Be an iconic adventure seeker of the lost past and stop by the ancient Sumhuram archaeological park. this can be your top travel destination for an adventure quest in Oman. Tap your Indiana Jones-style zeal and start looking for an ark or a grail. Here are some interesting facts on Sumhuram Salalah.
Located about 35 km from the city of Salalah, the Sumhuram ruins have been listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Take the road from Salalah to Mirbat and a road sign ‘Sumhuram Archaeological Site’ will direct you to the old city.
Sumhuram, also known as Khor Rori, is an ancient site near Salalah. Placed in an extremely favorable position overlooking the sea, it functioned as a major port of Southern Arabia. Besides being a key link in the global frankincense trade network, it was also a major pre-Islamic settlement in Dhofar.
The wadi Khor Rori lies close to the ruins and hence the place derives its alternate name. Inside the excavated walls, you can see the outlines of old housings and the remains of two temples.
The Sumhuram old city was first discovered by James Theodore Bent in the late 19th century during his journey to Southern Arabia. Later, the ground plan of the settlement was uncovered. It revealed that the trade connection among the Ḥaḑramite homeland, India, and the Mediterranean nations thrived in the ancient times.
Several bronze vessels, incense burners, and limestone basins are found from the excavated ruins. The city was small with 200 or 300 inhabitants but was well-organized. Some production areas such as a pottery kiln, kilns to produce plaster, and ovens to bake bread are spotted. It includes a city mint where metals were produced.
The Italian Mission to Oman of the University of Pisa, directed by Alessandra Avanzini, has been investigating the site for the last 20 years. Their new findings include a village of the Medieval Period. It shows the presence of humans from the Palaeolithic Period, i.e., about 60,000 years ago. Evidence of Late Neolithic age has also been found.
A large quantity of pottery from Italy in Sumhuram archaeological gallery shows exchanges with the Mediterranean cultures. Pottery, objects from India, and Brahmi-Tamil inscriptions are also discovered. There is even a museum dedicated to Pattanam, India, to the Khor Rori artifacts and shows its widespread connectivity.
The fortified city is believed to be an outpost for the Kingdom of Hadhramaut in modern Yemen. It was founded by King Il’ad Yalut I in the first century BC. It was located directly facing the sea to prevent invasions.
The rising sea trade during the period led to the growth of the city. The Hadhramaut’s desire to control the valuable frankincense trade is said to spur the creation of this settlement. The recent findings reveal that Sumhuram Salalah was the center of a maritime network.
The port was active from the 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD. The city continued to exist for almost 500 years but was deserted in the 5th century AD. A sandbar formation across the mouth of Khor Rori seemed to close the creek to ship trade.
It was a link between the East and the West with the rising trade and cultural route between distant lands. The city was planned well with private and public buildings along with agriculture lands and orchards.
And for those of you interested in a bit of fable, the Sumhuram archaeological park has also another story of fame and glory to tell. It is also connected to the Queen of Sheba of King Solomon's fame.
Sumhuram is claimed to be one of the locations of Queen of Sheba’s Fort and was believed to be her summer home. Noted archaeologist Wendell Philips excavated it in 1952 and it is claimed to be the oldest palace in Oman. The reconstruction work of the old city continues.
After all, it’s not the long years behind the structure but the memories you create there will stay with you. Sumhuram Salalah is a must place to visit for the history buffs. Get in touch with a lost civilization and ponder on the vast ruins.
Take in the spectacular view where the blue lagoon meets the green sea and head straight to the beach. Watch the flocks of camels and flamingos basking in the lagoon. Visit the Land of Frankincense Museum and glimpse the pre-historic artifacts.
The port has a long history of power and culture buried behind it. Why not go and unearth it? Do you know more about it? Let us know what you think.
Share this article on the magic of Khor Rori. Also, visit Tomb of Job, Wadi Darbat, Ayn Garziz and Al Baleed in Salalah.
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