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Rediscovering Adam’s antiquity and culture

The old and famous "neighbourhood" in the wilayat of Adam in Oman, which comprises houses that have remained intact despite the passage of time, are undergoing a comprehensive overhaul by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture.

Rediscovering Adam’s antiquity and culture
Adam is steeped in history as it used to be a junction of trade convoys in ancient
 times. Adam’s market was one of the most important visited by the Arabs
 of the Arabian peninsula [Credit: ONA]
The Ministry of Heritage and Culture aims to turn the neighbourhood into an open museum that shows the patterns of daily life, architectural styles, traditions and the related customs.

Adam is one of the wilayats of the governorate of Al Dakhiliyah and its main entrance to the south.
It is believed that Adam is derived from 'Adim' which means the cover of the surface of the Earth or the 'dirt'. There is another meaning for Adam, which means the fertile ground located in the middle of the desert that people call 'Al Sakbiya', referring to its fertility throughout the year. It is an open plain situated in the middle of the desert.

Adam is steeped in history as it used to be a junction of trade convoys in ancient times. Adam's market was one of the most important visited by the Arabs of the Arabian peninsula. Archaeological excavation works uncovered sites that belong to the Stone Age, consisting of circular stone tools in Al Hooshi area, which is one of the oldest archaeological sites in the wilayat.

Excavations have also uncovered coins found in Al Gharifa Mosque in Al Rogha neighbourhood, in addition to some stones with engravings of human figures in Saada area in a site where some temples were also discovered in the desert there.

The wilayat of Adam displays its magnificent heritage comprising ancient castles and towers. Notable among them are the Falaj Al Ain Castle, Falaj Al Malih Castle and the Adam Fort. Some of the castles have around 30 tall towers. There are a number of castles with differing hardness and patterns between the arcades and overlapping arches, dating back mostly to the past three centuries.

The wilayat of Adam is famous for its old neighbourhood. Perhaps, the most famous is the Al Busaid Jami Neighbourhood, which is considered the biggest and still retains its cultural identity and heritage. The house where Imam Ahmed bin Said Al Busaidi was born, is still in good condition and is one of the most prominent homes there.

The neighbourhood is located in the southwest of the wilayat. It is a model and an integral part of traditional Omani architecture that reflects one of the stages of evolution of neighbourhoods in the sultanate. Like other old neighbourhoods in different parts of the sultanate, Jami Al Busaid features the integration of its architectural formations and units, whether civilian, religious or defence.

There are almost 120 homes in this neighbourhood with 10 wells, in addition to six towers, and a fortified gate interrupting the neighbourhood wall and its adjoining homes that have given it additional protection.

The new features of the neighbourhood are gradually emerging to show us a different state ready to receive visitors coming to the wilayat.

There are other old neighbourhoods in the wilayat like Bani Sheiban. It contains 70 commercial style houses since it used to be the old traditional Souq of the wilayat. It also has three towers and three mosques.

Al Hawashim neighbourhood is semicircular in shape and still retains the distinctive architecture and shape. Al Rahba neighbourhood consists of a group of houses that represent the northern defensive wall to complement the main neighbourhoods in the wilayat.

Al Ain neighbourhood is rectangular in shape, surrounded by date palm farms and is built on a high hill that has given it additional protection.

Al Majabra neighbourhood has taken its name from the medical profession practiced by the families which inhabited the neighbourhood, namely osteopaths and includes 40 homes.

There are a number of mosques in Adam, such as the one in Jami Al Busaid neighbourhood. Sources indicate that it was built in 717 AH, and was restored by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture. It is located on the western side of the neighbourhood.

Among the famous mosques in the wilayat of Adam are the Al Sabarah, Al Lamja and Bani Rooha mosques which are built for prayers that take one's mind away from the everyday problems of life.

There are plenty of towers in the wilayat and up to about 30 towers still remain in mostly good condition, including the 22-metre tall Al Majabra Tower, which is the tallest in the wilayat and the 16- metre tall Al Rahba Tower.

Adam also has numerous natural tourist attractions. There are open desert areas, which constitute most of the areas of the wilayat, where one sees the beauty of skiing in the sand dunes. One can enjoy the generosity and hospitality of the Bedouins and learn about their customs and traditions.

Source: Times of Oman [September 21, 2014]

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