Abandoned village of Tanuf – bombed during the Jebel Akhdar war of 1952 – 59.
A rock art file that I thought I had lost, have the B&W version here on my blog; also a B&W negative. I knew I had a colour version somewhere and here it is. 🙂 Also its location was not marked on my map, fortunately there was a map reference with the file.
There is a lot going on in this image, at least three different periods, the very early ones being very faint. The disc has been redone twice and as a pair each time, makes me think it could be a tribal sign like Wusum (used by Bedouin for camel identification) and not as thought previously, that it represented the sun.
There are two or even three very faint anthropomorphic images, along with one horse with rider and above it possibly a camel with rider.
This sort of choke point is quite common in most of the major wadis in Oman. Finding a way around or over can be a challenge, especially in the summer months when the rock is warm (hot) and covered in fine dust.
Accumulation of rock like this one is the result of the many Cyclones Oman has endured over the centuries; well trodden paths and even Falaj get blocked. There are several instances were a whole village has moved because of the loss of water when a Falaj gets blocked or damaged beyond repair.
The Al Hajar stretch for about 700 km across the north of the country and rise to over 3,000m (Jebel Shams – mountain of sun) from the coastal plain. Sediments at the core were mainly laid down during the Late Permian to Late Cretaceous in the Tethys ocean basin that had resulted from the break-up of Gondwana.
The Arabian Plate collided with and pushed against the Iranian Plate, resulting in mountains chiefly made of Cretaceous limestones and ophiolites.
Rock outcrops in the Al Hajar Mountains, the Huqf and Dhofar span about 825 million years and includes at least three periods when the country was covered by ice.
Oman, located at the south-east corner of the Arabian plate, is being pushed slowly northward, as the Red Sea grows wider. The Al Hajar Mountains and valleys of Musandam are dramatic reminders of this: Oman is fairly quiescent tectonically but the Musandan experiences occasional tremors as the Arabian Plate collides with the Eurasian Plate (I remember coming back from holiday & finding bathroom tiles all over the floor from one of these tremors).
During the Cretaceous Period Oman was located adjacent to a subduction zone and a portion of the upper mantle along with overlying seafloor volcanic rocks were thrust over the continental crust. This obducted sequence of ultramafic to mafic rocks is the Semail Ophiolite complex. The ophiolite is locally rich in copper and chromite ore.
The interior plains of Oman are of young sedimentary rocks, wadi gravels, dune sands and salt flats. Beneath them is a several kilometre thick stack of older sedimentary rocks that host the country’s hydrocarbon resources.
Links for most of this come from – Encyclopædia Britannica & Wikipedia.
Even though in most of these mountain villages, there is an abundance of water available; that is why they are situated where they are. None of it is piped into the house from source. It was a daily job getting water from aquifers with no certainty of mineral content (resulting in a lot of kidney stones) or cleanliness. The government now tests all water used for human consumption, so in these remoter areas it is delivered by water truck, hence the white tower containers on each roof.
Unfortunately a number of these negatives got irrecoverably damaged when Cyclone Gonu hit Oman in 2007.
I was working on Jebel Shams at the time, needed stuff from Muscat and had a rather traumatic encounter with a deluge of water hitting the road we were on. Eventually got back to my house, only to find rather a lot of water in the rooms; one of my files got wet with rain coming through the window edges – it was all my Khasab negatives. Managed to save a number by rewashing in Kodak Photoflo solution, but some had gone beyond even the wonders of scanning and fixing in Adobe Photoshop. I was a lot more fortunate than many people, I’m only complaining about negatives while others lost their lives, houses, belongings and some businesses never recovered.
Hay-ho such are the tribulations of life.
Not much information about these tombs, rather a lot of them with no real indication of which village they came from, even their age was in doubt; I got a lot of conflicting answers for that question.
Checking all my backup files after the external drives had been in storage for about five months and the long sea voyage.
I did bring one drive home in hand baggage which was fine, two others packed separately from my computer (PC) along with two 1TB hard drives which hold a complete ghost image of everything on both my laptop & PC. not taking any chances with lost boxes.
A lot easier with my negatives; a good thing because I have rather a lot and all filed (not very logically 😉 ) in ring binders & archival storage sheets.
Just thought I would write a few words in the way of news.
Pick up the keys for our new house in Driffield tomorrow – it has been a busy few months of travelling, paperwork & paying out a large chunk of money. But we got there in the end, although at times I never thought we would.
My stuff is now being shipped and our UK belongings will wing their way into the new house over the next month or so.
Just got to sell the old one 😉
It has been a while since I posted anything but I have been very busy looking for a new house and no real time for photography.
With luck we may have found exactly what we were looking for in Driffield Yorkshire. Much though I would have liked being in Malvern, the house prices were beyond what I was prepared to pay for the type of house we wanted. By chance we made a quick visit to Driffield and within a couple of hours had been given a viewing of a house that had a big garden, big rooms (space for a library & darkroom) a railway station within walking distance, that seems to have trains with good connections about every half hour, along with country walks close by.
So if all the legal things go through, I can get my stuff out of storage and start using my cameras again.
Cadbury multivallate hillfort on the summit of Cadbury Hill, a natural and commanding ridge separating the Gordano Valley from the Somerset Levels.
Early Cadbury: c.1000-300BC, occupation & building of the first ramparts.
Middle Cadbury: 300BC-AD40/50, addition of the outer ramparts.
Late Cadbury: AD40/50-400, a possible Roman attack, indication of Roman barracks.
