New Excavations at
Ras Al-Hamra

Al-Hamra excavation site

In the first years of the new millennium, archaeological research activities were resumed on the promontory of Ras al-Hamra by an international multidisciplinary team (University of Bologna; Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne; French CNRS) under the scientific direction of prof. Tosi. The excavations of the 80s had documented an important settlement of fishermen-gatherers and a vast cemetery frequented and in use between the end of the fifth and the end of the fourth millennium B.C. Focusing on the funeral evidences these first excavation campaigns recorded 121 burials that included the remains of 215 individuals.

Recent excavation activities (2004-2005 and 2008-2013) conducted by Dr. Lapo Gianni Marcucci and Dr. Francesco Genchi, focused on the structure of the settlement providing important new information about the prehistoric fishing society that lived on the promontory more than 5000 years ago.

Living and auxiliary structures cut into the bedrock (photomosaic by F. Genchi)
The hut B23 (photo and tridimensional model by F. Genchi)

Excavations in the eastern and southern areas of the promontory have brought to light the foundations of dozens of huts, various auxiliary structures such as fireplaces for the cooking and processing of fish products (fish, shellfish and shellfish) and drainage pits. In the northern area, a new section of the necropolis has been identified, with dozens of burials, which has been more extensive than previously assumed.

The huts, identified by the holes of the foundation poles, are divided into two main types, those consisting solely of alignments of post holes and those in which there is a channel in which were dug any few post holes. In some cases a central group of load-bearing poles was also intercepted in the center of the huts.

The documented material culture, consistent with the coastal prehistoric settlements of the southeast Arabian, demonstrates the production of jewelry and tools in chipped and polished stone, in shell and mammalian bones, mostly related to fishing activities but also for everyday life and funeral goods.

From the study of ichthyologic and malacologic remains crossed to material culture, emerges a cultural continuity between the artifacts used. This continuity demonstrates that, during the long life continuity of the investigated settlements, the main vocation of the population of Ras al-Hamra remains mainly oriented to the exploitation of the marine environment and the surrounding mangrove, with scarce traces of hunting activities.

A pitted crushing stone and a fragment of earring found in situ during the 2004-2005 excavation (photo by L.G. Marcucci)

These new surveys have confirmed with new and important data the complexity of the prehistoric coastal societies of eastern Arabia.


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