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Prehistoric coastal archaeology of the Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia

Williams, Matthew Gregory Meredith (2011) Prehistoric coastal archaeology of the Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Despite being the oldest multidisciplinary archaeological discipline the study of coastal archaeology and shell mounds has received relatively little attention until recently. The recognition of the importance of coastal resources from the Holocene back into the Palaeolithic has resulted in a new focus on the theme. One of the key questions is how far coastal resource exploitation goes back and whether what we see now is purely a product of Holocene intensification. The Arabian Peninsula has received relatively little attention and the role of coastal economies in the history of the region is poorly understood compared to many areas. The recent discovery of one of the highest densities of shell midden sites in the world provided the opportunity for these questions to be addressed. A multidisciplinary project using both state of the art and tried and tested methods resulted in the discovery and mapping of nearly 3000 shell midden sites and extensive coastal change on the islands. This thesis found compelling evidence for a short burst of intensive shellfish exploitation and site accumulation, the culmination of a long history of shell midden formation in the region going back into the early Holocene. Excavation of several sites allowed the formation processes of large shell mounds to be assessed, which is another question central to shell midden research. Geoarchaeological investigations have put these processes into context with coastal change to determine that exploitation was taking advantage of a small window of ecological opportunity. Dating methods have also been scrutinised, with a new value for local Marine Reservoir Effect determined, and Amino Acid Racemization calibrated for the region and tested.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Archaeology, Red Sea, Prehistoric, Coastal
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Mr Matthew Gregory Meredith Williams
Date Deposited: 11 May 2012 07:32
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2339

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