This chert handaxe is from Jebel Faya rockshelter, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The artefact likely dates between ca. 95,000-120,000 BP.
This handaxe was excavated form Jebel Faya rockshelter (FAY-NE1), which is located on a 10 km-long mountain outlier located about 55 km from the Gulf of Oman. The handaxe is from assemblage C, which also included Levallois cores and flakes. Assemblage C dates between ca. 95,000-127,000 BP. The archaeologists who analysed the artefacts suggest that the toolkit was associated with the expansion of Homo sapiens into southeast Arabia from a source population in Africa rather than the Levant. This expansion correlates with a wetter climactic phase in southern Arabia between ca. 120,000-135,000 BP. In this scenario, the population in the Jebel Faya region became the source for the expansion of Homo sapiens into South Asia and beyond.
This artefact itself is on display in the Mleiha Archaeological Center and is also the subject of a spectacular holographic projection that can be seen in the museum gallery.
The handaxe is curated by the Sharjah Archaeology Authority, catalogue number FAY.NE1.53512. Scale approximate.
An Acheulean presence is well-documented in northern Arabia. Increased rainfall from 190,000-240,000 BP and again at 75,000-130,000 BP created a mosaic of rivers, lakes, and wetlands, and these rich resources attracted early hominins—perhaps Homo heidelbergensis or a related archaic hominin species—into the Arabian Peninsula. They carried an Acheulean stone technology and moved southeast from the Levant or the Horn of Africa into the Arabian interior. The site of Saffaqah in Arabia is an example of this, with dense accumulations of Acheulean stone artefacts bracketed by dates of 197,000-276,000 BP. The Saffaqah artefacts are made on large flakes (part of the Large Flake Acheulean complex) and the technological approach is similar to that seen on sites that date to the same period in Africa, such as Mieso in Ethiopia. Undated Acheulean handaxes in the Nefud Desert in northern Arabia are made on cobbles rather than flakes, more similar to the Late Acheulean handaxes seen in the Levant. These patterns suggest several waves of non-modern hominin dispersals into Arabia prior to the arrival of modern Homo sapiens, ca. 130,000-200,000 BP. Modern humans used a prepared-core technology and are documented by the discovery of a modern Homo sapiens finger bone at the site of Al Wusta-1 in the Nafud Desert, dating between ca. 86,000-95,000 BP.