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Archaeological Sites

The protohistoric site of Bat lies near a palm grove in the interior of the Sultanate of Oman. Together with the neighbouring sites, it forms the most complete collection of settlements and necropolises from the 3rd millennium B.C. in the world.

These tombs lie about 30 kilometres north-east of Bat settlement. The tower tombs are located on high rocky hills on the northern bank of the Wadi Al Ayn, where 21 tombs line up in an almost straight line. These tombs are of the same beehive style tombs as the Bat settlement and are also believed to date back to the third millennium BC. Al Ayn Tombs are built in limestone blocks. Each tomb measures 5 metres across, and they have a triangular entrance facing east.
Al Manzafah, with its forts, towers and old buildings constructed from traditional Omani plaster and cement, contains inscriptions and decorations that are looked upon as a prominent cultural landmark.

Although the old town's buildings are dilapidated, time did not destroy its landmarks, which are still a living witness to this region's glorious past.

Al Manzafah lies in Wilayt Ibra in A'Sharqiyah North Governorate.
This type of house is common in Musandam Governorate. Bayt AlQefel represents a special kind of architecture that is a testimony to the old Omanis' ingenuity and their adaptation to the conditions of the weather and life, and how they tamed the environment to suit their needs. The house is first built by digging the earth for a depth of not less than one metre. After that, large pottery jars are placed to store dates and other staples for the harsh summer months in these mountains. Then the house is constructed with an extremely small entrance that would allow no more than one person to enter almost crawling. After that the house structure was built up from pebbles (these are mountain rocks). The roof was finally put on, usually made from the trunks of jujube, acacia or latab trees and covered with a layer of mud and stones to form an insulating layer from moisture, rain and extreme heat.

The name of this type of house comes from a special locking system. It contains two locks that give the house owner greater security, and also let him store staples at home when he left for the coast during the hot summer months.
TBat Tombs historical sites are located in Bat, Al Khutum and Al Ayn in A'Dhahirah Governorate in Wilayt Ibri. They are considered one of the archaeological and historical sites that date back to the third century BC and are located to the east of Ibri. In 1988, Bat Tombs was the second site to be included in the World Heritage list in Oman. In the southern part, the site is a collection of graves built on the lines of those found in Um AnNar, while in the northern part, the graves look like beehives and date back to the third millennium BC. The architecture is similar to the tombs built in the Hafit period. Another cemetery containing 100 tombs built of stone was also discovered, where the evolution from the beehive style to cemeteries built during Um AnNar period is apparent. While the beehive cemetery contained between two to five tombs, Um AnNar cemeteries were mass graves. A similar cemetery of this style was discovered containing 30 burial chambers. The historic significance of the Bat site is that it is located at the crossroads of an ancient trade route. Caravans loaded with goods heading to other nearby destinations passed through Bat. Included with the Bat settlement in the World Heritage List are two other sites: Al Khutum "Al Wahrah" and Wadi Al Ayn Tombs.
This is an ancient rock which has inscriptions and the writings that date back to the dawn of history. This rock is reminiscent of the Rosetta Stone which was discovered in Egypt. Hasat Bin Salt is located in one of the most beautiful tourist areas in Wilayt Al Hamra in A'Dakhiliyah Governorate.
The Tombs in Bawshar - located in Muscat Governorate- are distinguished by their circular shaped burial sites, lined with stones and covered with boulders. Researchers have put the age of these tombs at the second and first centuries BC. Many overlapping divided tombs have been found stretching to a length of 22 metres, dating back to the early Iron Age. This type of burial tombs is called honeycomb tombs.
The site is located in Al Buraymi Governorate. It is an oldsettlement that dates back to the third millennium BC. This sitewas a meeting place for trade caravans between the Batcivilisation in Wilayt of Ibri, and the Um AnNar civilisation.Tombs in this region date to the third millennium BC and arebuilt like the bee hive tombs of the Bat civilisation. Also foundwas a piece of pottery similar to the pottery made duringNebuchadnezzar's reign in Iraq.
Jabal Hareem Fossils are located at a height of 1,600 metres above sea level in Wilayt Khasab in the Musandam Governorate. The trip on the way up in the four-wheel drive pushing through mountainous villages, prairies planted with wheat and green valleys is an adventure itself, and the visitor will want to pause on the journey to take in the enchanting views.

