Archeological Sites


Al Balid City

The Most Important Ancient Port on the Arabian Sea (Part of the Frankincense Trail) history dates back to before 2000 BC. Some archaeological research confirms that the city's prosperity dates back to the Iron Age. Much of this city’s remains lie in Dhofar Governorate.

The city was a trade hub, being one of the largest ports on the Indian Ocean, making it a thriving commercial centre for the export of frankincense to China and Rome. The city’s location was first discovered in 1930. Currently, the office of His Majesty the Sultan's Adviser for Cultural Affairs is carrying out a comprehensive programme to develop the site, which is a collection of ruins covering a rectangular area of 64 hectares, surrounded by high walls to the east and north, and a small trench to the west. The wall has four gates.

The ancient city was divided into three main sections: commercial, residential and a section devoted to services. There were also a mosque and a fort on the west side. In 2000, Al Balid City was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.


Qalhat & Bibi Mariam

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.



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


Bat Tombs and Settlement

Bat 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.


Bayt Al Qefel (the lock house)

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.


Hasat Bin Salt

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.


Jabal Hareem Fossils

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.


Zakeet Tombs

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.


Shisr - Awbar

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.



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