Palaeoenvironmental and sea level changes during the holocene in eastern Saudi Arabia and their implications for Neolithic populations

Adrian G. Parker, Mike W. Morley, Simon J. Armitage, Max Engel, Ash Parton, Gareth W. Preston, Hannah Russ, Philipp Drechsler

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper presents the key findings of a multidisciplinary study investigating the nature and timing of coastal landscape evolution in eastern Saudi Arabia during the Holocene. To date, most sea level reconstructions for the Arabo-Persian Gulf are based on uncalibrated 14C ages without correction for marine reservoir effects, or lack precision with regard to the effects of neotectonic changes, indicators of sea level used, errors in elevation of sedimentary units used, and the relationship with actual tides. As a consequence, the nature and timing of relative sea level (RSL) changes during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene remain poorly understood. To help address this, we use sea level index points (SLIPs) based on calibrated 14C ages to present a RSL curve for the central-southern Gulf of Saudi Arabia from coastal sabkha deposits near the archaeological site of Dosariyah. The sediments record rapid transgression during the early Holocene with a mid-Holocene high-stand immediately prior to 6880–6560 cal. BP when the upper limit for the palaeo Mean Highest High tide water (MHHW) was 2.8–3.10 m above present day mean sea level. Transgression continued until shortly after 5575–5310 cal. BP with an upper limit to the palaeo-MHHW of 3.75 m above present sea levels. Thereafter a fall in RSL was recorded, with the regression leading to the progradation of the coastal system and the development of coastal sabkhas. Nonetheless later transgressions are recorded in the region between 4848–4536 and 4335–3949 cal BP. Radiometric dating results from archaeological excavations at Dosariyah, one of the most important Neolithic coastal sites in the Gulf, suggest that occupation of the site during the Neolithic coincides with the mid-Holocene marine transgression (ca. 7200–6500 cal. BP). Whilst the close proximity of the site to the sea may have facilitated maritime exchange activities, occupation of the site was short-lived and the phase of abandonment occurred during a period of rapid RSL rise, which would have transformed the area around Dosariyah into an island or certainly cut it off tidally from the mainland.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number106618
    Number of pages19
    JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


    • Arabia
    • Dosariyah
    • Holocene
    • Lagoons & swamps
    • Lakes
    • Middle east
    • Neolithic
    • Palaeoenvironments
    • Sea level changes
    • Sedimentology


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