Archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn

Archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn

The protohistoric site of Bat lies near a palm grove in the interior of the Sultanate of Oman. Together with the neighbouring sites, it forms the most complete collection of settlements and necropolises from the 3rd millennium B.C. in the world.

Sites archéologiques de Bat, Al-Khutm et Al-Ayn

Le site protohistorique de Bat, au voisinage d'une palmeraie de l'intérieur du sultanat d'Oman, constitue avec ses sites annexes l'ensemble le plus complet de zones d'habitat et de nécropoles du IIIe millénaire av. J.-C.

المواقع التاريخية في بات والخطم والعين

يشكّل موقع بات الذي يعود إلى عصور ما قبل الكتابة والمجاور لبستان النخل داخل سلطنة عمان، مع المواقع المرتبطة به، المجموعة الأكثر كمالاً في مناطق السكن والمقابر الكبيرة في الألفية الثالثة ق.م.

source: UNESCO/ERI

巴特•库特姆和艾因考古遗址

巴特是一个史前遗址,位于阿曼苏丹国内的一片棕树林附近。它和周围的遗址一起共同组成了公元前3000年时最完整的村落和公共墓地遗迹。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Археологические памятники Бат, Эль-Хутм и Эль-Айн

Доисторические памятники Бата расположены рядом с пальмовой рощей во внутренней части султаната Оман. Вместе с близко расположенными памятниками они образуют наиболее целостный, из всех существующих в мире, комплекс поселений и некрополей 3-го тысячелетия до н.э.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Sitios arqueológicos de Bat, Al Khutm y Al Ayn

Cercano a un palmeral situado en el interior del sultanato de Omán, el sitio protohistórico de Bat y los sitios arqueológicos vecinos constituyen el conjunto más completo del mundo de asentamientos humanos y necrópolis del tercer milenio antes de nuestra era.

source: UNESCO/ERI

バット、アル-フトゥム、アル-アインの古代遺跡群

source: NFUAJ

Archeologische steden Bat, Al-Khutm en Al-Ayn

De protohistorische site Bat ligt in de buurt van een palmentuin in het binnenland van het Sultanaat van Oman. Samen met de naburige plaatsen vormt de plek de meest complete verzameling nederzettingen en begraafplaatsen ter wereld uit het 3e millennium voor Christus. De necropolis van Bat bevindt zich op een begrensde en coherente plek en toont karakteristieke en unieke eigenschappen van de evolutie van begrafenispraktijken tijdens de eerste bronstijd op het schiereiland van Oman. Er zijn twee archeologische vindplaatsen: de toren van Al-Khutm, 2 kilometer ten westen van Bat en de groep graftombes van Qubur Juhhal in Al-Ayn, 22 kilometer ten zuidoosten van Bat.

Source: unesco.nl

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Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The protohistoric archaeological complex of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn represents one of the most complete and well preserved ensembles of settlements and necropolises from the 3rd millennium BCE worldwide. The core site is a part of the modern village of Bat, in the Wadi Sharsah approximately 24 kilometres east of the city of Ibri, in the Al-Dhahira Governorate of north-western Oman. Further extensions of the site of Bat are represented by the monumental tower at al-Khutm and by the necropolis at al-Ayn. Together, monumental towers, rural settlements, irrigation systems for agriculture, and necropolises embedded in a fossilized Bronze Age landscape, form a unique example of cultural relics in an exceptional state of preservation.

Seven monumental stone towers have been discovered at Bat and one is located in al-Khutm, 2 km west of Bat. The towers feature a circular outer wall about 20-25 m in diameter, and two rows of parallel compartments on either side of a central well.  The earliest known tower at Bat is the mud-brick Hafit-period structure underneath the Early Umm an-Nar stone tower at Matariya. The latest known tower is probably Kasr al-Rojoom, which can be ceramically dated to the Late Umm an-Nar period (ca. 2200-2000).  All of the stone-built towers show dressed blocks of local limestone laid carefully with simple mud mortar.  While conclusive evidence of their function is still missing, they seem to be platforms on which superstructures (now missing) were built – either houses, or temples, or something else entirely.

