Ras Al Khaimah Archaeologists and U.S. University team to partner in studying biological effects of climate changes in Bronze Age Arabia

RAS AL KHAIMAH (WAM), 2nd May 2023 — Archaeologists from Ras Al Khaimah teamed up with two universities in the United States to examine 4,000-year old human remains. They wanted to know if an extreme climate change at that time could help explain how humans would react to a similar event a few decades later.

The team of professors and students from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, U.S.A., headed by Professor Jaime Ullinger visited the Ras Al Khaimah Department of Antiquities and Museums recently to examine human skeletons dating back to the 2nd millennium BC. They hoped to analyze their potential for bio-archaeological research, and to investigate the effects of climate changes on human biology during the Umm Al Nar and Wadi Sukperiods of Ras Al These human remains date from a period of extreme climate change, characterized by drought.

The visit was part of a collaboration between the Department of Antiquities and Museums of Ras Al Khaimah, Quinnipiac and University of South Alabama. Professors and students are expected to return before the end of this year.

In 2017, during a previous trip to Ras Al Khaimah, university teams studied human remains in order to learn more about the Umm Al Nar culture and its burial practices. The human remains studied were discovered in Shimal, a site that dates back to the Umm Al Nar Culture (2,600-2,000BC), where archaeologists have previously found evidence of prehistoric tombs and settlements as well as a medieval fortress.

The visit to Ras Al Khaimah last week was an initial trip to assess human remains. There is potential to take the remains to the United States to undergo further analysis and to conduct informative workshops with the Ras Al Khaimah community.

Ahmed Obaid Al Teneiji Director-General of Ras Al Khaimah Department of Antiquities and Museums said: “This partnership between Quinnipiac University and University of South Alabama is in line with the strategic vision of Ras Al Khaimah Government, which is to bring the rich and long history of the Emirate and UAE to the attention of our people and to the world.

This is an excellent opportunity to study the human remains that have been found in the ancient tombs of Ras Al Khaimah. We can learn more about how the climate changed and the lives of people thousands of years ago.

Christian Velde is the Chief Archaeologist of Ras Al Khaimah Department of Antiquities and Museums. He stated that “Ras Al Khaimah has a unique situation as there are many tombs and archaeological sites from an era when little evidence of human civilisation is left in other parts of this region. Quinnipiac’s team has found many remains at these sites that they want to examine and believe can give great insight into human development during this period.

This partnership is exciting, as it should allow us to learn more about people who lived in this area 4,000 years ago, and how an extreme drought lasting over 100 years affected their lives. We hope this relationship will last a long time and look forward to welcoming professors and more students to Ras Al Khaimah.

Jaime Ullinger is Professor of Anthropology and Co-Director at the Bioanthropology Research Institute of Quinnipiac University. He added that Ras Al Khaimah had a rich archeological history, and the communal tombs are large, interesting, and ideal for this kind of study. We have already seen the bones of the smallest infants to older people and will analyze them to see if there are any changes in health. For example, is there a higher incidence of disease or infant death due to the climate changes? We need more data to draw any conclusions.

This is an important partnership because it allows our students to learn about archaeology and the UAE. We also want to share this project with the community of Ras Al Khaimah by engaging them in workshops and sharing our findings.

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