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Seasonal Patterns of Coastal Exploitation on the Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia

journal contribution
posted on 2020-12-08, 01:48 authored by N Hausmann, Matthew Meredith-WilliamsMatthew Meredith-Williams
Copyright © 2017

Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Here we present the results of the analysis of coastal exploitation patterns in the southern Red Sea during the Middle Holocene. We focus on the shell midden cluster of the Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia, which comprises over 3,000 shell midden sites. These sites date from 6,500 to 4,500 cal BP and are part of an arid landscape. We focus on one site, JW1727, which provides a snapshot of marine exploitation and will help to understand the use of food resources within the region. Stable isotope values (δ18O) were collected from the marine gastropod Conomurex fasciatus (Born 1778), which represents 72% of shell weight of JW1727, in order to reconstruct the season of capture. Results demonstrate that 1) every season is represented within the dataset; and 2) there is increased C. fasciatus deposition during the summer and autumn months. This indicates a diet consisting of C. fasciatus throughout the year in combination with other food sources and an increase of the C. fasciatus component during the arid seasons, possibly linked to the unavailability of vegetation. Additionally, size measurements of C. fasciatus were carried out to examine changes in size distribution throughout the occupation of the site that could be related to overexploitation of C. fasciatus. However, no significant trends could be observed. In sum, the results suggest a sustainable and constant habitation of the Farasan Islands despite the highly arid conditions.


Publication Date



Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology






20p. (p. 360-379)


Taylor & Francis (Routledge)



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