The vast necropolis at Bat includes different clusters of monumental tombs that can be divided into two distinct groups. The first group is Hafit-period “beehive” tombs located on the top of the rocky slopes surrounding Bat, while the second group extends over a river terrace and includes more than a hundred dry-stone cairn tombs. Another important group of beehive tombs is located at Qubur Juhhal at al-Ayn, 22 km east-southeast of Bat. Most of these tombs are small, single-chambered, round tombs with dry masonry walls dating to the beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE. Others are more elaborate, bigger, multi-chambered tombs from the second half of the 3rdrd millennium BCE.

As in many other ancient civilizations, monuments in ancient Oman were usually built with regularly cut stones. Unique of Bat and al-Ayn are the remains the ancient quarries from which the building materials were mined, and the many workshops that attest to the complete operational procedure, from the quarries, to the stone-masonry, to the buildings construction techniques. The continuous and systematic survey activities constantly increase the types and number of monuments and sites to be documented and protected, which include villages and multiple towers, quarries associated with the Bronze Age stone-masonry workshops, Bronze Age necropolises, an Iron Age fort, Iron Age tombs, and two Neolithic flint mines connected with workshop areas for stone tool-making.

Criterion (iii): The area encompassing the settlements, the necropolises and the workshop areas of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn is the most complete and best known archaeological complex in Eastern Arabia for the 3rd millennium BCE.  Cuneiform texts of ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq), dating to the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, tell us that the country of Magan (Oman) was at the time the principal extraction centre of copper, which was exported overseas to Mesopotamia to the northwest, and possibly to the Indus Valley in the east. Archaeological evidence for the appearance of a more hierarchical and structured social organization is attested at Bat in both the settlements, where circular monumental structures contrast with rectangular houses, and the necropolises, where the arrangement of funerary space increased in complexity and the grave goods testify to higher living standards and social changes mainly due to the introduction of a long-distance trade economy.

Criterion (v): In a restricted, coherent space, the necropolis of Bat bears characteristic and unique witness to the evolution of funeral practices during the Early Bronze Age in the peninsula of Oman.

Integrity

The archaeological sites of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn encompass the most unique ensemble of 4000-5000 year-old burial monuments, towers, and remains of settlement in the Arabian Peninsula, representing an extraordinary example of the unique response of the ancient people of Oman to the pressures of an increasing population and to the input from contacts with other civilizations.

The actions of time, erosion and weathering processes, has slightly damaged some structures, but in general, the sites at Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn are very well preserved and they continue to express their exceptional cultural value and incredible monumentality.

Authenticity

Bat and its surroundings represent a mosaic of intact, authentic monuments of great antiquity, represented not only by villages and funerary buildings, but also by the many monumental towers and irrigation dams. For centuries, the tombs were used and reused, thus preserving their original function and meaning.

Protection and management requirements

The archaeological complex of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn are protected by the law for National Heritage Protection of the Sultanate of Oman (1980), and they are studied and preserved under the control of the Ministry of Heritage & Culture and its Department of Excavations and Archaeological Studies (DEAS). The Ministry of Heritage & Culture is presently developing a new “Management Plan” and a new “Memorandum of Understanding”, focusing on the following three points:

(I) to protect the site from destruction by regulating access to and development of specific parts of the site; (II) to promote understanding of the meaning of each site and monument through scientific study of archaeological remains and the contemporary landscape; and (III) to promote the dissemination of these studies through the development of an interpretive programme oriented for local and international tourism, including the creation of one or more interpretation centre at site.

To answer these goals, the following elements are under way or planned: Since 2004 the Ministry of Heritage & Culture there has started a comprehensive international project in close collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Museum (Philadelphia, USA), the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo, Japan), the German Mining Museum (Bochum, Germany), and the University of Tübingen (Tübingen, Germany), for the documentation, the study and the conservation of the archaeological complex of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn. Research have been concentrated on tombs (German Mining Museum and University of Tübingen), monumental towers (University of Pennsylvania Museum), local settlement patterns (University of Pennsylvania Museum and University of Tübingen), and quarries (German Mining Museum). In 2009, the Department of Explorations & Archaeological Studies of the Ministry of Heritage & Culture excavated the monumental tower at al-Khutm.

