Czech-led archaeological team discovers “mini-Stonehenge” in Oman

Mysterious ritual sites, ancient burial tombs, and rock carvings in an unknown script. These are some of the exciting discoveries made by an international expedition in Oman led by Czech archaeologists, which has found monuments and tools dating back thousands of years.

Photo: A. Danielisová,  ARÚ Praha / projekt ARDUQ

It is still not clear who built the over-2,000-year-old ritual sites targeted by the expedition or what kind of rituals they were used for. Roman Garba, one of the Czech archaeologists leading the team, explains what the mysterious monuments look like.

“You can see a row of standing stones, which form a sort of pyramid. These monuments are called trilithons or triliths. The stones are about 50 to 80 centimetres tall and are standing on platforms, which have square boulders placed near them. Then there is a parallel row of large hearths.”

Photo: R. Garba,  ARÚ Praha / projekt ARDUQ

Roman Garba has already found over 1,000 of these structures with the help of satellite images, which enabled him to search a much larger area than just the excavation site, which is located in central Oman.

“They are found from eastern Yemen stretching along the entire coast of Oman. In total, it is a roughly 1,800-kilometre-long strip where you can find this kind of miniature Stonehenge.”

Photo: A. Danielisová,  ARÚ Praha / projekt ARDUQ

In the locality of Nafun, likewise in central Oman, archaeologists have also uncovered a unique Neolithic tomb from the period 5000 to 4600 BC, which hid the skeletal remains of dozens of people. Nearby they discovered rocks with engravings that could be up to 7,000 years old.

“The rocks are covered in more than 500 images of camels, horses, and donkeys – this year we also found turtles. In addition to the images, there are also over 200 inscriptions in a South Arabic script that has not yet been deciphered.”

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Archaeologists in the south of the country have also discovered stone tools, which could help reveal how the first humans migrated out of Africa. Among other things, the discoveries should help the archaeologists reconstruct the climate and history of the largest continuous sand desert in the world. Recent research has shown that there used to be wetlands in what is desert nowadays, allowing animals and people to live there in the past.

Photo: A. Beshkani,  ARÚ Praha / projekt ARDUQ

“There are stone tools, for example fist wedges, which could be anywhere between 300,000 to 1.5 million years old. They are evidence of the first migration out of Africa and around the world by the ancestors of modern humans.”

The team of 21 archaeologists and geologists from ten countries participated in the excavation in Oman under the leadership of the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The research project is planning to return to the site in spring next year.

Photo: A. Beshkani,  ARÚ Praha / projekt ARDUQ
Author: Anna Fodor
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