On Jabal Hareem's flat summit you can examine fish fossils and shells, in addition to other fossilised marine life. The estimated geological age of the fossils is more than 250 million years when the peaks were under the sea.
The towers are located at an altitude of 2,000 metres above sea level in A'Sharqiyah South Governorate (Eastern Region). Around 90 towers were discovered still in good condition, and this is due to the durability of construction. They attain a height of 5 metres, with a 4 metre diameter. It is not easy to reach these towers, as they are constructed high up the mountains accessed via the Qurayyat- Sur road.
In the past, Qalhat City has witnessed an ancient Omani civilization, being Oman's first capital before the advent of Islam. In the thirteenth century it was the main commercial port linking Oman and abroad.

This city was once witness to a great ancient civilisation but has since slipped away from history, geography, time and place. Nature overpowered Man here and transformed the city into a pile of rocks, scattered over a wasteland, starting at the beach, to homes that fell to ruin, to crumbling citadels and walls that once fortified the city. It is said that the city fell prey to an earthquake in the fourteenth century. The Portuguese also invaded and occupied Qalhat until they were expelled in the late sixteenth century AD.

Qalhat's history dates back to the Bronze Age, when it was a major city and the first capital of Oman. Also, due to many characteristics that augment its unique and distinctive location, and being an important city and port, it had the advantage of attracting travellers, explorers and seekers after knowledge. The ruins of Qalhat include Bibi Mariam's shrine (Bibi means "free") who is said to be an elderly woman who built a mosque, while some historical sources mentioned that she was the governor of Qalhat during the reign of King Hormuz (Kotob Eddine Yamtuhin). At the shrine entrance, there is a crypt leading to underground corridors beneath the floor of the shrine.

The site is located in A'Sharqiyah South Governorate (Eastern Region)
Excavations in Ras AlHadd Discoveries in the Wilayt Sur inA'Sharqiyah South Governorate(Eastern Region) reveal ruins that date back to the prehistoric period in the Sultanate of Oman. The building contains three rooms for two or three houses built round a small courtyard. It is believed that some relics found in this site may date back to the days of Mesopotamian civilisation. Pieces of shell for making rings have been found, which indicates that this region was used for many crafts. A limestone incense burner was also found that dates back to approximately 2200 BC. Also found are two pieces of porphyry stones from a vessel base that dates back to the Egyptian civilisation. This indicates a cultural link between Oman and Pharaonic Egypt. Some women's jewellery dating back to 2700 BC was also found there.
Located in Dhofar Governorate and is known to be part of the frankincense road. The location tells the story of an ancient civilization in Dhofar, as Samharam city and its reputed port which history dates back to 1000 BC constituted a link between Dhofar and other parts of the world. It is reported that the port acquired fame and significance since ancient history as the jars of Omani frankincense bound to (Balqees) the Queen of Sheba were loaded from Samharam Port, which is located east of (Salalah) City in the region located between Wilayt (Taqa) and (Mirbat). The area is currently called Bokhor Rori, and it is the natural course of the known Darbat waterfalls in Dhofar governorate.

The port is also known as "Moshka Port" that was prescribed in two Greek scrolls dating back to the era between the first and second centuries AD. Archeological excavations in Samharam city unearthed a number of scrolls, an old temple, coins and historical artifacts all of which indicated a close historic association with India, the countries between both rivers (Tigress and Euphrates), and the Nile river area.

Researchers date back the city of Samharam to 3000 BC.
The historical significance of Salut is directly connected with the dawn of the Omani history, which first saw the light with the arrival of Arab tribes in Oman from different regions of the Arabian Peninsula. This site is witness to the beginning of settlements in Oman. Salut Archaeological Site is located on top of a rocky hill in A'Dakhiliyah Governorate.

Ruins have been found that date back to the Iron Age between the period 1,400 to 600 BC. There is no doubt that the location of Salut is one of the most important sites containing ruins that help explore the Iron Age, whose development in the eastern Arabian Peninsula is still not well understood .

From a historical and archaeological perspective, the site is noted for its fortified buildings and architectural style which is impressive for that era, in addition to the use of the Falaj Irrigation System.
The ruins of Awbar lie in Dhofar Governorate. This city remained lost for centuries and was considered one of the mysterious archaeological secrets of the Middle East region.

