WAS ARABIA HABITATED DURING PREHISTORY?

WAS ARABIA HABITATED DURING PREHISTORY?

WAS ARABIA HABITATED DURING PREHISTORY?

Little is known about how the first men settled in Arabia. Remains to date from the Paleolithic, a period defined by the appearance of humanity, are found in northern Saudi Arabia and along the Red Sea.

Current data suggest at least two migrations from northeast Africa and show similarities between assemblages of African and Arabian lithic (stone) tools.

During this very old period, the climate in the Arabian Peninsula is very pleasant and the region is not desert but green. Thanks to these favorable conditions, populations of Africa are settling in the south of Arabia. Between -60,000 and -40,000 years, as the climate deteriorates, people develop an original local culture.

In the central desert of the Arabian Peninsula and in Yemen, archaeologists have identified rare evidence of occupation dating from the Upper Paleolithic (-40,000 to -12,000 years) around ancient lakes, which have since disappeared.

The Holocene is the geological period in which we are currently living. It began 12,000 years ago when the ice age ended. For this period, there are traces of human settlement in Arabia in greater quantity.

The oldest sites date back to the 9th-8th millennia BC and were occupied by groups of hunters. The coasts of the Arab-Persian Gulf have been centers of settlement since prehistoric times, but, with the various climatic changes which have occurred, part of the archaeological evidence of these installations is now underwater.

During the Neolithic period (7th – 4th millennium BC), men domesticated plants and animals, and rock art developed. New cultivated plants are being introduced into Arabia from the Near East, possibly reflecting population movements from north to south. Southern Arabia offers favorable conditions for agriculture and human settlement in some of its regions.

The highlands of Yemen have large undulating plains abundantly watered, particularly suitable for agriculture whose only water resources are regular rains. These conditions allowed an early settlement in this region, which is currently the most densely populated in Yemen.

At the end of the 4th millennium BC, the population increased considerably, as evidenced by the appearance of villages and necropolises sometimes grouping several thousand graves.

The Bronze Age (3rd millennium – 2nd millennium BC) is characterized by the development of trade started in the Neolithic. The people of the Arab-Persian Gulf maintain intensive contact with Mesopotamia, Iran, and the Indus region (present-day Pakistan). This appears as well in archeology testifying to material exchanges (bitumen, ceramic, chlorite) as in texts.

Today Bahrain is known in Sumerian sources as Dilmun and Oman are then called Magan. The latter is particularly famous for its copper, necessary for the production of bronze objects, in particular weapons.

The intensification of these exchanges is done mainly by land routes, leading to the domestication of the dromedary and to the development of the caravan trade at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. Cabotage navigation (from cap to cap) along the ribs is also practiced and boats have been found in an archaeological context.

Read Also: SINCE WHEN IS AN ARABIC PEOPLE EXISTING?

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