The continuous collaboration and interaction between all teams involved in the study of the archaeological complex of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn, under the constant supervision of the Ministry of Heritage & Culture, has resulted in the creation of a more detailed typology for the tombs and the monumental towers. Moreover, this research strategy has led to an increasing understanding of the social-cultural and environmental contexts that eventually resulted in the foundation and the development of such a complex mosaic of villages, necropolises and hydraulic structures still visible at Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn.  In light of recent discoveries at al-Ayn, it might be worth considering an enlargement of the boundaries of the property for the re-inscription of Bat, Khutm, and al Ayn to include also the row of tombs locally known as Qubur al-Jehhal, situated near the modern village of al-Ayn.

Plans are being developed to begin the restoration of the best preserved monumental tower, the so-called Kasr al-Rojoom.

A local inspector has been entrusted by the Ministry of Heritage & Culture to monitor the construction and the development of modern infrastructures and any potentially destructive access to the sites.

The main cemetery site was already partly fenced off from vehicular traffic, but the construction of a complete fence began in 2009.

The area surrounding the sites will be tested by means of non-invasive geophysics techniques (e.g. magnetometry and ground penetrating radar) to find an appropriate place for building a visitors centre, a museum, the car park, and all the facilities requested to enhance the public fruition of the sites.

Long Description

The zone encompassing the settlement and necropolises of Bat is the most complete and best-known site of the 3rd millennium BC. In a restricted, coherent space, the necropolis of Bat bears characteristic and unique witness to the evolution of funeral practices during the first Bronze Age in the Oman peninsula.

Historical sources recuount that the country of Magan was the principal extraction centre for copper, which was exported even to far-away Mesopotamia, as early as about 3000 BC. The appearance of a more strictly hierarchical social organization (as attested to both in the settlements, where circular defensive structures contrast with rectangular houses, and in the necropolises, where the arrangement of funerary space is more complex) goes hand in hand with higher living standards and social changes linked to a trade economy.

The protohistoric site extends north of the village and palm grove of Bat, when excavation began in 1972; it includes a settlement and a necropolis from the 3rd millennium BC. In the settlement zone, north of the confluence of a small waterway and Wadi al Hijr, there are five stone 'towers', structures that are very representative of the first Bronze Age in the Oman peninsula. One of the towers has been entirely excavated and it has been determined that it was built between 2595 BC and 2465 BC. At the level of the substructures, the plan of the tower features a series of exterior surface projections and two rows of parallel rooms on either side of a large platform in masonry with a well in the centre.

From the tower, which serves as the site's reference point, can be distinguished immediately to the east on the slope a series of rectangular houses with central courts and, to the north, a vast necropolis that can be divided into two distinct groups. The first group is located at the top of the rocky slope. Its drystone tombs (some of which date from the 4th millennium, although in some cases they may have subsequently been modified) are scattered along the path from Bat to Al Wahrah.

The much more densely concentrated second group extends over rice terraces south-east of the wadi and includes more than 100 drystone 'beehive' tombs, which tend to be organized according to an overall plan. The most ancient ones are to the north. They have only one entrance and one funerary chamber and were a collective burial place for a small number of dead. Towards the south, the sepulchres become more monumental. They have two entrances which open on to two and sometimes four funerary chambers and were intended for larger numbers of dead.

The settlement and necropolis zones of Bat form a coherent and representative group with two neighbouring contemporary archaeological sites: the tower of Al-Khutm, 2 km west of Bat, and the group of beehive tombs of Qubur Juhhal at Al-Ayn, 22 km east-south-east of Bat. The 21 tombs from the 3rd millennium, aligned on a rocky crest that stands out in the superb mountainous landscape of Jebel Misht to the north, are in a remarkable state of preservation. They have not been excavated and constitute an obviously interesting archaeological reserve.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC