Wednesday 28 February 2024

Bronze Age metalworks found in northern Oman.

Archaeologists from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Warsaw have unearthed evidence of Bronze Age metalworking during exploratory work in the Qumayrah Valley of northern Oman. The team, who have been working in Oman since 2016, spent five weeks in the area in November and December 2024, uncovering about 50 structures associated with the Bronze Age Umm an-Nar and Wadi Suq cultures, as well as a smaller amount of Iron Age and later material, according to a press release issued on 12 February 2024.

The approximate location of the Qumayrah Valley in northern Oman. Google Maps.

The oldest structures found date to the Early Bronze Age Umm an-Nar Culture, which is thought to have lasted from about 2600 BC to about 2000 BC, and include round stone towers at the Ajran 1 and QB 6 localities, and a number of tower tombs at Ajran 4. This period appears to have seen a significant economic boom in the region, leading to a rise in population, and more archaeological remains being left behind than in subsequent periods.

Reconnaissance at site QB 6, where the remains of a round tower building made of white limestone were found. Agnieszka Szymczak/Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology.

This Umm an-Nar economic boom is thought to have been driven by long distance trade with India and Mesopotamia, with the main export from Oman being copper. Because of this, the Polish team have been searching for signs of copper working in the Qumayrah Valley. The discoveries made this season include a complex of sites around Wadi Salh, which include slag fields up to 220 m by 50 m and 25 cm to 50 cm thick, along with dozens of stone tools thought to have been used for crushing ore, and the remains of numerous furnaces. Several buildings thought to have been used as workshops have also been identified.

A slag field in Wadi Salh; flags mark stone tools for crushing ore. Agnieszka Szymczak/Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology.

Iron Age remains are much less common in the region, but the team did find a site, QA 20, where what appears to have been an Iron Age observation tower and accompanying settlement was located at the intersection of two valleys. The settlement, thought to have dated to between 1100 BC and 600 BC, comprised a dense arrangement of adjoining houses on either side of a narrow street. Thirty three rooms have been excavated so far at this site, covering an area of about 1400 m².

Representatives of the local community, teachers and students from schools in the village of Qumayrah with members of the Omani-Polish expedition at the QA 20 site. Olga Puszkarewicz/Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology.

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