Be an iconic adventure seeker of the lost past and stop by the ancient city of Sumhuram. If you love history, this can be your top travel destination to tap your Indiana Jones-style zeal for an adventure quest.
Sumhuram, also known as Khor Rori,is an ancient archaeological site near Salalah. It is now listed in the Unesco world heritage sites. It was a major port of Southern Arabia and was a key link in the global frankincense trade network.
Sumhuram was first discovered by James Theodore Bent in the late 19th century. Later excavations uncovered the ground plan of the settlement and confirmed the trade with the Ḥaḑramite homeland, India and the Mediterranean. Several bronze vessels, incense burners and the limestone basins are excavated from the ruins. Chisels, hooks, needles, razors, blades, clips, locks, lamps, mirrors, bracelets, necklaces, etc were also found. The city was small with 200 or 300 inhabitants but was well-organized. Some production areas such as a pottery kiln, kilns to produce plaster, and ovens to bake bread are detected. It included a city mint where metals were produced.
The Italian Mission to Oman of the University of Pisa, directed by Alessandra Avanzini, has been investigating the site for the last 20 years. Their new findings include a village of the Medieval Period. It shows the presence of humans from the Palaeolithic Period, ie, about 60,000 years ago. Evidences of Late Neolithic age have also been found. A large quantity of pottery from Italy shows exchanges with the Mediterranean cultures. Pottery, Indian objects, and Brahmi-Tamil inscriptions were also discovered. There is even a museum dedicated in Pattanam, India, to the Khor Rori artifacts and shows its widespread connectivity.
The fortified city is believed to be an outpost for the Kingdom of Hadhramaut in modern Yemen. It was founded by King Il’ad Yalut I in the first century BC. This is related to the rising sea trade during the period. The desire to control the valuable frankincense trade is said to spur the creation of this settlement.
The port was active from the 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD. The city continued to exist for almost 500 years, but was deserted in the 5th century AD. A sandbar formation across the mouth of Khor Rori seemed to close the creek to ship trade. The recent findings reveal that Sumhuram was the center of maritime network. It was a link between the East and the West with the rising trade and cultural route between distant lands. The city was planned well with private and public buildings along with agriculture lands and orchards.
And for those of you interested in a bit of fable, Sumhuram has also another story of fame and glory to tell. It is also connected to the Queen of Sheba of King Solomon's fame. Sumhuram is claimed to be one of the locations of Queen of Sheba’s Fort and was believed to be her summer home. Noted archaeologist Wendell Philips excavated it in 1952 and it is claimed to be the oldest palace in Oman.
After all it’s not the long years behind the structure but the memories you create there will stay with you. It is a must place to visit for the history buffs. Get in touch with a lost civilization and ponder on the vast ruins. Take in the spectacular view where the blue lagoon meets the green sea and head straight to the beach. Watch the flocks of camels and flamingos basking in the lagoon. Visit the Land of Frankincense Museum and glimpse the pre-historic artifacts.
The port has a long history of power and culture buried behind it. Why not go and unearth it? Are you a history enthusiast? Let us know what you think. Share this article on the ancient city of Sumhuram.
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