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Archaeology

Sub Section: Forts & Castles Archaeology Traditional Souqs

Since the establishment of the Ministry in the mid seventies, programs and plans were made to initiate a wide operation in the field of excavations and archaeological survey. The efforts were fruitful and an archaeological map was prepared showing the different archaeological sites throughout the Sultanate dated to different ages. Care for archaeology goes back to the beginning of the fifties and sixties of this century. The major excavation sites were concentrated in several areas but mainly in Khor Rori, Al Balid, Al Mughsayl, Sohar and other locations. The most important Archaelogical sites in the Sultanate are :

Wubar

Wubar lies in Shisr district, south of the Rub al Khali (Empty Quarter) desert some 170 kms north of Salalah. Islamic sources refer to Wubar as the home of the Azd people and record that the overland frankincense and incense trade route passed through the Empty Quarter. The Nationalاضغط على الصورة للتكبير Committee for the Supervision of Archaeological Surveys in Oman, in cooperation with an American university, carried out surveys and exploratory work on the site and found pottery, glass, incense containers and fragments of chess set which dates it from the lst century BC up to the early and middle Islamic period. It would appear that the site flourished as a trade centre up to the beginning of the 16th century AD when it ceased to be of commercial importance following the collapse of the frankincense trade.

Khor Rori - Sumharam

The Khor Rori sites are adjacent to the lagoon on the coastal strip in the Taqa region, 40 kms east of Salalah. Historical sources and archaeological exploration by an Italian university indicate that the history of this city spans several eras – some dating back as far as the lst century BC to the 3rdاضغط على الصورة للتكبير century AD and others date from the 4th century BC. Inscriptions in the South Arabian alphabet give clues which indicate the city was built to reinforce its people’s control over the frankincense trade. Coins also found indicate it was the site referred to as Sumharam and the port of Moscha in two Greek texts dating from the period between the lst and 2nd centuries AD.
The great gate of the town indicates that the citadel had an outer wall with towers and three gates, and that its main entrance was protected by square towers. It contained an inner structure which may have been a temple or castle consisting of large frankincense stores. Other finds include coins, earthenware pots, bronze objects, and a 2l cm high incense burner.

Al Baleed

The city of Al Baleed lies on Salalah’s coastal strip and covers an area of 640,000 square metres. During the Middle Ages the town played an important role in world trade through its harbour and links with the ports of China, India, Sind, Yemen and East Africa, as well as with Iraq and Europe.اضغط على الصورة للتكبيراضغط على الصورة للتكبير A German university and Omani team date the site from the Islamic period, though the area was inhabited from the end of the 5th and beginning of the 4th millennia BC. The city was re-established in the 4th century AH/10th century AD at the time of the Mujais dynasty and was rebuilt during the Habudhi period.
The main archaeological discoveries in al Baleed include the great mosque which has around 144 pillars and is nearly square in shape. It has outbuildings, a minaret and is believed to have been built during the 7th century AH/13th century AD and remained in use until the llth century AH/17th century AD. The city is surrounded by a moat.
In the Wusta (central) region stone implements have been excavated from the Asholite civilisation. An American and Omani team are working on the migration of early man from Africa to Asia via Oman across a land bridge that existed before the Red Sea trench was formed.
Excavations continue in the Ja’alan (eastern) region on the sites at Ras al Hadd and Ras al Jinz where it is believed there has been human development from the Holocene period in the 7th millennium BC to the arrival of Islam. Italian, French, British and Omani teams are focusing on maritime trade in this area during the 2nd half of the 3rd millennium BC. Pits in the area suggest that 4th millennium BC fishing communities built
round huts directly onto the rocks, and finds have included copper fishhooks, small implements, spear-heads, and potsherds originating in Mesopotamia.
At Al Suwaih evidence of successive fishing settle-ments from 6,000-4,000 BC have been uncovered.Excavations at Ras al Kabbah have revealed that this is a 5th-4th millennium site which was located on a rocky promontory between the sea and a dried up creek. Marine resources from the creek were used in abundance. Findings at Wadi Shab (near Sur) have included 24 rings (or fragments of rings) made of smooth soapstone.

Ras al- Hamra:

The site was discovered by archaeological survey conducted in the 1970, but the actual excavations started in 1980. The site dates back to the middle of the fourth millennium BC.

It is a shell - midden height of 90 metres long and 45 metres wide. Excavations revealed the presence of settlements built of sand, shells, fish bones, ash, and coal. The findings contain fishing tools, hooks made of shell, while the net - sinkers, Hammers and Axes were made of stone and women's ornaments made of shells.

It is noted that the skeletons discovered in the site were buried in a sitting position facing the sea ( the source of subsistence), some of the skeletons were grasping pieces of pearls. The site Ras al – Hamra was called ( The early Omani Fishermen Civilization ).

Bat:

Located to the east of Welayat Ibri. Archaeological excavations commenced in 1976. UNESCO listed the site in 1988 as World Heritage. Two types of cemetries were discovered in Bat Necropolis: Umman - Nar Tomb and the "Beehive Tomb", dated back to 3000 B.C. Importantclick to anlerge findings include objects of red pottery ware (from Jamdat - Nasr Pottery Type of Mesopotamia) and other red colour pottery of good quality decorated with horizontal black lines in addition to pottery objects with holders for hanging some of carnelian beads and copper flakes were found in the site.