Awbar, whose ancient history was a tale told by successive generations of Arab desert dwellers, was mentioned in a number of ancient books. Lawrence of Arabia called it "the Atlantis of the Sands". Researchers believe that this city was built 5,000 years ago and played a prominent role in ancient times.

Throughout the centuries, Awbar tantalised the minds of explorers and archaeologists. Ever since the 1930s, several campaigns have been initiated to search for the city. The search and exploration continued to the end of 1991, when help from the US space agency was sought for satellite imaging. An entire city was discovered sleeping beneath the sands. The news of the Awbar discovery travelled far and wide and was front page news round the world. Afterwards, it was named one of the most important ten discoveries of the year by publications such as Discovery, the Times and Newsweek.

Researchers have found ruins dating back to 1,000 BC. Apparently, the city was surrounded by warehouses to store the precious commodity of frankincense. Scientists have discovered that the castle walls were built over a huge limestone cave. The collapse of the cave resulted in burying the city under the sand. For archaeologists, the period following Awbar constitutes a new understanding of the ancient past of the Arabian region. The discovery of this ancient city was followed by three years of exploration, during which researchers were able to determine a number of sites associated with Awbar's prosperity and the frankincense trade.
This is located 2 kilometres south-west of the Bat settlement and includes a tower constructed during the third millennium BC on the top of a small hill. The tower is oval shaped and has two additional walls. Spreading over the hills surrounding the tower is a series of tombs dating to the third millennium BC.
These tombs are located in A'Dakhiliyah Governorate. Historians say that they date back to the third millennium BC. The Ancient Zakeet Tombs lie on a cylindrical hill overlooking the village, and consist of two walls of mountain rocks that resemble a beehive. The existence of these tombs on the hilltop led researchers to assume that the site was used as a fortress to repel invading armies.
Archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn
The protohistoric site of Bat lies near a palm grove in the interior of the Sultanate of Oman. Together with the neighbouring sites, it forms the most complete collection of settlements and necropolises from the 3rd millennium B.C. in the world. Outstanding Universal Value.

Brief synthesis

The protohistoric archaeological complex of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn represents one of the most complete and well preserved ensembles of settlements and necropolises from the 3rd millennium BCE worldwide. The core site is a part of the modern village of Bat, in the Wadi Sharsah approximately 24 kilometres east of the city of Ibri, in the Al-Dhahira Governorate of north-western Oman. Further extensions of the site of Bat are represented by the monumental tower at al-Khutm and by the necropolis at al-Ayn. Together, monumental towers, rural settlements, irrigation systems for agriculture, and necropolises embedded in a fossilized Bronze Age landscape, form a unique example of cultural relics in an exceptional state of preservation.

Seven monumental stone towers have been discovered at Bat and one is located in al-Khutm, 2 km west of Bat. The towers feature a circular outer wall about 20-25 m in diameter, and two rows of parallel compartments on either side of a central well. The earliest known tower at Bat is the mud-brick Hafit-period structure underneath the Early Umm an-Nar stone tower at Matariya. The latest known tower is probably Kasr al-Rojoom, which can be ceramically dated to the Late Umm an-Nar period (ca. 2200-2000). All of the stone-built towers show dressed blocks of local limestone laid carefully with simple mud mortar. While conclusive evidence of their function is still missing, they seem to be platforms on which superstructures (now missing) were built – either houses, or temples, or something else entirely.

The vast necropolis at Bat includes different clusters of monumental tombs that can be divided into two distinct groups. The first group is Hafit-period "beehive" tombs located on the top of the rocky slopes surrounding Bat, while the second group extends over a river terrace and includes more than a hundred dry-stone cairn tombs. Another important group of beehive tombs is located at Qubur Juhhal at al-Ayn, 22 km east-southeast of Bat. Most of these tombs are small, single-chambered, round tombs with dry masonry walls dating to the beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE. Others are more elaborate, bigger, multi-chambered tombs from the second half of the 3rdrd millennium BCE.

