How are new tools revolutionising history here?

The advancement of modern technology is allowing experts in Abu Dhabi to gain further insight about archaeological discoveries in the emirate.

Archaeologists have been able to create a clearer picture of times gone by in Al Ain, now known to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited places with evidence dating back to the Neolithic period.

While many of the finds had previously been discovered, such as the Bronze Age Towers unearthed almost 40 years ago, the wealth of information and data now available on the sites has vastly improved.

Dr Peter Magee, head of the archaeology team at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, explained:  “What we’re doing now is carefully excavating deeper. With the tools we have today, all of the layers are coordinated three-dimensionally using a controller.

“That means that we can recreate exactly where things were found, what the buildings looked like to an exact degree in a way that it wasn’t possible until quite recently.”

Radiocarbon dating technology – the process of determining the age of an object through radiocarbon properties – has also changed drastically, allowing experts to identify the origin of even the tiniest objects.

“You can now determine the age of a piece of wood even if it’s just a few millimetres in size. That means that we can get much more accurate dates in the chronology on how old these finds are.”


He continued: “Another technology that we’ll be increasingly looking to employ is phytolith. When a plant grows it has tiny fossilised silica that’s only visible under the microscope. Now that we have the means to study this, we can determine the type of soil and past environmental conditions of a place.”

New technology will undoubtedly play an ever-increasing role in discovering more about the emirate’s past and educating people about the country in pre-modern times.

Dr Peter elaborated, “What’s becoming surprisingly clear is the incredible ingenuity of these early people to innovate and adapt to their conditions. For the general public, they will be surprised with how incredibly interesting the archaeology heritage is here.”

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