Today’s impromptu trip…… Halban.

Tombs at Halban: an impromptu trip that I took this morning (early 06:30 ish) well that’s early for me 🙂

 Halban is about 40 mins. drive from where I live, I was awake (don’t know why – especially on a day off ! ) so thought I would beat the heat of the day.

 Halban Tombs 2

Halban Tombs

Halban Tombs 3

Halban Tombs 4

Halban Tombs 6

Halban Tombs 7

Halban 2


A little about the tombs at Halban.

The small tombs (there are lots!) found in Oman are generally assumed to date from around the Hafit Period of (3200-2600 BC). They originally had a similar appearance to a beehive, enclosing a small chamber for burial.

Archaeologists believe that the larger tombs found at such sites as Halban, date from the Umm al Nar period in the Bronze age, circ;  2700-2000 BC.. The Umm  An-Nar Culture is one of the most important periods in neighbouring UAE, notably Bahrain.

See this link for more: 

From archaeological evidence it is suggested that trade in copper with Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley gave rise to the wealthy land known as Dilmun, thought to be in Bahrain. Obtaining copper from the Land of Magan, now largely identified with the ancient copper mining areas in Oman and the adjoining area of UAE. The presence of copper ore in the hills near Halban again points to the link with copper and an Umm Al Nar period.

During the early 1950s, Danish archaeologists excavating grave mounds in Bahrain, found 4,000-year-old settlements and temples thought to be Dilmun, known as the city of the gods in ancient Sumerian literature. Their 1959 discovery on the island of Umm an-Nar near Abu Dhabi of another, previously unknown culture contemporary with Dilmun was unexpected. At this site an outer wall enclosed circular graves, between 15 & 40 feet in diameter with a tower like appearance; in which as many as 25 to 30 people could be buried.

Encouraged by the discoveries at Dilmun and Umm an-Nar; Danish archaeologists excavated 200 single-chambered burial cairns near Jebel Hafit on the Oman-United Arab Emirates border. Here they discovered a culture earlier than both Dilmun and Umm an-Nar. Excavations yielded jars with geometric designs painted in black, white, and dark red, copper and bronze pins along with stone beads. The jars were the same type as used in southern Mesopotamia around 3000 B.C. One problem though; unfortunately there seems to be little trace of the ancient settlements that should accompany these tombs.

The Umm al-Nar tombs are circular and their outer walls were faced with well-shaped smooth stones in a spiral construction. Internally they were mostly divided into a number of chambers, these being used for collective burial. Probably by a family group or members of the same community; who would use them for several generations.  In some, archaeologists found the remains of more than 100 people buried in one tomb.

In Oman these tombs have only recently been ‘investigated’ by the outside world (1991 or there about) although when one asks the locals, they will tell you they have always been there and if lucky, will follow this up with “would you like to see some more”………

Obtained from the Web and various publications I have; therefore any errors in the above are down to me………

More links:

14 thoughts on “Today’s impromptu trip…… Halban.

  1. Thanks for a very interesting piece David,
    It’s curious as you say that, so far there’s no trace of other signs of habitation, to accompany these tombs. I know in my country, here in Ireland, we never find houses or homes from the neolithic or bronze age periods. It appears even when these peoples built really huge ceremonial structures in stone, (such as Newgrange, with its famous solstice alignment) they never lived in towns and cities, and indeed, even individual dwellings must have been built from simpler, more perishable material. So now, the large ceremonial structures, like portal and passage tombs, are all we have left. Could it be the same case in your region do you think? Maybe all the non-ceremonial structures, like houses, grain storage spaces and mills, are simply long gone.
    either way, than you for a very interesting piece. I like the look of the solitude of the desert by the way, (reckon it brings out the T.E. Lawrence in all of us)
    many thanks for following by the way, delighted to reciprocate.
    very best regards
    – Arran QH.

    1. Thanks Arran,
      The one thing I find interesting about this period is the similarity of structures built, no matter how many thousands of miles between each area.
      The other thing is that if wooden structures were used for accommodation while building the tombs (some very large and well made) then the post holes should be visible. Maybe just my limited knowledge of the subject, although it seems more is being found that gives a better understanding.
      The desert areas tended to be ignored by a lot of archaeologists until recently, but some of the finds in Saudi Arabia is giving a new prospective about that thinking.
      Along with the ability to search without putting boots on the ground until it is absolutely necessary.


  2. This is a very interesting post David. In my part of the world burial cairns and mounds were from a particular and quite short period of time around 1500 years ago, and to a large degree constrained to a quite small geographical area. The people buried in these locations lived in wooden long houses, at seasonally different locations, and there is little left of their settlements other than shell middens and sometimes a buried house floor deposit. Perhaps these one date to a time when people were more mobile and their dwellings less likely to leave obvious archaeological traces.

    1. I think you are right as there are many sites with no obvious human habitation attached, even flint tool manufacturing and later metal smelting sites seem totally isolated.
      There are signs of building in some areas that to the untrained eye (mine in most cases 🙂 ) just look like a pile of stones on the surface but, dig and ye shall find. What looks like a line of single stones turns out to be the top of walls two or three metres high. Just a matter of digging and digging……….
      Although some of the new satellite imaging being used in Egypt for example, has great potential (only dig where you are fairly sure there is something to find) no more exploratory trenches.
      Ho and we have our fair share of shell middens putting the occupation of some areas back before received wisdom says there should have been people here.


      1. Sounds like a great place to do this kind of thing. Around here LIDAR imaging is used a lot as it can strip away the obscuring vegetation and give very detailed 3D models of the earth’s surface. Seems that might not be necessary in Oman! Or most of it.
        Anywhere that there is a marine shoreline that is accessible to boats, there should be 10’s of thousands of years of occupation. Trouble is with sea level changes those shorelines can be deeply drowned on the ocean floor, or stranded miles inland.

        1. Satellite multi-spectral data captured seems to be the buzz-word at the moment although a form of LIDAR is gaining ground in Saudi.


    1. Thank you,
      there is another site that I need to re-visit when the weather gets a little cooler, there has been digging going on and a lot uncovered. Interested to see how it looks.
      About the same age as this site.


  3. Fascinating discovery. I imagine that quite a bit could be learned about the culture that was once there, just from the artifacts found at the burial sites.

    1. More is being found every year, although Oman and the whole area in general, is playing ‘catch-up’ before modernity destroys a lot of it.
      Fortunately; at the moment, a lot of the really interesting stuff is still in relatively out of the way places.


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