Publication details

The Al-Hajar Mts as a prehistoric refugium? On the habitability of karst mountain places in Oman during arid climate periods



Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords Mountain archaeology; Karst; Prehistoric refugium; South-eastern Arabia; Al-Hajar mountains; Aridization
Description Regarding the question of the survival of prehistoric hominin groups in the Arabian Peninsula during arid phases, the geology of karst appears to be an important factor. This is made clear by the karst springs, wadi pools and sediment-filled karst depressions (dolines and poljes) found at higher elevation within the central Al-Hajar Mts. Setting out at the zero point of prehistoric mountain archaeology in Oman, relevant information from hydrogeology, botany, zoology and oases horticulture is compiled and reviewed. The immediate concern is to provide proof for the assumption that karst lithology in the Kawr-Akhdar Area has been able to compensate for some of the negatives of unreliable rainfall in the mountains of northern Oman. Combining the evidence of the survival of endemic lifeforms with the feasibility of mountain oases, we conclude that long before the harnessing of karst-hydrological features by an oasis economy (in Iron Age 2), surface water has been available in the central and eastern Al-Hajar Mts at elevations higher than 1000 m a.s.l. in an amount to meet the needs of mobile foraging-pastoral groups. From our own study of sediment-filled karst-depressions with lithic scatters at ca. 1000 m a.s.l. on the inner side of the Jebel Kawr, we deduce a hydrologically advantageous effect of aeolian sediment on the fractured karst, here on the southern slope of the mountain chain (“Kawr Exotic”). In this view, quantities of moisture-storing silt progressively began sealing the karst depressions, allowing them to retain surface water and vegetation high up in steep and rugged mountain terrain. Karst formations evidently provided the barren central and eastern Al-Hajar Mts with “insular” water and sediment locations (huyul, singular hayl), which helped prehistoric groups to cope with phases of aridization. Based on this, we propose the Al-Hajar Mts as a viable prehistoric refugium.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info