UNESCO sites of Bat, Al Ayn and Al Khutm

In north-western Oman are the ancient tombs and monuments associated with the UNESCO sites of Bat, Al Ayn and Al Khutm. UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites describes Bat as ‘the most complete and best-known site of the 3rd millennium BC’.

UNESCO - Bat Tomb - Oman
UNESCO – Bat Tomb – Oman

The sites were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on 9th December 1988 AD.

UNESCO - Bat Qasr Al Rojoom - Oman
UNESCO – Bat Qasr Al Rojoom – Oman

The buildings associated with Bat & Al Khutm were constructed during a period of developing commerce, whose routes stretched from the mountains of northern Oman southeast across the Sea of Oman to the Indus valley and north into Mesopotamia. Qasr Al Rojoom is an impressive niched structure constructed from monolithic blocks of stone. Within the walls of Qasr A’Rojoom are thirteen small chambers and at the tower’s centre a well.

UNESCO - Al Khutm tower - Oman UNESCO sites of Bat, Al Ayn and Al Khutm
UNESCO – Al Khutm tower – Oman

The chambers may have been filled to provide a solid platform for structures above for they are too small for habitation and the only access is from the top. Samples from the remains of fires hearths at Qasr Al Rojoom have been subject to Carbon 14 analysis showing a date of circa 2570 BC, and results from other material associated with the tower show dates of 2455, 2400, 1920 and 1610 BC, a range of almost a thousand years.

UNESCO - Al Ayn Tombs - Oman
UNESCO – Al Ayn Tombs – Oman

Cylinder seals found in one tomb at Bat provide a physical link between the site and Mesopotamia. One of the seals is almost certainly local with a depiction of an Arabian Oryx, while the other ceramic seal is probably a Mesopotamian import with a scene of a male figure before an offering table.

UNESCO - Al Ayn Tombs - Oman
UNESCO – Al Ayn Tombs – Oman

The most visible and numerous remains associated with the UNESCO citation are tombs. These from the 3rd Millennium BC (2,700-2,000BC), and 4th/3rd Millennium BC (3100 – 2700 BC). Built with stone and often situated in prominent locations such as the crest of a hill, the tombs were clearly of importance within the society that created them and were built to impress, and certainly intended to endure.

Bat, Al Ayn and Al Khutm are included in my update to the Bradt Guide to Oman (Kindle & Paperback guide) – and my coffee table book Walking Through History – all available on Amazon below.

UNESCO - Al Ayn Tombs - Oman
UNESCO – Al Ayn Tombs – Oman

The tower tombs of Al Ayn sit on the crest of the small hill and are a row of twenty-one tombs. Constructed from local chert, these tombs are up to four metres in height with a small entrance looking out towards the southwest. They are dated to the3rd millennium BC and the row gives the impression of community and solidarity. Each tomb was used over a period of many decades for the burial of dozens of individuals.

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman – edition 4