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5000-year-old silver jewelry found in Oman

Muscat: An international team led by Prof Kimberly Williams (Temple University, Philadelphia USA) has presented an important discovery at the international conference of South Asian Archaeology and Art held in Barcelona (Spain).

The joint Omani-American team headed by Prof Nasser al Jahwari and Prof Khaled Douglas from Sultan Qaboos University and Prof Kimberly Williams from Temple University (USA), excavates an Early Bronze Age site at Dahwa, Wilayat of Saham of North Al Batinah Governorate with the support of the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, has recovered an exceptional collection of silver jewelry in a prehistoric grave of the third millennium BCE.

The collection included parts of necklaces such as beads, spacers, and several rings.

Interestingly, one of the silver rings had a stamp with the image of an Indian bison (Bos gaurus), a characteristic motif found in the Indus Valley (or Harappa) Culture that indicated the merchants were active in interregional trade. This image was relatively uncommon in the Indus Valley but quite frequent on Indus- related circular stone seals in Iran, Bahrain, Mesopotamia, and Oman. In fact, it was already found in Oman engraved on stamp seals made from local softstone at Salut and Al-Moyassar. However, this is the first time this image was found on a metal finger ring.

According to Prof Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, an expert on ancient technologies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA), “seal rings were considered typical of much later periods, but this discovery confirmed that Bronze Age peoples were much more ingenious and technically advanced than previously thought; they introduced at a very early stage administrative solutions that allowed economic growth in the later millennia."

What makes the discovery even more intriguing, is that the jewelry — sampled and analyzed using an innovative non-destructive technique by Dr Randall Law and Dr Sean Scott, material scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) — was found to have been made using silver that most likely came from Anatolia (Türkiye).

According to Dr Dennys Frenez, an Italian expert in ancient trade between the Indus Valley and Oman and a collaborator of the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, “the discovery in a tomb in Al Batinah of a silver ring likely made in Mesopotamia (Iraq) using silver from Anatolia (Türkiye) for an individual linked with Indus Civilization (Pakistan and Western India) foreign trade shows the complexity of commercial and cultural interactions in Eurasian prehistory, which can definitely be regarded as the prototype for modern global exchanges”.

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