Now, lakes in the desert!

Filed on March 13, 2005

ABU DHABI — Recent rainfall has brought back to the deep deserts of Abu Dhabi a sight that was common thousands of years ago, but is now extremely rare — that of large lakes in the middle of the sand dunes on the edge of the empty quarter.

A team of archaeologists from the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey (Adias) and Germany’s University of Tubingen visiting the Umm Az-Zamul area, south of Al Ain, yesterday was amazed to find a large and shallow freshwater lake covering much of a limestone plain at Kharimat Khor Al Manahil.

During the Neolithic period, around 6,000 to 7,500 years ago, there was much more rainfall in the Emirates than there is today, and some of the earliest inhabitants of the UAE used to camp around the shores of such lakes.

Now, however, with less rainfall, such sights are very unusual.

“In collaboration with the Department of Antiquities and Tourism in the Eastern Region, we have identified many Neolithic sites in this general area,” says Dr Mark Beech, senior resident archaeologist of Adias.

“We had always believed that there must have been lakes on these plains at the time — and now, thanks to the recent rainfall, we can imagine what they must have looked like.”

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