New data from the renewed excavation at Salūt: the Iron Age settlement (Qaryat Salūt)
Keywords:Iron Age, Oman, settlement, south-east Arabia, proto-urbanization
The Iron Age in south-east Arabia has mostly been investigated by research projects that focus on sites located in the United Arab Emirates. Sites such as al-Rumaylah, Muwaylih, and Tall Abraq have provided the basis for a wider regional chronological framework, as well as a deeper understanding of the dynamics that have paved the way for some of the major changes occurring during the first millennium (e.g. aflaj irrigation). In this respect, the Iron Age archaeological evidence from Oman has been less studied. Recent excavations carried out by the Italian Mission to Oman at the site of Salūt (near Bisyā in central Oman), however, are bringing substantial archaeological evidence to light; they promise to give a fundamental contribution to issues which, until now, have been relying on a very misbalanced data set from a geographical point of view. Specifically, the recent excavation of 'the lower settlement' (Qaryat Salūt) has revealed the presence of a significantly larger inhabited area than what was previously thought. If analysed together with the very high ₁₄C dates from the upper, fortified area of the site (Ḥişn Salūt), this evidence may suggest the presence of a large settlement in central Oman by the end of the second millennium characterized by an unmistakably 'classic' Iron Age material culture.
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