I maybe looking for a new house, but cannot resist the odd photograph. 🙂
Ludlow is a market town in Shropshire and it’s Castle was probably founded around 1075, after the Norman conquest of England. Although it does not get a mention in the Domesday Book; a manuscript record of the “Great Survey” of a large part of England and parts of Wales, completed in 1086 by order of William the Conqueror.
Anyone who has read or knows ‘The Lion, The Which & The Wardrobe’ by C S Lewis, maybe interested in a little story about the Malvern gas lamps. Apparently, Lewis & some friends had been drinking in what is believed to have been the The Unicorn public house (Beer and all things drinkable, for those not familiar with the term) on the corner of Belle Vue Terrace Malvern. It had been snowing and on the journey home, Lewis is said to have been inspired by the sight of these lamps glowing in the falling snow, he is quoted as saying “that would make a very nice opening line to a book” The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe used that image as the children enter the realm of Narnia.
Both C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien regularly visited and walked in the Malvern Hills.
Many of the lamps have been restored and listed as historical items; so although at one point ‘Bean Counters’ decided they were costly & should be removed, common-sense prevailed and about 109 were saved.
The previous image was edited using my 17″ laptop which I don’t normally use for working on photographs. It does not calibrate very well, even with my Spyder 4 Pro & as for programmes…….
No Lightroom or CS6, but I do have the Fuji Raw file converter, Google Nik collection & a rather nice (free) programme called LightZone which works on B&W images. It will get me through the coming months until we have a new house and stuff comes out of storage. Rather strange not having my darkroom, large screen computer, scanner or printer but I’m sure I’ll get by. 😉
Just a quick hello from UK; back in England and coming to terms with the weather – yes it’s changeable, even though we are in the middle of July. I left Oman with temperatures in the 40’s c. here it’s 20c in York & 17.5c in Bristol where I am at present.
I have all my photography equipment apart from the Fuji X-pro1 in storage until we find a new (larger) house, merging two houses into one is not easy.
Little things like waiting for a petrol pump attendant who will fill the car & wash the windscreen while I sit in the car, no such luck and don’t mention getting your shopping loaded into bags at the Supermarket, they even charge for the bag!!!!
When on holiday these things don’t seem a bother as it’s soon back to friendly service with a smile in Oman & before that Cyprus, so you put up with it. What is it about UK shops, they take your money as if it’s their right and service is almost non-existent.
But the Guinness is good and there are some very nice friendly small specialist shops that pride themselves on their product, knowledge and service; so some things have not changed for the worst.
Sorry, rant over I promise 🙂
I now have an Internet link that is reliable, so should be able to catchup with everyone after navigating my way through W/P Reader, seeing what I have missed in the last few weeks. I may even get the chance for making some photographs, although I cannot decide whether I should open another blog or just add a link to this one – 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.
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.
The technical description from my geology book says:
Rillenkarren.- Are forms of dissolution on the surface of the rocks that consist of small channels separated by sharp crests configuring a network of tight more or less parallel gullies next to each other. Its Genesis is linked to the dissolution of the rock by the sheet of water that forms on it as a local run-off.
Al Baleed or Al Balid (from the Jibbali Arabic for ‘town’) is what is now known as the Al Baleed Achæological Park & Frankincense museum.
This extensive site described in great detail by Dr Paolo M. Costa, working with the Ministry of Heritage & Culture between 1976/86 can be found in The Journal of Oman Studies Vol:5. [The Study of the city of Zafar (al Balid) ] unfortunately I have not been able to find a link for this publication – Oman does not seem to make these publications easily available on the internet.
Al Baleed (Zafar, the city where the name Dhofar comes from) was an ancient port located near what is now Salalah. Recent excavation has shown that the site was inhabited from around the 5 millennia BCE. It continued its development in the late Iron Age through the Middle Ages until it fell into decline for a number of reasons; the reduced need for trade in Frankincense & then its horses. The silting-up of the harbour didn’t help: As the deep water receded, the big trading vessels were not able to dock. Arab and European historical references indicate that it was rebuilt several times from the early 10th century CE until its decline around the middle 1200s CE.
The city & its ‘Great’ mosque with over 140 pillars, minaret & associated outbuildings was still in use until the 17th centenary CE.
Marco Polo described the city as prosperous and one of the main ports on the Indian Ocean trade route. Although like a lot of other places (Masirah for instance) that he is supposed to have visited, it could be just word of mouth as the saying goes. Ibn Battuta visited this site in 1329 and commented on its beauty. In 1846, HJ Carter wrote about the city, pointing to its architecture and grand mosque, which he described as exceptional; he is now questioned for being rather ‘picturesque’ with his description of what was there when he visited. Reports from Miles (1880) and Bentes (1890) are also available describing their visit to Al Baleed.
Considering that the site was robed of stone for many years; it is only because of H.M the Sultan and his desire for the protection of Oman’s heritage, that there is anything left of the site. Fortunately, a lot of building structures and artefacts lay beneath mounds of rubble & sand; so with the on going archæology, more is being discovered every year.
All images have been colour shifted to try & enhance the art for viewing – several being very faint and smudged through weathering & age. As can be seen, these pictographs are a form of rock art that is totally different from that found in northern Oman. It portrays images of the camel interspersed with horses and their rider: there are clusters of dots & lines seen as well; the significance of these is not known, although it has been suggested by some, probably notational.
Domesticated by humans in southern Arabia, the Camel seems to have arrived around 3,000 BCE and following a 2010 discovery of artefacts dated between 6590 and 7250 BCE in south-western Saudi Arabia, which appeared to portray horses, they arrived much earlier.
The age of this art is not really known but probably first or second millennium BCE.
This is only a small representation of the art found in Dhofar: it would need more time than I had available for a comprehensive presentation.