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Shell tool technology and new insights into techno-cultural strategies during the Neolithic in Eastern Arabia. An initial case study from Umm al-Quwain (United Arab Emirates)

Abstract: The production and use of shell tools has been reported from the Neolithic (c. 6500-3300 BCE) to the Late Bronze Age (c. 1600-1300 BCE) - or the Early Iron Age c. 1300-1000 BCE) - along the eastern shores of the Arabian Peninsula. The latter are described as large bivalve shells whose ventral margin has been retouched. However, to date, no functional analysis has been performed to understand the use of these unusual tools, despite the recognised importance of marine resources in the cultural development of Protohistoric societies in this region. This paper, therefore, aims to present the findings of a large number of worked shell valves collected from excavations at Neolithic sites in the Umm al-Quwain area in the Northern United Arab Emirates, over the past 20 years. It introduces the first functional study of shell tools in the Arabian Peninsula and contributes to the knowledge of techno-cultural processes among the Neolithic coastal communities of this area. Comparisons with experimental specimens have allowed us to highlight the use of shell tools for various activities, including butchering and woodworking tasks, and the processing of animal skins in-line with the production and use of ochre. Most of the specimens studied evidenced use-wear resulting from the processing of vegetal fibres, suggesting basketry or rope production. Although further work is required on material retrieved from other sites in the region, the results from the Umm al-Quwain area already constitute a huge step forward in reconstructing past productive activities during the Neolithic, opening a new area of research for the Archaeology of Eastern Arabia.

 Fuente: Archaeological Research in Asia, 2024, 38, 100520

 Publisher: Elsevier

 Year of publication: 2024

 No. of pages: 24

 Publication type: Article

 DOI: 10.1016/j.ara.2024.100520

 ISSN: 2352-2267,2352-2275

 Publication Url: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ara.2024.100520