Oman in the Third Millenium BC
sub section- Overview
Dawn of Islam
Al Bu Said Dynasty
H.M. Sultan Qaboos
There are many locations throughout the
Sultanate which represent the third millennium BC, including Bat, Ras Al-Hadd and Samad
Bat is east of Ibri in the Dhahirah
region. A burial site located at a distance of 1 - 2km north of the village
was discovered which consisted of 100 burial sites made from stone. These
have become known as the Bat Tombs and they are circular in shape, constructed
from blocks of local stone and incorporating two walled enclosures, one
inside the other, constituting the burial structure. Parallels between
these tombs and those found at Umm Nar in the United Arab Emirates have
been made. A fine quality of terracotta earthenware has been found at
both sites and the interior walled enclosure of the tombs has had the
effect of sectioning it into several chambers.
The vestiges of six square-based stone
towers, marking out and enclosing rectangular shaped dwellings has been unearthed. It has
been calculated that the height of one of the six towers was over ten metres. Carbon
dating has placed the structures at 2750BC.
Water channels have been uncovered which
were probably used to deliver water from a more remote spot, making them some of the first
examples of the aflaj irrigation system in Oman.
The Samad Al-Shan site is located in the
wilayat of Al-Mudhaibi in the eastern part of the Sultanate. There are a number of
ring-shaped graves huddled together which are built from large stone blocks and three
different types have been identified:
The men's graves contained iron and
copper weapons, such as daggers, knives and arrowheads as well as large earthenware jars
and shells used as drinking vessels.
The women's graves have deep stone
vessels and earthenware flasks for storing viscous liquids such as essences and shells
containing a green substance used as a cosmetic, together with a variety of shells.
Dual graves, containing the skeletons of
men and women together.
Archaeological studies of the artefacts
from this site have established that it dates back to around 500BC. The pottery has been
hand-made from a coarse clay and fired at a moderate temperature. It was coated inside and
out and decorated with one of three patterns:
A fishbone design
A grid of crossed lines
Inscriptions from Southern Arabia
These decorations date back to 200 - 50BC
and were impressed onto the vessels before firing. The size and function of these vessels
were as follows:
Large water storage jars
Cream-coloured vessels used for storing
Earthenware flasks used for storing viscous
Small, dark-coloured bottles which were
probably used for burial purposes only
Recent excavations have unearthed the
skeleton of a she-camel which was situated close to the rest of the burial site. It was
adorned with a necklet of stone beads which date the burial to the Iron Age.
At the Ras Al-Hadd site in Sur, an edifice
has been discovered which is constructed of brick and sub-divided into several elongated
chambers. It is thought that these were used for storage. A workshop for carving
flintheads was also identified in which were found fragments of red shert, a type of flint
specifically associated with the pre-historic period. The workshop was also used as a
production unit for making jewellery from shells, such as rings, beads and pendants.
A number of pots were found, the most
important dating back to the third millenium BC. These are of the Harappan type and
probably belong to the last of the Mohanjudaru Dynasty from India. Red terracotta
earthenware was also found, with dark stripes and illustrations. Other archaeological
discoveries include pieces of burnished pottery of the Sassanid Islamic period and also
African ware and Chinese porcelain.
The buildings are distinguished by their
unique use of brick. This is the only district in Oman and its environs, including south
of Iran, Baluchistan and the Sind Valley, where brick was used during the Bronze Age. It
has been surmised that the inhabitants of Ras al-Hadd were pioneers of using brick as a
construction material, a practise which persisted for more than 1500 years in Oman.
The most commonly found artefacts are flint
implements: chisels used for boring holes into beads, hammers, stone snare weights and
shell ornaments such as rings, necklets and oyster shells containing antimony. A variety
of beads have also been unearthed, made from red carnelian and lapis lazuli, as well as
green porcelain vessels dating to around 1800BC. There were also large quantities of bones
from fish, turtles and sharks.