Investigating the Palaeoshorelines and Coastal Archaeology of the Southern Red Sea

  • Robyn H. InglisEmail author
  • William Bosworth
  • Najeeb M. A. Rasul
  • Ali O. Al-Saeedi
  • Geoff N. Bailey


Numerous palaeoshoreline features including coral platforms, beachrock and wave-cut notches are present on the Red Sea coastline of SW Saudi Arabia and on the Farasan Islands. Some are associated with prehistoric archaeological material, which has been the focus of ongoing archaeological investigations over the past decade. Dating and interpretation of these features are therefore of considerable interest and relevance to the deep history of human coastal adaptation and colonization in a key zone for the understanding of early human expansion out of Africa, as well as to the study of relative sea-level changes and tectonic movements. This chapter provides details of a field survey carried out in 2014 and presents new information on the location, geological setting, geochronological sampling and archaeological associations of these palaeoshoreline features. The results of dating are still awaited, so that some of our interpretations are still hypotheses in need of further testing. At this stage, it is clear that the most prominent shoreline features on the mainland coast are at elevations similar to those dated elsewhere in the Red Sea as belonging to MIS 5e, and that in at least one exposure Middle Stone Age artefacts can be stratigraphically linked with this period of high sea level. On the Farasan Islands, coral platforms have undergone more variable and localised rates of movement associated with salt tectonics. We set out the field data in support of these interpretations and consider their wider archaeological and tectonic implications.



We thank the Saudi Geological Survey for their generous support of this research. We also thank the SCTH for their support of our archaeological research in the region. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. The November–December 2014 fieldwork team comprised Salem Al Nomani, Ali Al Saeedi, Fahad Al Rashidi, Thamer Bakarman, Adel Jurais, Mustafa Khorsheed, Najeeb Rasul, and Nawaf Widinly (Saudi Geological Survey), Geoff Bailey and Robyn Inglis (University of York, U.K.), and William Bosworth (Apache Egypt Companies, Cairo, Egypt). Bailey and Inglis also acknowledge funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the Ideas Programme of the 7th Framework Programme as Advanced Grant 269586 ‘DISPERSE: Dynamic Landscapes, Coastal Environments and Human Dispersals’. Inglis also acknowledges funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 660343, ‘SURFACE: Human-Landscape-Interactions and Global Dispersals: The Surface Record of Palaeolithic Arabia’. This is DISPERSE contribution no. 40.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robyn H. Inglis
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • William Bosworth
    • 3
  • Najeeb M. A. Rasul
    • 4
  • Ali O. Al-Saeedi
    • 5
  • Geoff N. Bailey
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Apache Egypt CompaniesCairoEgypt
  4. 4.Center for Marine Geology, Saudi Geological SurveyJeddahSaudi Arabia
  5. 5.Survey DepartmentSaudi Geological SurveyJeddahSaudi Arabia
  6. 6.College of Humanities, Arts and Social SciencesFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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