World’s oldest known natural pearl discovered on Abu Dhabi Island

The oldest known natural pearl in the world was discovered recently off the coast of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) by Abu Dhabi archaeologists working at a Neolithic site on Marawah Island. It has been dubbed as ‘Abu Dhabi Pearl’. It was discovered in soil layers that have been radiocarbon dated to 5,800-5,600 BCE, during the Neolithic period.

Highlights

Significance of this discovery: It gives proof that pearls and oysters were being used in UAE nearly 8,000 years ago. It also represents the earliest known evidence for pearling yet discovered anywhere in the world.

Previous Oldest Pearl: Prior to the Abu Dhabi Pearl discovery, the earliest known pearl in the UAE was discovered in Neolithic site of Umm Al Qaiwain. Besides, ancient pearls also have been found at a Neolithic cemetery close to Jebel Buhais, in UAE’s another province Sharjah.

Marawah Island’s neolithic sites

They were first identified in 1992 during a survey carried out by Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey (ADIAS). Subsequent excavations on these sites have shown them to include numerous collapsed stone structures, the earliest architecture yet discovered in the UAE. Aside from the priceless Abu Dhabi Pearl, significant finds from these sites includes imported ceramic vase from Ubaid civilisation in Mesopotamia (Iraq), beautifully worked flint arrowheads and shell and stone beads. Moreover, numerous painted plaster vessel fragments were also discovered, representing  earliest known decorative art yet discovered in the UAE.

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