Dibba, the town in the southeastern corner of Mussandam Governorate, is known for its prominence in the history for battles and international trade in the past, but now it has gained archaeological prominence providing evidence that the facts related to it are not folktales but real history.
One of the five wilayats of the Musandam Governorate, Dibba was already known as a place that had an extensive ancient settlement, in addition to being a prominent international market which was visited by merchants from India and China, as they sailed across the Arabian Sea. Musandam was also the place the Portuguese had found ideal for a base because of its strategic location due to the importance of the Strait of Hormuz.
The archaeological site ‘Seih al Deir’ located in Dibba was discovered during the excavation for the construction of facilities for the Dibba Sports Club.
According to Oman News Agency, the site includes several graves and the most prominent grave is a rectangular tomb with oval corners with a length of 14.75 metres and a width of 3.5 metres with a total area of about 49 metres. The report states that the tomb was built with stones brought from the surrounding mountains and the valley near the site.
Archaeologists have described the method of building these ancient tombs in relation to the designs that were known in the Umm al Nar period which dates between 2400 and 2700 BC.
Inside the grave human remains (188 skeletons) were found along with 2,000 artefacts of bronze and steatite such as daggers, axes, bracelets, arrowheads and medals. The axe continues till today in its importance as part of the heritage.
Born and raised in Dibba, Dr Faisal al Shehhi, Assistant Professor in Mass Communication Studies at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Suhar, says the name Dibba is ancient and deep-rooted and is even considered to be pre-Islamic.
“Geographically speaking the place is amazing in the sense there is a long range of mountains close to the coast so it has the sea and the mountains. We have been taught from childhood that our place is historical because there had been many battles that had taken place in the past and we have a famous graveyard that is known as the graveyard of war leaders and it is still there,” reflected Dr Al Shehhi.
The axe interestingly is still popular in Musandam and is considered as part of the culture and heritage as well as lifestyle.
“The axe is a prominent symbol for the Shehhi tribe. Just like the stick is important for others while they attend ceremonies such as weddings or a special social event. The Shehhi tribe residing in the Musandam Governorate carries the axe, which is a symbol of courage, bravery and history,” he noted.
Recollecting his conversations with his father, Dr Al Shehhi added, “I remember he used to tell me about large ships coming from India and Iran anchoring close to Dibba, where they would have goods to sell and people from Dibba would sell dates, other agricultural produce and other items produced here.”