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.
The problem with checking files after all my stuff was delivered from Oman is finding images that I had forgotten about.
I had a habit of using my Digital camera for colour, then moving the lens to a film camera for B&W. As long as I did not disturb the tripod, I was able to get exactly the same image on film. A laborious task you may think, but if someone saw me change cameras (especially when it was the D800 to Nikon F2SB) it always ended in a conversation about how old the camera was. Gosh you still use film, I remember my Father or my Mother had a film camera. You must visit my village and take coffee & dates, I will show you some good places for photographs. That statement was gold dust ! I have lost count of the times I had been shown a place I didn’t know existed.
The one thing I take away from Oman is the hospitality given to visitors/strangers: I miss the welcoming face combined with “can I help you?” or “please come and have coffee” we don’t have that here.
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.
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.
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.