Today the area around Muweilah is characterized by scattered scrub vegetation and sand dunes. Average rainfall for this part of southeastern Arabia is around 90 mm per year which is far below that which is required to practice cereal agriculture. Although it might first seem that this is an inhospitable environment, the desert, in fact, contains many resources that are useful for human and animal occupation. Date-palms can grow in this area with a minimal amount of water and local vegetation can be used by camels as fodder.
We are still investigating what conditions were like when the site was occupied 3000 years ago at Muweilah. Initially we had thought based on prior geomorphological research that the coast was the same distance as it is today (about 12kms). Thanks to a more detailed examination of the archaeozoological and archaeomalacological data it seems pretty clear that there must have been a inland lagoon near the site. This was probably not right next to the site but maybe only a kilometer or so to the west in an area today that is a large basin. In future seasons we hope to further investigate this aspect of the ancient environment.
In terms of the climate, there is increasing and compelling evidence that the period beginning about 1000 BC was of decreased winter and summer monsoonal activity. You can read more about this in Professor Parker’s recent research. This would have led to decline in rainfall and may have forced people to alter their adaptive strategies throughout the region.