Archaeobotanical Evidence for Early Date Consumption on Dalma Island, United Arab Emirates

By Beech, Mark; Shepherd, Elizabeth | Antiquity, March 2001 | Go to article overview

Archaeobotanical Evidence for Early Date Consumption on Dalma Island, United Arab Emirates


Beech, Mark, Shepherd, Elizabeth, Antiquity


Introduction

Recent archaeological excavations carried out on Dalma island, located in the southwestern part of the Arabian Gulf some 45 km off the coast of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (FIGURE 1), have revealed exciting new evidence for the early harvesting and consumption of dates (Phoenix dactylifera). Work carried out at the site (DA11) between 1992 and 1994 as part of the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey established the presence of an early Neolithic beach settlement with structures and middens (Flavin & Shepherd 1994). Small quantities of imported painted `Ubaid ware from southern Mesopotamia were recovered, along with a large assemblage of what appear to be locally made gypsum plaster vessels. Many thousands of flint flakes and numerous tools (including drills, arrowheads, scrapers and tile knives) were found, as well as nearly a hundred ornamental beads and pendants of varying type. Food debris took the form of marine mollusca and animal remains, including a substantial assemblage of fish bones. Sondages excavated on the site in 1998 on the basis of earlier work revealed important further traces of the settlement, confirming the presence of at least two roundhouse-like structures with surviving post-holes and floors (Beech & Elders 1999; Elders & Beech 1998).

[Figure 1 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Radiocarbon dating of the Dalma date stones

During the excavation in 1998 of a burnt layer or possible hearth (context 15, first identified in 1993), located about 25 cm above the floor level of one of the structures, several interesting archaeobotanical finds were made. These were a complete carbonized date stone as well as two fragments of burnt mud-brick which had impressions of date stones within them (FIGURES 2-3). A further carbonized date stone had been recovered during the 1994 season from a redeposited sand layer just below the present-day ground surface (context 4, FIGURE 2). As no other suitable dating material had been recovered during previous work at the site, it was decided to submit both these carbonized date stones for AMS radiocarbon dating.

[Figures 2-3 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The date stones were sent to the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre (SURRC) radiocarbon laboratory at the University of Glasgow who, in conjunction with the University of Arizona AMS facility, performed the dating of the samples. The details of their findings are presented in TABLE 1. Calibrations are made using the University of Washington, Quaternary Isotope Laboratory, Radiocarbon Calibration Program, Rev. 4.0 1998, using the datasets derived from Stuiver et al. (1998). The decadal atmospheric calibration curve is used. Calibrated age ranges are calculated with 2-sigma errors from the probability distributions. The relative area under the probability distribution is given in brackets after the age range.

[TABULAR DATA 1 NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

Discussion

The previous earliest evidence for date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) remains in the United Arab Emirates were the date palm imprints excavated from Hili 8. These were from the Building VI deposit in Period 1, dating to around 3000 BC (Cleuziou & Costantini 1980). Dates also occur in late 3rd-early 1st-millennium levels at Tell Abraq, UAE (Potts 1990). Very recently date palm phytoliths have been successfully identified from a 1st-century BC--AD 1st-century layer near the main entrance of a temple at ed-Dur, Umm al-Qaiwain, UAE (Haerinck et al. 1998). This particular deposit, along with a bronze ring seal, illustrating a person holding what appears to be a palm leaf in their hand, clearly illustrates the symbolic as well as economic importance of dates in the region. Date stones have been recovered from other Gulf sites at Failaka, Kuwait, dating to 2000 BC (Rowley-Conwy 1987) and from Qala't al-Bahrain, Bahrain, dating to 1475 BC (Potts 1990).

Elsewhere, a number of carbonized date stones have been reported from the mid 3rd-millennium BC `Royal Cemetery' at Ur (Ellison et al. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Archaeobotanical Evidence for Early Date Consumption on Dalma Island, United Arab Emirates
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.