If history is your plate, then a visit to the Unesco sites will be an interesting thing to do in Oman. Spare time to see the oldest irrigation model in the world or stopover at the unique tombs that resemble beehives. The Unesco has identified and added five cultural sites in Oman to the World Heritage list. Their efforts to preserve the ancient systems and monuments have saved many sites from crumbling ruins.
A falaj is a water channel dug in the earth. You can find these long trails of cool water running through the streets and farms in Oman. The groundwater, ponds or hot springs ensure water throughout the year for agriculture. Aflaj refers to the irrigation system in Oman carried on traditionally and dates back to 500 CE. More than 11,000 falaj are found in Oman. The aflaj is subdivided into Dawoodi Falaj, Ghaili Falaj, and Ayni Falaj based on the source they draw water from. This is a singular system that distributes water using gravity to all parts of the field.
The map of Abraham Ortelius, creator of the first modern atlas, names the ancient city of Qalhat as Calha. Inner and outer walls surround this ancient city, and it has necropolises too. As a major port in east Arabia during the 11th and 15th centuries CE, it paved way to strong trade links between the east coast of Arabia, East Africa, India, China, and South-East Asia. Marco Polo visited Qalhat in the 13th century and Ibn Battuta visited the city in the 14th century. Battuta wrote about the beautiful mosque built by Bibi Maryam. Today only a domeless mosque bears witness to the ravages of nations and time.
The prehistoric sites of Bat, Al Khutm, and Al Ayn held early settlements and tombs of the 3rd millennium BCE. A Danish team excavated it in 1973. The complex includes a monumental tower and an agricultural irrigation system. Pause and contemplate for a moment these remnants of a fossilized Bronze Age landscape.
The Bahla Fort Oman is a colossal fort from the 12th and 15th centuries situated west of Nizwa. It testifies to the power of Banu Nabhan tribe. Persians are believed to have built it before the arrival of Islam and the fort has undergone restoration several times. Constructed from brick and stone, it contained 15 entrances along its wall and 132 towers. The ruins now include its main walls, towers, and stone foundations. Archaeological evidence implies that the site was important in the ancient world. Its major highlight is the Tower of Wind known as Burj Al Reh. Conservation efforts are on to reduce the weakening of the fort.
The Land of Frankincense refers to four sites that were central to the incense trade in the medieval century. It includes the archaeological sites of Shisr, Khor Rori, Al Baleed, and the Frankincense Park of Wadi Dawkah. These historical sites existed from the Bronze Age to the 12th century. Camels transported frankincense to north through Shisr while Khor Rori and Al Baleed were trading ports. Wadi Dawkah is a natural park where frankincense trees spread across 5 sq km.
Have you ever visited such Unesco world heritage sites around the world? Do these heritage sites in Oman bring in memories of a similar site somewhere? We would love to know your impressions.
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