SALALAH: Wabar Archaeological Site in the Governorate of Dhofar is one of the important heritage sites in view of the civilisational, human, cultural and historical components of the site.
The site was listed on Unesco’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage list in 2000 in four locations in the Governorate of Dhofar, under the name of Frankincense Land Sites, with Al Baleed Archaeological Park, Samahram Archaeological Park and Frankincense Sanctuary in Wadi Dokka.
During the period 1992-1995, the Sultanate, in cooperation with the University of South Missouri, explored this historic site on top of a limestone hill.
Although archaeologists discovered small archaeological sites scattered in the area dating back to the Stone Age (5000-4000 BC), settlement events in the region was there during the Iron Age (325 BC-625 AD), where some pottery and frankincense tools were found in the discovered castle. They belong to the first century BC to the middle of the Islamic era.
The office of His Majesty the Sultan’s Adviser for Cultural Affairs is conducting, within the framework of cultural cooperation with the academic and specialised scientific institutions and centres, including the University of Pisa, Italy, in the surveys, excavation, restoration and archaeological preservation according to the standards adopted by Unesco.
Wabar Archaeological Site contains sites dating to the Neolithic and the Iron Age. Wabar was a point of control in freshwater sources in the south of the Empty Quarter and an active commercial centre for the collection and operation of commercial caravans across the Arabian Peninsula.
Many archaeological discoveries were found in Wabar, dating back to different periods of time, the most important of which are chess pieces, pottery and stone vessels, glassware, stone lamps, incense burners, tools, flint tools, wooden plates, arrowheads and iron weights.
The landmarks of the discovered castle show the existence of places to manage the site and stores while the towers were used for housing.
Wabar area attracted the attention of historians and travellers. Bertram Thomas, the traveller, describes it in his famous journey in 1930 through the desert of the Empty Quarter as an ancient city rich in treasures, referring to the palm gardens and its red citadel and its waters.
The region was also mentioned in the writings of Arab historians, such as Al Tabari, Al Thalabi and Al Hamdani, who spoke about the wealth of this region and the flourishing of frankincense and incense.
Ahmed bin Amer al Obeid, Assistant Director of Frankincense Land Sites Department said: “As a result of the Sultanate’s interest in cultural and Omani heritage, the Office of His Majesty the Sultan’s Adviser for Cultural Affairs has opened the information centre at Wabar Archaeological Site, which contains presentations hall with three equipment that contain 16 metres length and 4 metres width screen, along with an outdoor shade and a general information about Wabar Archaeological Site.”
He added that the centre contains a variety of facilities and services for visitors, where the presentations in the hall tells the story of the place and its historical and archaeological dimensions, as well as presenting some scenes of the Blessed Renaissance led by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
The Frankincense Land Sites got the second place at the world level as the best practices in the cultural heritage management in 2010 from Unesco. The World Heritage Committee, at its 39th meeting in 2015, praised the Sultanate’s efforts in the management of cultural heritage represented in the Frankincense Land Sites.
The archaeological parks are centres for the transfer of knowledge and cultural information and provide an enjoyable and educational experience for visitors and tourists to learn about the Omani cultural and civilisational heritage in its time periods and its multiple corners.
They also share the local community in its various activities as these sites represent a witness to the civilisation that took place in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula since ancient times, which established economic, cultural and social ties through frankincense trade in the ancient world.
It is worth mentioning that the Office of His Majesty the Sultan’s Adviser for Cultural Affairs is developing the Frankincense Land Sites, registered in the World Heritage List and providing it with service and aesthetic facilities in order to promote cultural and archaeological tourism in the Governorate of Dhofar. — ONA