Type:  Acheulean Handaxe

Location: Suhailah-1, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates



MoST ID: 1147

Pedestal Link: https://une.pedestal3d.com/r/BELUhvyz79

Model Author:  Sharjah Archaeology Authority

This chert handaxe is from Suhailah-1, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The artefact likely dates between ca. 125,000-240,000 BP.

The Suhailah-1 archaeological site is located in southeast Arabia, about 50 km west of the Gulf of Oman and 5 km east of the al-Hajar Mountains.  The handaxes from Suhailah are from undated contexts, but all of them are heavily patinated.  They are made on large cobbles rather than flake blanks.  Based on typological grounds, the stone artefacts from Suhailah-1 are thought to considerably pre-date the Middle Palaeolithic assemblage at Jebel Faya, located about 50 km to the south, dated to ca. 125,000 BP.  A drawing of this artefact appears in the 2018 publication announcing the discovery of Suhailah-1, Figure 2.

The handaxe is curated by the Sharjah Archaeology Authority, catalogue number SUH01.  It is on display in the Mleiha Archaeological Center.  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.