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Quaderni di Arabia Antica


The urban shrine in Quarter A at Sumhuram. Stratigraphy, Architecture, Material Culture

Alexia Pavan and Michele Degli Esposti, 2016, L'Erma di Bretschneider, ISBN 9788891311474

After 20 years of research and excavation conducted by the Italian Mission to Oman, the ancient South Arabian port of Sumhuram, located along the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in the Omani Governorate of Dhofar, is known in many of its aspects.

The impressive surrounding walls encircle a town that included market places, stores, dwelling quarters, monumental buildings and temples. This book presents the precise report of the excavation of a small shrine located in the centre of the town, inside the residential quarter, and discusses its diachronic evolution which suggests a phasing that mirrors all the different periods of the city life.

The artifacts discovered during the excavation are illustrated, both in relation with their stratigraphic context and in a separated catalogue. A fruitful interaction between the South Arabian tradition and an indigenous substratum is reflected in these items, as well as in several architectural features. Among them, a few incense burners deserve special mention by virtue of their complex decoration and their uniqueness.

The shrine, likely dedicated to the moon god Sn, was undoubtedly a relevant place for the community life throughout the more than seven hundred years of its existence, as witnessed by the great effort invested in its reconstruction. As such, the shrine was chosen as the subject of the first new publication about Sumhuram to cover the more recent, as yet unpublished, work of the Italian Mission to Oman.

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