Wednesday, 06 Aug, 2008 Environment

Bones of 6000 Year-Old Ancient Wild Camels Found in Desert


As much as 40 skeletons of ancient wild camels were discovered in Al Gharbia, the western region of Abu Dhabi, by a group of archaeologists from the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH).

According to Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Director-General of ADACH, the radiocarbon dating of the skeletons found on the site shows that these camels lived about 6,000 years ago. The announcement about the finding was made at the Seminar for Arabian Studies in late July 2008. The seminar represents an international meeting of archaeologists and heritage experts and is held each year at the British Museum in London.

After the first analysis of the camel bones archaeologists were able to determine that six thousand years ago there were two types of camels. There were young adult camels that had the size of a Bronze Age wild camel, the bones of which were found earlier at Umm an-Nar. However, several older camels were extremely large.

Historic Environment Department team at ADACH looks forward to continue with the archaeological works on the site in the upcoming winter season. Researchers will focus on the environmental side of the site along with a more detailed study of the ancient bones.

"The camel skeletons discovered in the Baynunah region of Al Gharbia represent the largest sample of ancient wild camel bones so far discovered in Arabia," outlined Dr Mark Beech, Cultural Landscapes Manager in the Historic Environment Department at ADACH.

The team of Dr Mark Beech includes the following experts: Dr Marjan Mashkour (bone expert), Dr Antoine Zazzo (radiocarbon dating expert) from the National Museum of Natural History, located in Paris, France, and Dr Matthias Huels (radiocarbon dating expert) from Christian Albrechts University at Kiel, Germany.

Due to a large number of camel bones discovered at sites such as Umm an-Nar, archaeologists previously considered that for the first time the camel was domesticated in the period of the Bronze Age, about 4,000 years ago. However, recent discoveries made at Tell Abraq and Muweilah in Sharjah emirate showed that the camel was domesticated later, about 3,000 years ago during the Iron Age.

"The new discovery of a large quantity of wild camel skeletons in Abu Dhabi's western region provides a fantastic opportunity to examine the history of the camel in Arabia," mentioned Dr Beech.

Archaeologists found the remains of the camels in a depression between sand dunes located to the south of the Baynunah forest area, where wild camels used to drink from lakes that existed somewhere between 9,000 and 6,000 years ago. Peoples of Abu Dhabi used to hut these camels. Researchers found traces of flint arrowheads made by these people.


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