UAE's oldest decorative artwork unearthed on Marawah Island

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Tarek Al Hammadi carrying out an excavation.-Supplied photo
Tarek Al Hammadi carrying out an excavation.-Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi - Marawah lies around 100km to the west of the city of Abu Dhabi and approximately 25km northwest of the port of Mirfa.


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Tue 2 Apr 2019, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 2 Apr 2019, 11:46 PM

The latest archaeological excavations on Marawah Island have shed new light on Abu Dhabi's earliest known settlement, which dates back 8,000 years.
The most recent excavations - conducted by the specialist teams of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) from February to March this year - have uncovered new evidence on the architecture, art and technology of Abu Dhabi's Neolithic inhabitants.
Among the artefacts that were unearthed were richly painted plaster vessel fragments - which represent the earliest known decorative art discovered in the UAE.
Marawah lies around 100km to the west of the city of Abu Dhabi and approximately 25km northwest of the port of Mirfa. The excavation site is situated on top of a rocky limestone plateau.
Discovered in 1992 during an archaeological survey of the island, the site consists of at least seven mounds that appear to be the remains of collapsed Neolithic stone structures.
Expanded excavations have taken place at the site since 2017 and these have concentrated on the largest mound, revealing the presence of numerous stone buildings.
The recently completed excavation season successfully uncovered the full extent of this mound with an exceptional range of artefacts found around a unique building. These included a large number of stone arrowheads, as well as decorated and undecorated plaster vessel fragments.
Radiocarbon dating of charcoal fragments from different layers demonstrates that the site was occupied between about 8,000 and 6,500 years ago.   
"The continuing archeological excavations we are carrying out on Marawah Island continue to uncover fascinating and revealing discoveries," Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said after his recent visit to the island.
"As we at DCT Abu Dhabi work to preserve, promote and protect the heritage sites that embody this history of our region so that they can inform future generations, Marawah Island continues to present stunning evidence of our past which reveals more and more of our storied origins."
Previous archaeological excavations focused on one of the smaller mounds at the site, and uncovered a well-built, three-room stone structure and some significant finds. These included an imported ceramic vase - which the public can now see at Louvre Abu Dhabi - as well as flint arrowheads and pearl oyster shell buttons, which are on display at Qasr Al Hosn.
Latest Marawah discoveries
>Presence of numerous stone buildings revealed at the largest mound of the site
>A large number of stone arrowheads
>Decorated and undecorated plaster vessel fragments
>Richly painted plaster vessel fragments (oldest decorative art discovered in UAE)

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