Human settlement existed at Sharjah site 125,000 years ago - GulfToday

Human settlement existed at Sharjah site 125,000 years ago


Sheikha Bodour with dignitaries at the symposium.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) witnessed the proceedings of the scientific symposium organised by the Sharjah Archaeology Authority (SAA) on Saturday at the SAA's headquarters. The event was attended by Eisa Yousif, Director General of the Sharjah Archaeology Authority, Dr. Sabah Aboud Jasim, adviser to the Sharjah Archaeology Authority, and Mubarak Al Nakhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture, and a number of guests from outside the UAE from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The symposium featured a select group of officials from the SAA, UNESCO Office for Egypt and Sudan, archaeologists, academics, and researchers from within the state and Germany, Britain, France, and Sudan.

It was a collaboration between the SAA, the University of Tübingen in Germany, and the Senckenberg Society for Natural History, commemorating the 30th excavation season at Jebel Al Buhais and Jebel Faya in Sharjah. The theme for this 30th season is "Landscape archaeology, paleoenvironments, human adaptations and dispersals in the Arab Region". The research discussion sessions took place on February 24 and 25.

Enrichment of Archaeological Activity

At the beginning of the symposium, Dr Sabah Aboud Jasim delivered a speech in which he expressed his thanks and gratitude for the presence of Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi at the event, reflecting the wise leadership's interest in documenting and protecting the archaeological importance of various areas in the UAE. It represents qualitative support for the role of the SAA in enriching and preserving Sharjah's archaeological activity, enhancing its archaeological identity, and spreading awareness of its cultural, material, and civilisational heritage both locally and globally.

A rich history for Sharjah

Eisa Yousif, Director General of the Sharjah Archaeology Authority, affirmed that the SAA strives to conduct specialised scientific studies in research and excavation of archaeological sites throughout Sharjah. This includes the inventory and documentation of essential discoveries and rock inscriptions through researchers and archaeologists specialised in excavation, preservation, and documentation. It also includes organising major scientific conferences and symposia to safeguard the rich history of the cultural heritage of the Emirate of Sharjah and its people.

The research discussion sessions took place on February 24 and 25.

This is a history of considerable depth evident in its antiquity, as these studies and ongoing field research indicate that humans have settled many sites in the state in general and in the Emirate of Sharjah in particular. Sharjah houses the oldest known human site in the Arabian Peninsula, the rocky site at Jebel Faya in the Mleiha archaeological area, which was recently included in the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

This contributes to highlighting the history of the state by recognising its cultural value and archaeological importance on a global level, in addition to sites like Jebel Al Buhais and other archaeological sites in Sharjah.

Field studies and significant results

The agenda of the scientific symposium included a paper by Dr Sabah Abboud Jasim about the archaeological heritage and cultural landscape of the central region in Sharjah, followed by a joint review by Dr Sabah Jasim and Nicholas Conard from the University of Tübingen in Germany. In their review, they discussed important observations regarding the research legacy of Professor Dr Hans-Peter Uerpmann in Sharjah.

Dr. Sabah Aboud Jasim's presentation explained that Jebel Faya is located in the Emirate of Sharjah, specifically in the Mleiha region, and is considered one of the most important Paleolithic sites in the Arabian Peninsula. Archaeological excavation conducted in 2009 revealed a human settlement dating back to 125,000 years ago, making it the oldest known human site in the Arabian Peninsula. New archaeological data from Jebel Faya, published in scientific reports, indicate that human settlement in southern Arabia occurred under unexpected climatic conditions far earlier than previously thought.

The team used a sophisticated array of archaeological, ancient climate, and dating technologies to reconstruct four distinct phases of human settlement between 210,000 and 120,000 years ago. This decisively demonstrates that humans settled the site during both dry and wet climate conditions — challenging previous ideas about when and under what circumstances humans could have settled Arab sites during the Paleolithic period and opening up the possibility that the Arabian Peninsula may provide more evidence on human migration out of Africa during periods of drought.

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