The discovery pushes the earliest date of the existence of ancient buildings in the region back by a as much as 500 years. It also means that the area now represented by the UAE was very likely once an important hub of neolithic innovation.
The excavation of the site was carried out by archeologists attached to the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT). Dating the construction was made possible by carbon-14 analysis of charcoal fragments found within the structure. And the date of 8,500 years is within the conservative range of estimates.
The structures which have been unearthed are “simple round rooms,” which have stone walls that are still preserved up to a height of almost a meter (3.3 feet), the press release says, adding that the structures were “likely houses for a small community who may have lived on the island year-round.”
The discovery showed the existence of Neolithic settlements before long-distance maritime trade routes developed, suggesting that these were not in fact the impetus for settlements in the area as archaeologists had previously thought.
Hundreds of artifacts were also uncovered, among them “finely worked stone arrowheads that would have been used for hunting,” and the team said it was “likely that the community would also have used the rich resources of the sea.”
Although the archaeologists are still unsure when the settlement was in use until, a body was discovered buried in the structures and dating back around 5,000 years — and it is one of the few known burials from this time on the Abu Dhabi islands.
“The discoveries on Ghagha island highlight that the characteristics of innovation, sustainability and resilience have been part of the DNA of the inhabitants of this region for thousands of years,” said Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of the department.