Archeologists unearth ancient horse tooth, thousands of rarities in Hodeidah [Archives:2008/1124/Culture]

January 28 2008

Almigdad Dahesh Mojalli
A French archeologist has discovered an ancient horse tooth, in addition to thousands of rare pieces during excavations last month in the area of Khamis Bani Saad in Hodeidah governorate's Tihama district.

The month-long dig was conducted and funded by the French mission at the University of Poitiers and Yemen's General Authority for Antiquities.

According to the French expert, Professor Roberto Macchiarelli, an important prehistoric (Middle Paleolithic) site called Shi'bat Dihya has been discovered near Wadi Surdud on the road connecting the villages of Khamis Bani Saad and Bajil.

The expert stated that the horse tooth is the dig's most important discovery, as that particular type of horse currently doesn't reside in the area, but rather in Middle Asia.

The nearly 100,000-year-old site also contains an abundance of lithic tools such as cores, flakes and blades made of volcanic rock, as well as the remains of incinerated bovines and horses.

Macchiarelli affirmed that such animals had lived there long ago, but left the area due to climate change, as the climate had been dry and cold, but is now wet and warm. This fact, in particular, may open several scopes for new studies in the field of climate change in Yemen.

Sedimentary analysis indicates that the climate at that time was dry and cooler than today, with open and grassy terrain.

Participating archeologists further propose that some pieces discovered at the site indicate that the area's inhabitants were fishermen, not farmers like today, meaning that the sea was nearer.

The Poitiers-Yemen project planned to excavate in Yemen since 2005 in an effort to identify the most ancient traces of human existence in the Tihama, as well as reconstruct the geological dynamics, climactic fluctuations and environmental scenarios during the Pleistocene period.

According to Yemen's General Authority for Antiquities, the first phase of the excavation involved three areas of five square meters each. The French mission will resume the second phase by the beginning of February with a team of Yemeni specialists working for a month in three new areas.