Local adaptation and inter-regional contact in the Neolithic of northern Saudi-Arabia
The Beyond the Margins project aims to investigate the economic transition from hunting to herding in Saudi Arabia in the 7th millennium BC. While the emergence of farming in the Levant and the Fertile Crescent has been intensively researched since the 1950s, the archaeology of Northern Arabia remains largely unknown. The project will use excavation and scientific analysis to identify the role climatic change, population movements and exchange of ideas played in the introduction of livestock in Arabia, and identify adaptation strategies to the marginal environment of the Nefud desert.
The location of Jubbah, an oasis on the southern edge of the Nefud desert, provides an ideal setting to establish the extent to which the Neolithisation process in northern Saudi Arabia was driven by local developments or migration of Levantine herders. The project investigates evidence for local subsistence strategies at two multi-period occupation sites at the edge of a palaeolake, using archaeozoological and archaeobotanical analyses. Surveys of the surrounding landscape allow a reconstruction of changing settlement patterns across the early Holocene, which can be linked to environmental records of the local palaeolake. Moreover, interregional contact will be explored through detailed analyses of the recovered material culture, particularly stone tools, shell beads, pottery, as well as rock art. Fieldwork will also target Neolithic stone structures and burial cairns with the aim of using ancient DNA and isotope analysis to help identify mobility patterns.