6,000-year-old skeletons of camels found in UAE

August 5th, 2008 - 7:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Abu Dhabi, Aug 5 (IANS) A team of archaeologists from the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) has discovered the skeletons of at least 40 ancient wild camels dating back to over 6,000 years. The team made the discovery at a place called Al Gharbia in the western region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The report quoted ADACH director general Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei as saying that radiocarbon dating of the bones from the site revealed that they all date back to over 6,000 years.

Preliminary analysis of the size of the bones suggests that two types of camels were present.

Some of the camels were young adults of comparable size to the Bronze Age wild camel bones discovered previously at the island of Umm Al-Nar in Abu Dhabi, but some older individuals were extremely large in size.

Now, ADACH’s historic environment department team is planning further work at the site in the coming winter season.

The team will concentrate on understanding the environmental context of the site where the skeletons were recovered, as well as on the further detailed analysis of the ancient camel 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,” Mark Beech, cultural landscapes manager in the historic environment department at ADACH was quoted as saying.

It was always believed that the camel was first domesticated during the Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago, because of the abundance of camel bones found at sites such as Umm Al-Nar.

However, recent work at sites such as Tell Abraq and Muweilah in the emirate of Sharjah have demonstrated that the camel was not domesticated until the Iron Age, some 3,000 years ago.

“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,” Beech said.

Established in 2005, ADACH is a UAE government institution in charge of safeguarding, conserving, and promoting the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi.

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