Evidence of an 8,500-year-old building was recently discovered in the United Arab Emirates, according to a statement released by the Emirati Department and Culture and Tourism yesterday. The archaeological dig uncovered the stone structure on the island of Ghagha, not far from Abu Dhabi. The ruins now constitute the oldest known structure in the Emirates.
Though it had been previously believed that the region had been settled amid the onset of trade routes, this newly uncovered structure shows that people settled in the area in the Neolithic region simply to live there, rather than just to conduct business. The U.A.E. has often been viewed as being inhospitable due to its climate and useful only for trade or resources, but the Department and Culture and Tourism said this find suggests otherwise.
The structure reveals some simple rooms within which many artifacts were found, including arrowheads. It’s unclear how long the settlement was occupied before it was abandoned. However, it is known that a burial that took place there some 5,000 years ago, which suggests that the place held important cultural significance.
“The discoveries on Ghagha island highlight that the characteristics of innovation, sustainability and resilience have been part of the DNA of the inhabitants of this region for thousands of years,” said Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of an Abu Dhabi branch of the Department and Culture and Tourism, said in the statement. “The finds reinforce an appreciation of history, as well as the deep cultural connections between the people of the UAE and the sea. We are also reminded that there is still much to discover across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and that it is vitally important we continue working to discover, preserve and protect our invaluable heritage for current and future generations to learn more about our ancestral past.”