As in many other ancient civilizations, monuments in ancient Oman were usually built with regularly cut stones. Unique of Bat and al-Ayn are the remains the ancient quarries from which the building materials were mined, and the many workshops that attest to the complete operational procedure, from the quarries, to the stone-masonry, to the buildings construction techniques. The continuous and systematic survey activities constantly increase the types and number of monuments and sites to be documented and protected, which include villages and multiple towers, quarries associated with the Bronze Age stone-masonry workshops, Bronze Age necropolises, an Iron Age fort, Iron Age tombs, and two Neolithic flint mines connected with workshop areas for stone tool-making. Criterion (iii): The area encompassing the settlements, the necropolises and the workshop areas of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn is the most complete and best known archaeological complex in Eastern Arabia for the 3rd millennium BCE. Cuneiform texts of ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq), dating to the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, tell us that the country of Magan (Oman) was at the time the principal extraction centre of copper, which was exported overseas to Mesopotamia to the northwest, and possibly to the Indus Valley in the east. Archaeological evidence for the appearance of a more hierarchical and structured social organization is attested at Bat in both the settlements, where circular monumental structures contrast with rectangular houses, and the necropolises, where the arrangement of funerary space increased in complexity and the grave goods testify to higher living standards and social changes mainly due to the introduction of a long-distance trade economy.

Criterion (v): In a restricted, coherent space, the necropolis of Bat bears characteristic and unique witness to the evolution of funeral practices during the Early Bronze Age in the peninsula of Oman.


The archaeological sites of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn encompass the most unique ensemble of 4000-5000 year-old burial monuments, towers, and remains of settlement in the Arabian Peninsula, representing an extraordinary example of the unique response of the ancient people of Oman to the pressures of an increasing population and to the input from contacts with other civilizations.

The actions of time, erosion and weathering processes, has slightly damaged some structures, but in general, the sites at Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn are very well preserved and they continue to express their exceptional cultural value and incredible monumentality.


Bat and its surroundings represent a mosaic of intact, authentic monuments of great antiquity, represented not only by villages and funerary buildings, but also by the many monumental towers and irrigation dams. For centuries, the tombs were used and reused, thus preserving their original function and meaning. Protection and management requirements

The archaeological complex of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn are protected by the law for National Heritage Protection of the Sultanate of Oman (1980), and they are studied and preserved under the control of the Ministry of Heritage & Culture and its Department of Excavations and Archaeological Studies (DEAS). The Ministry of Heritage & Culture is presently developing a new "Management Plan" and a new "Memorandum of Understanding", focusing on the following three points:

(I) to protect the site from destruction by regulating access to and development of specific parts of the site; (II) to promote understanding of the meaning of each site and monument through scientific study of archaeological remains and the contemporary landscape; and (III) to promote the dissemination of these studies through the development of an interpretive programme oriented for local and international tourism, including the creation of one or more interpretation centre at site.

To answer these goals, the following elements are under way or planned: Since 2004 the Ministry of Heritage & Culture there has started a comprehensive international project in close collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Museum (Philadelphia, USA), the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo, Japan), the German Mining Museum (Bochum, Germany), and the University of Tübingen (Tübingen, Germany), for the documentation, the study and the conservation of the archaeological complex of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn. Research have been concentrated on tombs (German Mining Museum and University of Tübingen), monumental towers (University of Pennsylvania Museum), local settlement patterns (University of Pennsylvania Museum and University of Tübingen), and quarries (German Mining Museum). In 2009, the Department of Explorations & Archaeological Studies of the Ministry of Heritage & Culture excavated the monumental tower at al-Khutm.

The continuous collaboration and interaction between all teams involved in the study of the archaeological complex of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn, under the constant supervision of the Ministry of Heritage & Culture, has resulted in the creation of a more detailed typology for the tombs and the monumental towers. Moreover, this research strategy has led to an increasing understanding of the social-cultural and environmental contexts that eventually resulted in the foundation and the development of such a complex mosaic of villages, necropolises and hydraulic structures still visible at Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn. In light of recent discoveries at al-Ayn, it might be worth considering an enlargement of the boundaries of the property for the re-inscription of Bat, Khutm, and al Ayn to include also the row of tombs locally known as Qubur al-Jehhal, situated near the modern village of al-Ayn. Plans are being developed to begin the restoration of the best preserved monumental tower, the so-called Kasr al-Rojoom.

A local inspector has been entrusted by the Ministry of Heritage & Culture to monitor the construction and the development of modern infrastructures and any potentially destructive access to the sites. The main cemetery site was already partly fenced off from vehicular traffic, but the construction of a complete fence began in 2009.

The area surrounding the sites will be tested by means of non-invasive geophysics techniques (e.g. magnetometry and ground penetrating radar) to find an appropriate place for building a visitors centre, a museum, the car park, and all the facilities requested to enhance the public fruition of the sites.

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