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A tale of two hearth sites: Neolithic and intermittent mid to late Holocene occupations in the Jubbah oasis, northern Saudi Arabia

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Maria Guagnin, Ceri Shipton, Louise Martin, Eleanor Kingwell-Banham, Paul Breeze, Lisa Graham, Florian Ott, Mathew Stewart, Sarah El-Dossary, Badr Zahrani, Abdulaziz Al-Omari, Abdullah M. Alsharekh, Michael Petraglia

Original languageEnglish
Article number100278
JournalArchaeological Research in Asia
Volume26
DOIs
PublishedJun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: We thank His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman, former President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), and Prof. Ali Ghabban, former Vice President, for permission to carry out this research. We also thank Mr. Jamal Omar, former Vice President of Antiquities and Museums, and Dr. Abdullah Al-Zahrani for their support and assistance during fieldwork in Jubbah. Financial support was provided by the SCTH, the European Research Council (grant number 295719, to MDP), the Max Planck Society, the Dahlem Research School (to MG), the Leverhulme Trust (ECF-2019-538, to PSB) and the Research Center at the College of Tourism & Archaeology, King Saud University (to AMA). Funding Information: We thank His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman, former President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), and Prof. Ali Ghabban, former Vice President, for permission to carry out this research. We also thank Mr. Jamal Omar, former Vice President of Antiquities and Museums, and Dr. Abdullah Al-Zahrani for their support and assistance during fieldwork in Jubbah. Financial support was provided by the SCTH, the European Research Council (grant number 295719 , to MDP), the Max Planck Society, the Dahlem Research School (to MG), the Leverhulme Trust ( ECF-2019-538 , to PSB) and the Research Center at the College of Tourism & Archaeology, King Saud University (to AMA). Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors

Abstract

Hearth sites are characteristic of Holocene occupation in the Arabian sand seas but remain mostly unstudied. Excavations of two multi-period hearth sites in the Jebel Oraf palaeolake basin, in the oasis of Jubbah, now substantially increase our knowledge of these sites. In total, 17 of 170 identified hearths were excavated at Jebel Oraf 2 (ORF2), an open-air site on the edge of a palaeolake. In addition, 11 hearths were excavated at the stratified site of Jebel Oraf 115 (ORF115), a rockshelter formed by two boulders. Radiocarbon dating and lithic assemblages indicate that the majority of these hearths were in use in the second half of the 6th millennium BCE, and that both sites were used sporadically until the recent past. All hearths appear to have been extremely short-lived, and faunal remains suggest they may have been used to cook meat from hunted or trapped wildlife, and occasionally from livestock. The frequent use of grinding stones, often broken into fragments and used to cover hearths is also attested. Evidence for the exceptionally early use of metal from dated occupation deposits as well as from rock art, shows that these short-lived sites were well connected to technological innovations in the wider region.

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