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The Holocene Humid Period in the Nefud Desert: Hunters and Herders in the Jebel Oraf Palaeolake Basin, Saudi Arabia

Guagnin, M; Breeze, P; Shipton, C; Ott, F; Stewart, M; Bateman, M; Martin, L; ... Petraglia, M; + view all (2020) The Holocene Humid Period in the Nefud Desert: Hunters and Herders in the Jebel Oraf Palaeolake Basin, Saudi Arabia. Journal of Arid Environments , 178 , Article 104146. 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2020.104146. Green open access

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Abstract

Archaeological surveys and excavations in the Jebel Oraf palaeolake basin, north-western Saudi Arabia, have identified a well-preserved early- to mid-Holocene landscape. Two types of occupation site can be distinguished: nine small and ephemeral scatters from single occupation phases on the slopes of sand dunes and three hearth sites indicative of repeated occupation on palaeolake shorelines. In addition, 245 rock art panels, 81 cairns, and 15 stone structures were recorded. This diverse dataset provides an opportunity to reconstruct occupation patterns and changes in landscape use. A particularly important site, Jebel Oraf 2, documents two episodes of lake high stands at ca. 6500 BC and 5300 BC, flooding parts of the locality. Neolithic pastoralists likely occupied the site after the end of the wet season, when the terrain was dry. Earlier sites are located in dune embayments some 7–14 m above the shore of the palaeolake. These locations are consistent with hunting strategies identifiable in the rock art that suggest wildlife was ambushed at watering places. Later rock art at Jebel Oraf also documents the hunting of wild camel in the Iron Age. The lithic industries documented in the Jebel Oraf basin support arguments of repeated contact with Levantine populations.

Type: Article
Title: The Holocene Humid Period in the Nefud Desert: Hunters and Herders in the Jebel Oraf Palaeolake Basin, Saudi Arabia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2020.104146
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2020.104146
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Neolithic, Pastoralism, Palaeolake, Rock art, Landscape, Saudi Arabia
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10092818
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