Excavations in Salut find cemetery

Muscat - 

The Salut excavation programme which started in 2004 under the supervision of the Office of His Majesty the Sultan’s Advisor for Cultural Affairs in cooperation with the Italian Mission to Oman from University of Pisa, recently made some new excavations.

It revealed the presence of a necropolis [cemetery], from which some 30 graves that were excavated, all robbed in antiquity. Part of the necropolis was established on top of buried older structures.

“Some graves contain luxurious materials, such as bronze drinking sets of which the most astonishing element is a bowl to which a shaped spout was applied. Three horse-protome spouts have been so far discovered, plus another one with a hybrid human/animal representation,” said Professor Alessandra Avanzini, head of the Italian Mission to Oman (IMTO), overseeing the excavation project.

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Addressing a press meet on Wednesday she said, “In addition to other finds like jars, pilgrim flasks, there is an abundance of iron arrowheads, daggers, and swords. This indicates that the graves belong to soldiers of an old battle in Salut. The grave-goods from this new necropolis also reflect the renewed inclusion of Salut in a far-reaching trade network, as objects from Mesopotamia, Persia, Yemen, and the Roman Empire are witnessed.”

The archaeological materials that were discovered prove the long history of Salut, the heart of Magan culture in historical Oman.

“Materials also showed the existence of long-distant contacts with different ancient civilisations. In the third millennium BC, there is evidence of imports and contacts with the Indus valley, Persia, and Mesopotamia.”

The dates obtained from the recent analysis witness the great antiquity of the city of Salut, founded around the mid-second millennium BC.

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“A number of Bronze Age graves on the hills adjacent to Salut city were also excavated, witnessing a great variability in their structure. Some of them have already been restored to allow a good comprehension of their original aspects also to non-experts.”

The series of discoveries at Salut emphasise the richness of its cultural heritage, dating back to the early times of Omani civilisation. The place reflects the depth of its history, and the strength and energy of the Omani ancestors since ancient times in creating an urban system. “By the end of 2015, a large stone wall was uncovered dated to the Iron Age. It was part of a large settlement - the ancient city of Salut. The layout of some parts of the city is now more clear; we excavated numerous buildings, constituted by two or more rooms, separated by narrow streets. An impressive stone-built terrace system occupies the whole hill. These monuments are the highlight of the recent excavations.”

The city was built on a rocky hill and in the plain that surrounds it in a carefully planned architecture, which also includes an extensive water drainage system. This impressive project manifests the genius of the Omani ancestors. A test trench dug through the deposits inside one of the largest terraces in the city revealed the presence of manured soil, thus possibly hosting cultivated plots. Perimeter containment walls were created by the Omani ancestors, then they were filled with soil to create terraces with an even surface.

Excavation is also continuing inside a monumental terrace built at the foot of the hill, which extends over the plain. Here, what seems to be a large cistern and/or well has been discovered, and excavated so far to a depth of more than 8m.

Several elements of the settlement (the extensive nature of the overall planning, the regular layout of the buildings, the presence of an inner street network, an articulated drainage system, the presence of fortified areas, and the likely existence of areas destined to different crafts) indicate a sophisticated project planning. “Large jars gathered inside one room indicate its destination as a warehouse. The huge quantity of pottery strongly suggests that pottery making should have been carried out at the site.”

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