Archaeologists working at a 7,500-year-old site in Kuwait have discovered a new temple and public plaza that suggest the inhabitants were far more advanced than previously thought.
Boffins reported the find at the Bahra 1 archaeological site on the northern coast of Kuwait Bay in eastern Kuwait.
The settlement dates back to the 6th millennium BC when it was inhabited by the Ubaid culture.
The Ubaids were the first agricultural settlers to move into the region, which would later become Sumer in the southernmost region of ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq and Kuwait).
Ubaid culture is characterised by large village settlements with sophisticated irrigation techniques and the appearance of the first temples in what used to be Mesopotamia.
The research at the settlement in Bahra 1 is being carried out by Polish and Kuwaiti archaeologists.
Headed by Professor Piotr Bielinski of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology (PCMA) at the University of Warsaw, the project also included the Kuwaiti archaeologists Sultan al-Duweish and Hamid al-Mutairi.
The team recently discovered a large structure at the site, possibly a temple.
Professor Bielinski said: “Indications suggest that it was a building with a cultic function and it combines elements of the Ubaid culture.”
Further research may prove that the building is the oldest of its kind, not only in Kuwait but also in the whole Persian Gulf region.
Additionally, a large space between the buildings was reported, something that Mr Bielinski identified as “a plaza or village square” and “indicates town planning, which is very surprising at a site with such an early date”.
Furthermore, at least 10 other structures and 16,000 pottery fragments were discovered at Bahra 1 since work began in 2009.
Bahra 1 is the largest Ubaid settlement found on the Arabian Peninsula.
It is believed that the Ubaid culture led to the creation of the region’s first cities and boasted a complex social structure which is still being researched by archaeologists.
Some scientists believe that the roots of urban life as we know it trace back to the Ubaid period.