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New excavations at Samahram reveal evidence of human presence 60,000 years ago


Results of new excavations at World Heritage site of Khor Rori also popular as Samahram in Dhofar have revealed startling new evidence that human presence on the site dates back to the Palaeolithic Period, from a time some 60,000 years ago.

New excavations at Samahram reveal evidence of human presence 60,000 years ago

The findings also show that Samahram was at the core of maritime/commercial network, acting as a bridge between the East and the West on the rising trade and cultural route between faraway lands even before the first century AD.

The findings were announced at a media briefing at the office of Advisor to His Majesty the Sultan for Cultural Affairs recently by Professor Alessandra Avanzini, head of the Italian Mission to Oman (IMTO), which has been carrying out research in Salut in Bahla and Samahram for last many years.

“The IMTO has been working at the port of Samahram and in the surrounding area for over 20 years. The long history of the port, the urban layout, the life of its inhabitants are much clearer today. The port was active from the 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD and the date of its foundation is a fundamental historical datum for the history of trade by sea from the Mediterranean Sea to India,” Professor Alessandra said.

She said that the region surrounding Samahram bears testimony to an ancient history.

“Only few days ago, our archaeological campaign ended on the eastern promontory facing Samahram (Inqitat). Its results were spectacular. We had excavated a village of the Medieval Period some years ago, but after our last two campaigns now we know that the human presence on the Inqitat dates back to a very ancient period in the Palaeolithic Period (60,000 years ago).”

Also some evidence of Late Neolithic (about 6,000 years ago) has come to light which is a new evidence for the coastal archaeology of Dhofar, she added.

She said that the excavations of Italian Mission proved that Samahram’s foundation dates to the 3rd century BC, and collocates the port of Samahram in the period when the commercial network between the Mediterranean Sea and India was defined.

“For several years it has been accepted that only during the Roman Empire (1st century AD) did ships dare to face the open sea from Arabia to India, pushed forward by the monsoon. Today, however, it is clear that a few centuries earlier there was already a communication network going from Berenike in Egypt to Samahram until Pattanam and Arikamedu in India.

“Samahram was at the core of this commercial network, the actual bridge between the East and the West on the rising trade and cultural route between faraway lands. The large quantity of amphorae produced in Italy and found in Samahram shows the long-lasting contacts with Mediterranean cultures.

“The strongest links since the foundation of Samahram were with India, with the findings of pottery, Indian objects, and Brahmi-Tamil inscriptions at the site.”

According the findings, the city was small (less than 10,000sq m, with 200/300 inhabitants) but very well-organised and lively.

“There were public toilets in the area of the temple. This may not seem important at all, but it actually indicates the good quality of life of inhabitants in Samahram. Some production areas were found in the city, a pottery kiln (the first intact kiln found in Arabia), kilns to produce plaster, ovens to bake bread.

“Close to the market area, where there was also the city mint, a large area for the production of metals was found. Over this year's campaign two furnaces were discovered; they were not only used for creating small metal objects, but rather for proper metalworking.”

She said that Samahram’s inhabitants were not just merchants but also fishermen, as witnessed by the large quantity of shells and small fish bones found in their houses. Their diet consisted mainly of seafood.

Source: Muscat Daily [June 08, 2017]
TANN

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