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Majan Civilisation - Oman Ancient Artefacts

Ancient artefacts found in Oman are linked to great Majan civilisation

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Archaeologists in Oman have uncovered an important Bronze and Iron Age site during preparations for construction of the Sinaw-Mahut Dual Road Project.  Initial results of the exploration have revealed numerous ancient items dating back 2,300 years and older. The items are linked to the great Majan civilisation, first mentioned in Sumerian cuneiform texts as an incredibly important source of copper and diorite for Mesopotamia.

A research team of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture began excavating the site at Bildat Al Ayoon in order to preserve around 250 graves ahead of construction work to build a road. Archaeologists found artefacts, including pottery and jewellery, dating back from the Iron Age to the middle of the Bronze Age of the Majan civilisation, otherwise known as the ‘Magan’ civilisation.

Sumerian tablets refer to a civilisation named "Magan" as a source of copper, and it is widely believed that Magan was located in present day Oman, and possibly part of Iran. Trading accounts from the Indus Valley civilization, the Sumerian and Assyrian civilizations all mention the seafaring port of Magan and attribute their economic success to trade with Magan, which was referred to in ancient texts as “The Mountain of Copper”.  Indeed evidence from excavations near Sohar in Oman shows that the copper mining and smelting industry was well developed by the year 2000BC, and today as many as 150 ancient copper sites have been found throughout Oman.

Various other commodities valued in Mesopotamia also came from Magan, including wood and stone. Its shipwrights were specifically mentioned in Sumerian inscriptions of 2050 BC.

The relative isolation of the Magan civilisation continued until the first millennium when archaeological sites excavated show that Oman came in contact with the Assyrian and Aryan empires. The Aryan civilization is believed to have renewed trade with Idea where Oman served as a link carrying wood, copper and spices.

Extensive investigations in the Oman peninsula have found many archaeological sites belonging to the Magan civilization. However, very little is still known about this important period in Oman’s history.

It is not yet know whether any copper items were found at the archaeological site at Bildat Al Ayoon, but it is hoped that the discovery will help to shed light on this little known civilisation that played a central role for Mesopotamia and in the history of Oman.

By April Holloway

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