Ra's al – jinz:

It is in Sharqiya Region ( Welayat Sur). Excavations started in this site in 1985. It is a settlement consisting of several buildings made of sun - dried mud bricks. The most important findings are: A pinkish potsherd bearing a four - sign inscriptions of Indus Valley Civilization; and a Frankincense burner made of limestone dated back to the year 2200 – 2100 B.C, two objects of stone vessels made of (Porphyritic Stone) dated to the early Egyptian Civilization and different collection of necklaces and stampseals.

Samad Ash-Shan:

In the beginning of early eighties, archaeological excavations in Samad ash - Shan concentrated on the study of burial areas and their contents. The cemeteries discovered consist of holes of a rectangular shape surrounded from outside by stones. It contained pottery jars of different sizes, stampseals made of stone, metal vessels, arrowheads, bronze spears, bronze horse head and several types of beads made of shell and animal bones remains. After studying the findings, three types of cemeteries were noted: Men’s burial containing bronze weapons, women’s burial containing bronze necklaces and ornaments, children’s burial containing pottery jars. In 1989 a burial area was discovered containing a small camel with a necklace hanging down from its neck. After studying this find, it is evident that the camel dates back to the "Late Iron Age" ( 200 B.C – 629 AD), marking it to be the first dated camel in Arabian Peninsula.

Al Manzifah

   Is another place of interest, in the lower part of [bra (Sufalat). Take a right turn from the main road signed (bra Sufalat 5 km, continue for 1.5 km and turn right. Follow the plantations atاضغط على الصورة للتكبير
the side of the wadi where watchtowers stand guard. At 2.3 km turn right at the T-junction and after 1.2 km the old town of Al Manzifah looms into view. Although the buildings are crumbling, it is clear what an impressive town this was. There are four storied houses with elaborately designed crenellations. The arches and plasterwork display fine craftsmanship. The wooden doors are substantial with handmade bolts and nails complementing the intricate carvings.

Burooj Kibaykib-Al Jaylah tombs

Late in 1991, a team of archeologists, working with the Ministry of Heritage and Culture made theاضغط على الصورة للتكبير first scientific inspection of the site of the tombs. Ninety tombs, dating from the 3rd millennium, have been found in the area. Although in various stages of disrepair the tombs have survived remarkably well,
perhaps due to their inaccessibility and the original good workmanship. They are 2,000 meters above sea level and one can only imagine the difficulties the workers faced in building them in such an inhospitable terrain. They appear to have been about 4 to 5 meters high and 3 to 4 meters in diameter. They are cylindrical in shape and tapered towards the top. Some are double walled. After each tomb was built, a second outer wall was constructed and the space between the two filled with small stones. Some of the tombs are two storied. In 1994, one was opened to reveal skeletal remains and burial goods, including beads and fragments of pottery.
The tombs are situated on the top of the mountains, and the route is a difficult and challenging drive out of [bra. At [bra fill up petrol, as there are no petrol stations along the route. Take the sign off the main Muscat-Sur road left for Wadi Naam and zero the odometer. The road is tarmac until it ends at a plantation at 16.5 km. As you travel this road, at 15 km you pass a large school building with a flag, and if you look to the left you will see ruins of tombs on the surrounding hills.
Once you reach the plantation at 16.5 km, follow the sign for Al Dammah which takes you right along the plantation wall. When the wall ends, take the left fork along the main graded road. Do not turn off this main road despite a track going sharply off left at 33 km. The road passes plantations and trees, continuing through a gravel plain until it starts to climb through the hills. At 55 km there is a fork with a watchtower on a hill and the side of a mountain ahead. Here take the right turn and at 56.5 km turn right to pass a village on your left.
At 59 km take the right fork where you can see the road climbing over a hill in the distance. At 68km, when you are in a flat area of grey shale, the road curves left before bearing right at 69.5 km. Soon you will see two roads going up the mountain in the distance. At 70 km take the left of these. The road goes into the wadi bottom before it begins the ascent and starts the difficult rough and steep part of the journey. The route passes some dwellings and livestock pens and affords excellent views across the area. As the track levels off at approximately 76 km, take the left fork and start climbing again-but not for long. After a further 1.5 km the top of the climb is reached and the road continues across a rocky area, which in the spring is green and colorful with grass and wild flowers.

Here you are likely to see villagers with their donkeys and goats. At 82.5 km you reach the first tombs, dramatic in their setting of spectacular mountain scenery. There are more tombs to be explored if you fork right at Green-Can fork at 86.6 km and reach the tombs along the ridge top. Here you can walk to explore and look for a campsite. If you turn left instead at Green-Can fork, after 5 km you will reach a village tucked into the Cliffside. Majlis al Jinn (lit. "meeting place of the
Majlis al Jinn Spirits") is a two-hour walk from this village. It is the second largest subterranean cave chamber known in the world-big enough to fit ten jumbo jets into the floor space and tall enough to stack them four high. Situated on a plateau of Jabel Bani Jahir,  the entrance is through one of  three inconspicuous openings in the ground. The longest drop into the cave is 158 meters and not to be undertaken without specialist equipment and expertise.

Wadi Dawkah

Wadi Dawkah is part of a chain of sites that have been historically linked to the Dhofar region’s frankincense and incense trade. It lies beyond the northern slopes of the Dhofar mountain range some 35 kms north of Salalah and here frankincense trees (Boswelia sacra) grow in abundance.


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