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 Arab and European historical references indicate that it was rebuilt several times from the early 10th century CE until its decline around the middle 1200s CE.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.
Al Baleed Archæological site.
Here is a colour image of a Trilith group – unfortunately, taken in very harsh sunlight.
Here is a group of three Trilith, with the ‘tripod’ construction clearly seen.
Bronze Age Trilith – Dhofar.
This unusual row of stones is one of Oman’s more enigmatic archaeological finds: found in eastern Yemen & South West Oman, C.400 B.C.E – 300 C.E.
The stones are usually found in groups of 3 to 15 (although longer rows have been seen) about 2 or 3 foot high and standing on end, forming a tripod structure with sometimes a capstone. Placed along side & parallel with Wadis or tracks; mostly stood on bedrock.
They are not burial places because they seem to be always placed on a hard rocky surface and that is about all anyone can be certain of. The construction period has been reasonably well confirmed by Carbon-14 dating, from ash remains of wood fires that seem to have been used within the structures.
The fence has been placed for their protection; a lot of sites can get damaged through ignorance or just basic theft of the stone as building material.
P.S I can thank Freyja my daughter who noticed these while we were driving some way off on the main road.
Al-Baleed or Al Balid is the remains of an ancient Middle Age settlement which has been excavated (on going) & turned into a very successful Archæological Park.
Tombs: Qubur Juhhal – Al Ayn.
Just a quick image from my latest travels – the Archaeological site – Salut.
I have about 80 unprocessed images & 3 rolls of film, it will keep me out of mischief for a while.
Off on my travels again – this time in search of the early Bronze Age site of Salut, some 20 kilometres south of Bahla & Jabrin fort.
A place I have known about for several years, but never visited until now; glad I left it so late because there has been extensive archaeological research carried out recently.
The site has been put forward for inclusion on the UNESCO world heritage list of sites with major historical interest.
It has had extensive human settlement in this area since at least the end of the fourth millennium BC to the present day. Observable by the large concentration of archaeological evidence that can still be seen. There are indications of very large settlements from the Bronze Age (c.3000-1300BC) and following Iron Age (c.1300-300 BC) probably through to the Middle Ages, with farming still carried on in 2015.
Amazing what a little rain will do – actually I hear there was a lot while I was away.
An early morning visit; it is a few years since I was last here and I was wondering how an archaeological site had survived the coming of electricity poles.
More on that subject later.