From a series of images I made back in 2012 – where has the time gone !
Sorting & checking backup files before I pack my dark-room & computer plus printer for its return to the UK. It’s been a great adventure, even if work got in the way sometimes.
I should not complain because it was through work that I did my first trip into the desert. Someone told me about an airstrip abandoned just after WWII, where Kittyhawk engines could still be found on the shore at the end of what was left of the runway. The Kittyhawk was famous for its ‘Shark mouth’ on the engine air intake: made famous by No. 112 Squadron of the Royal Air Force who first painted this on their aircraft during the North Africa campaign in 1941. They copied the idea from Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110’s which had been painted with similar markings.
Given a military ‘Ragtop’ Land rover & basic directions, with instructions that I could get fuel from any military base I passed (free) and not to get lost because it would be a long walk; off I went. Directions back then were rudimentary and consisted of things like “follow the sand track until you see a pole with a tin can on it” or “at the hill with 3 old towers, turn right”…… and so it went. I say this to people now and they stare at me in disbelieve, but anyone who had been here in the early days will confirm my comments on this. The only black-top roads were around Muscat.
I was away two days and although I got rather lost a couple of times, I did find it. Unfortunately the only engines were rusty and not really identifiable as coming from an aircraft. But I was hooked and eventually got my own Series 200 Discovery, two spare tires, tool kit, air-jack and a proper tent with lots of old Ordinance Survey maps. It has been non-stop ever since.
Still a couple of weeks left and I’m now in the ‘Where do I put everything & how have I acquired so much stuff !! stage‘ most of it being books & camera equipment that cannot be easily replaced, so must be shipped back.
I have still got lots of negatives that need scanning, so am not about to close this blog, but there will not be much more than the odd image until I am settled back in UK.
I started this blog on the 21st May 2010 with this image:
Tomb Umm an-Nar period at Shir/Jaylah in the eastern Hajjar
Here we are 18th June 2017 and 2159 images later, more comments & likes than I ever expected, which made it all worthwhile and has been much appreciated: but enough is enough & time I put my feet up with a good book & the odd glass or two of Laphroaig. Well that’s the plan but, we shall see 😎
It may look nice but the water might contain the Schistosomiasis parasitic worm; giving a disease commonly known as bilharzia. The way to avoid this nasty little critter is by not going into the water with bare feet, swimming, washing & certainly not drinking it. I will add here that due to the work of the Ministry of Health its prevalence in the only risk area here in Oman, Dhofar; now ≤ 1% according to the latest reports I can find, but better safe than sorry.
A site on the coast near Mirbat Dhofar.
It has always been assumed that Sumhuram was founded in the 1st century CE, for the trade of frankincense between the Mediterranean Sea and India. The latest discoveries by archæologists from the Italian University of Pisa using pottery assemblage & C14 dating, put its foundation back to the 4th century BCE; it looks like it was an important stopping place on the trade route between south-eastern Arabia and the northern coast of Oman.
Made from the hill that excavation of the archæology site of Sumhuram is being carried out – first discovered by the Yorkshire born explorer James Theodore Bent when he visited the area between 1894 & 1895.
For his travels in the area, see the red line near Mirbat on the above map.
Gathering sea salt.
These were made near Shannah (Ferry port for Masirah) actually just a sleepy little place with a few buildings serving the ferry: although it has grown in size over the last year or so & soon may even have a coffee shop & what purports to be a hotel !
The pink tinge seen is from Halobacteria they are a rather interesting form of Archaea so are not actually bacteria and very dependant on salt, freshwater would kill them instantly. Confusing ! hence the links which give a better description than I ever could. Because even belonging to the Archaea family, they don’t follow the rules and are a branch with behavioural characteristics all of their own.
Ho and the reason I got these images is because I made a quick road trip to Masirah (work) so was lucky enough to catch this salt flat at its best. I have only once seen the whole area pink, in all the years I have made the trip (no camera – typical) but at least I got the salt this time.
A 500ft high Travertine Curtain blocking the exit from Wadi Darbat. It should really be referred to as Tufa, a precipitate of water containing dissolved carbonate minerals. As the water evaporates it deposits the carbonates that form this spectacular cliff face. During the monsoon period, this can quite often be hidden behind a deluge of water.
From my book ‘Plants of Dhofar’ this is Adenium obecium or more commonly known as Desert Rose.
A plant that was treated with fear and a lot of respect in days gone bye: Snakes were believed to get their poison from it and getting close would result in painful eye inflammation if care was not taken. The sap from the bark was used for medicinal purposes as a topical salve for inflammation of joints or limb paralysis. It is poisonous if eaten by animals, so the sap could be used as a fish or arrow poison.
The person collecting this bark should carry something iron and pray out loud while approaching the plant, strip the bark as quickly as possible then depart without looking back; never return to the same area until a reasonable period of time has passed.
The bark was pounded then put in warm water to soak, a small piece of iron included in the mixture made it more powerful and stopped the ‘evil eye’ of malcontents or evil spirits interfering with it.
These are examples of a traditional method of sewn-boat construction (no nails) which is no longer carried out in Dhofar: the last person with this skill, died in the 1990’s, although a few still live in the Musandam. (Seminar of Arabian Studies 40)
Archæological evidence from the al-Balid site, of timbers re-used as building materials when boats were no longer sea worthy, indicate that this method of construction in Dhofar is very old.
All the materials come from the Coconut palm – wood, cordage & wadding, with a covering derived from fish oil. The tools used being saw, adze, chisel & hammer, along with a good eye for a straight line & curves – undoubtedly very accomplished carpenters.
If you like minimalist music then listen to this by Simeon ten Holt. who was a Dutch contemporary classical composer.
You need 1 hour 11 mins & 47 sec. I suggest a good bottle of wine and a quiet time without distraction: enjoy !