Among all the attributes that make Oman a truly special country in the Middle East, there’s one aspect that’s often overlooked: its importance in the history of the formation of what we know as the lands of Arabia.
The undulating terrain, friendly people, and its strategic location to the Eastern hemisphere have all made a contribution.
And not many know that the Sultanate has played an integral part in several historical events, which are still commemorated around the country.
Take a tour of these lands with us this week, as we head back in time to uncover some of the settlements that have left lasting impressions on the country we call home.
With tombs dating back to the third millennium BC, the now-deserted area of Wadi al Ayn was known to have housed residents from the Bat settlement.
What is truly mystifying is that the tombs – of which there are 21 – are lined up in a straight line and can be found on top of a high rocky cliff.
The limestone construction has stood the test of time, and each tomb measures in at 5 metres across – a truly remarkable feat given how old they are.
These tombs themselves haven’t been disturbed, and locals say that the spirits of the dead watch over the lands surrounding the area.
This is also probably why not many people visit. No one wants to stumble into 5,000-year-old spirits, do they?
Don’t head into this city expecting to wander around shopping malls.
The Al Balid City, in the Governorate of Dhofar, is one of the first locations in the Middle East to have adapted to the Iron Age, 4,000 years ago.
This made it a notorious port that drew pirates and looters as it grew to prominence in the region. This city was also part of the Frankincense Trail and spans more than 64-hectares today.
The ruins can be witnessed by passers-by although all the iron utensils and other goods have been shipped off to museums around the country.
Who would have thought that Oman would share its history with ancient India and the Harappan Civilisation (also known as the Indus Valley Civilisation)?
Not only does this change the way we think about the relations between the two countries but also – after the discovery of pottery fragments, stone stoves, tools, necklaces and jewellery dating back to 5,000 year ago – we also know that Oman was an active port during the time, acting as a mediator between India and the Western world.
Arguably, one of Oman’s best-kept secrets, Hasat Bin Salt features inscriptions and writings on rocks that date back more than 5,000 years.
It classifies itself as prehistoric art although many people decipher the inscriptions differently depending on the area.
The rock is reminiscent of the Rosetta Stone that can be found in Egypt.
Visiting the area is as simple as taking a 200km-long drive to Al Hamra in the Governorate of Al Dakhiliyah.
Just wrapping your head around the sheer age of the murals will take some getting used to.
Would you believe us if we told you that there could be dinosaur bones buried under your home in Muscat?
Probably not. But, bear in mind that Muscat – Al Khoud to be specific – has provided paleontologists with several remains of the reptiles that once trudged across the lands.
In 2015, researchers found some hadrosaurian “duck-billed” dinosaur fossils in Al Khoud. These reptiles were known to have lived in the region some 70 million years ago, along with vertebrates.