UAE: Fujairah's Mountains Had Human Settlements Dating Back To 13,000 Years Ago, New Book Reveals

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Wed 19 Jun 2024, 6:03 PM

Last updated: Wed 19 Jun 2024, 11:06 PM

Contrary to popular beliefs, Fujairah was not deserted in ancient times but had human settlements dating as far back as 13,000 years ago, new archaeological excavations have revealed.

Dr. Michele Ziolkowski, author of The Archaeology and History of Fujairah, said she had found ample evidence of human settlements as well as migration routes in the mountains of Fujairah.

"Charcoal samples from two excavated trenches at Jabal Kaf Addor in Fujairah were radiocarbon-dated. They revealed a sequence of occupations at the site between 13,000 and 7,500 years ago," Dr Michele told Khaleej Times.

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The findings challenged previous assumptions that the Fujairah mountains saw only limited to no human occupation during this period.

"It is also the earliest known archaeological site in Fujairah. As research into this period continues, it is clear the Arabian Peninsula was not just a migratory route out of Africa into Europe and Asia. It was also a place where people settled," added Dr Ziolkowski.

Her book, rich with photographs, drawings, and maps, showcases how people of the ancient civilisation lived and flourished by working with the local environment. It covers topics ranging from stone tools to burial cairns, and castles to villages and rock art.

Dr Michele Ziolkowski

The book was launched as part of the Fujairah Tourism and Antiquities Department's initiative and under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, to uncover and showcase Fujairah's rich past. Numerous examples of petroglyphs (rock art) dating back to the Bronze Age, Iron Age, late pre-Islamic, and Islamic periods have been identified and studied over the past six decades, with Dr Michele personally recording over 500 individual petroglyphs. These petroglyphs provide invaluable insights into the lives and cultures of ancient Fujairah.

Additionally, buried in the papers of the Directorate of Archives in Mumbai, Dr Michele discovered the names of two previously unrecorded Sharqiyin tribe leaders from the 19th century. This was during her work in the heritage section of the Abu Dhabi Police. This is significant as in 1968, nearly 90 per cent of Fujairah's tribal population was Sharqiyin.“You never know where or when you will come across new and relevant information,” Dr Michele told Khaleej Times.

Originally from Australia, Dr Michele was an undergraduate archaeology student when she first visited Fujairah in 1993. She was immediately captivated by the emirate's natural beauty, from the rugged mountains to the lush wadis.

“The historical sites, especially Fujairah Fort and village, which captured moments frozen in time, intrigued me. I wanted to learn more about Fujairah's fascinating history,” she said.

Dr Michele returned to Fujairah in 1995 to conduct her first archaeological field season as part of her honours thesis work. She spent her time surveying and recording the Emirate's rock art in Wadi Al Hail. The experience cemented her connection with Fujairah and led her to permanently move to Fujairah in 2002.

“Since then, I have authored many articles on Fujairah's archaeology and history. I recently co-edited and authored several books, including 'Fujairah's Date Palm Gardens: A Preliminary Survey', 'The Natural History of Fujairah', and the current archaeology book,” she added.

Dr Michele views Fujairah as "home". This deep connection with the emirate has profoundly shaped her perspective and approach to studying its rich history and cultural heritage. "When you live and work in the same place, I believe you better understand the surrounding landscape," she says.

This intimate familiarity with Fujairah's environment has enabled Dr Michele to glean invaluable insights into how ancient populations interacted with and adapted to their physical surroundings.“My connection with Fujairah allows me to interpret how people moved through the landscape, what farming methods people used, how they built their dwellings."

The author has drawn upon ethnographic information passed down through the generations, including her mother-in-law Moza Al Kindi's stories.“Ethnographic information passed down through the generations also helps to better understand how people lived in this environment in the past.”

Conducting archaeological research in Fujairah has not been without its challenges as Dr Michele acknowledges. "There will inevitably be gaps in the archaeological record."

This spirit of adventure and curiosity has served Dr. Michele well, leading her to uncover valuable artefacts and insights. "Always look around for the nearest bend in the wadi track. One of the joys of working in the Fujairah mountains is never knowing what you will find. The next significant discovery could be just beyond the next mountain ridge," she says.


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