People lived near the Manhattan of the Middle East already 8500 years ago

(ORDO NEWS) — The Neolithic settlement on the Gaga turned out to be the oldest in the region.

People lived near the Manhattan of the Middle East already 8500 years ago 1                                                            Gaga Island / ©DCT Abu Dhabi

Archaeologists from the Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi (UAE) conducted excavations on the island of Gaga, located west of Abu Dhabi, and found an ancient settlement. The discovered structures are simple round houses made of stone. The walls of the buildings have survived to almost one meter in height.

Most likely, these premises were the homes of a small community that may have lived on the island all year round. In the rooms, archaeologists found hundreds of artifacts, including well-made microliths – stone arrowheads that were used for hunting.

However, this is the assumption of the scientists who made the discovery: in practice, it is often difficult to distinguish between arrows for hunting and fighting, and Neolithic societies were already at war with each other. It is likely that the community also used the rich marine resources.

People lived near the Manhattan of the Middle East already 8500 years ago 2                                                            Stone arrowheads / ©DCT Abu Dhabi

As a result of the analysis of charcoal fragments for carbon-14, the age of the settlement was determined – 8500 years. To date, this is the oldest find of human dwellings on the islands and the coast of the Persian Gulf.

Previously, the oldest Neolithic site in those places was considered a settlement on the island of Marawah, 8,000 years old. Like the village on the Gaga, it was built from local stones, but the principle of construction was different: not separate small houses, but rooms united by a common wall.

In general, the first traces of man in the Middle East date back to the Upper Paleolithic. The earliest Neolithic cultures date from 9,600 to 10,300 years ago, which is older than the finds in the UAE.

The people of the first Neolithic cultures settled along the Fertile Crescent (the territory of modern Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Israel and parts of Jordan and Turkey received such a name in 1914 from the British archaeologist James Breasted ) – and they can be understood.

But one must take into account the fact that archeology in the UAE does not yet have a very long history: excavations there began to be carried out regularly not so long ago. Therefore, the southern part of the coast of the Persian Gulf is practically unexplored compared to Egypt or Syria.

How long the settlement lasted is unknown. But about five thousand years ago, a man was buried in the ruins of buildings. Moreover, this is not an attempt to hide the corpse in the old ruins on a desert island, but a normal burial with traces of ritual activity. Perhaps the old houses played some role in the pre-Islamic beliefs of the locals.

People lived near the Manhattan of the Middle East already 8500 years ago 3

Previously, scientists assumed that the catalyst for the emergence of settlements in the area were long-distance maritime trade routes that developed in the Upper Neolithic. But the latest finds prove that Neolithic settlements existed even before the start of trade, which means that it was local economic and environmental conditions that suited people.

Most likely, the matter is climate change: at that time on the coast of the Persian Gulf it was much wetter than today. But closer to the period of five thousand years ago, the situation changed: the planet became colder, which is why the former savannahs of Arabia and Africa again became deserts, which remain today.

Although archeology in the UAE is only developing, scientists from this country have already made several important discoveries.

For example, they found traces of a herd of an extinct species of ancient elephants dating back six to eight million years ago. In the city of Al Ain, archaeologists discovered a large falaj (irrigation system) 3,000 years old – and so far this is the oldest evidence of the widespread use of such irrigation technology.

In the same El Ain, they found a well-preserved Iron Age fortress dating back three thousand years and a number of late pre-Islamic tombs.


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