Al Baleed Archaeological Site
The Land of Frankincense – located in the locality of Al Baleed in Salalah – is one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Oman and was once the centre of the ancient world’s thriving frankincense trade. Royal families from as far as China, Egypt and Rome sought the coveted frankincense resin, which was worth its weight in gold, as early as 3,000 BC. The precious crop was harvested in Oman and shipped around the ancient world. Frankincense was known for its healing and restorative properties, as well as being offered as tribute at the funerals of royal families and people of high social status.
“UNESCO chose the Al Baleed site, considered by archaeologists as the most important remnants of an Islamic ancient city on the Arabian Sea coast, as being part of the historic home of the frankincense tree the Sultanate of Oman is known for, especially since frankincense was the most important Omani export in ancient times,” said the Ministry of Tourism.
The Museum of the Land of Frankincense is located in the region of Al Baleed in Salalah. It is divided into two main halls: the Hall of History which branches into six sections, and the Marine Hall which is divided into seven sections. The Land of Frankincense Museum in Salalah borders the ruins of Al Baleed Archaeological Park and is dedicated to the trading history of this ancient port. Visitors can discover how trade with Frankincense and maritime strength ensured the region flourished in the 12th century.
According to UNESCO, “The frankincense trees of Wadi Dawkah and the remains of the caravan oasis of Shisr/Wubar and the affiliated ports of Khor Rori and Al-Baleed vividly illustrate the trade in frankincense that flourished in this region for many centuries, as one of the most important trading activities of the ancient and medieval world."
“The four components of the Land of Frankincense dramatically illustrate the trade in frankincense that flourished in this region for many centuries,” said the organisation. “They constitute outstanding testimony to the civilizations in south Arabia since the Neolithic era. The successive ports of Khor Rori (4th century BC to the 5th century AD) and Al Baleed (8th century to the 16th century AD) and an outpost close to the Great Desert Rub Al Khali, Shisr, about 170 km inland, represent in a unique way the distribution of frankincense which was produced in the wadis of the coastal hinterland.
“All three sites were exceptionally fortified. Wadi Dawka is an outstanding example of the growth of the frankincense tree (boswellia sacra) from which the resin was produced, collected and traded,” added UNESCO.
The property is protected by the Royal Decree No. 6/80 on the protection of the national heritage, and its buffer zone was given legal status by Royal Decree No. 16/2001, says UNESCO. The property is managed through a management plan. The sites are fenced and the buffer zones are marked. In Shisr, a small settlement of the Bedouins lies within the buffer zone (radius of 700 metres from the property centre). Also in Shisr the palm trees of the oasis, part of the buffer zone, will be replaced by young trees by the authority. The re-generation and maintenance of plantation schemes will be essential in the future.
source: Times of Oman
Credit: Oman Pocket Guide