized by an increased proportion of C3 grasses. Grassland with sedges but lacking tree cover characterize ecological conditions during the youngest of the Paleolithic occupation periods, Assemblage A, dated to about 45e40 ka. Environmental conditions during periods lacking archaeological remains are characterized by the absence of vegetation cover during phases of desiccation. There is no evidence for human presence at the site between 38 and 11 ka.
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Extended supra-regional networks reaching from the Aegean to the Indus region can be attested since the Early Bronze Age. In this context, due to its geostrategic location, the Arabian Peninsula offers optimal conditions for nodes of these networks and probably functioned as a mediator between the East and the West. New fieldwork conducted by the Sharjah Archaeology Authority (SAA) and the Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology (OREA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (AAS) was therefore started at the settlement of Kalba, situated in the alluvial plain in the coastal region of the Gulf of Oman. Apart from occupation layers of the second and first millennia BC, Early Bronze Age structures have been attested during previous investigations. However, information about the dimensions of the site and its geomorphological situation are still lacking. Consequently, systematic investigations, starting with detailed topographical documentation and basic geophysical analyses, were performed. The results of these first topographical and geophysical analyses of the site of Kalba have been used to conduct a small-scale excavation with the aim of providing more information on the Early Bronze Age occupation of the site. Finally, the new insights should offer the potential to assess the settlement’s function as well as its position on the north-eastern Arabian Peninsula and, moreover, within the framework of third-millennium BC trading networks.
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