martes, 26 de agosto de 2014

Societal changes in Bronze Age Arabia... here’s the tooth in the matter

Qarn Al Harf tombs in Ras Al Khaimah

In the late third millenium BC, society in south-eastern Arabia began to change.

The environment grew extremely arid and trade with Mesopotamia was in decline.

People began to abandon settlements, leave palm gardens and, supposedly, return to a mobile lifestyle.
The Bronze Age transition from the Umm An Nar (2700 to 2000 BC) to the Wadi Suq (2000 to 1300 BC) period is hotly debated by archaeologists.

The popular view is that external forces – such as acute climate change and the breakdown of trade between regions – caused people to leave Umm An Nar centres and form smaller, more mobile communities in the early second millennium.

Dramatic changes in the archaeological record suggest people adjusted to climate change with a sudden shift.
The Wadi Suq period is portrayed as one of social collapse and cultural isolation.

But teeth from Ras Al Khaimah’s prehistoric tombs tell a different story.

A recent study of mandibular, or jawbone, first molars by the bioarchaeologist Lesley Gregoricka shows a more gradual change, suggesting that dispersal was a deliberate decision.

Prof Gregoricka’s analysis of strontium, carbon and oxygen isotope ratios show homogeneity in mobility and diet, indicating continuity instead of collapse between the late third to early second millennium BC.

Societal changes, she said, may have been an “equal or even more powerful” motivator for dispersal than climate change during this period.

Her study, Human Response to Climate Change during the Umm an-Nar/Wadi Suq Transition in the United Arab Emirates, was published online in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology this month. [...]

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