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IMTO - KHOR RORI

The archaeological site of Sumhuram “Khor Rori”

The ancient city of Sumhuram, built in the area of Khor Rori, is the most important pre-Islamic settlement in the Dhofar region.
 
 In the 1950’s the city had been investigated by an American expedition (the American Foundation for the Study of the Man – AFSM) directed by W. Phillips and with the archaeologist F. Albright as field director.
 
Since 1996 the Italian Mission to Oman (IMTO), directed by prof. A. Avanzini, has been working in the area of Khor Rori.
 
 As attested by inscriptions found in the site, Sumhuram was an outpost of the kingdom of Hadramawt, founded for commercial and economic reasons far from the capital Shabwa, along the Omani coast.
 
While in a first time it was supposed that the city was founded in the 1st cent. AD, when the trade and the contacts with the Roman world flourished, today we are able to affirm that the city had a longer history. Comparisons with pottery assemblage from other sites (Raybun, Hadramawt) and C14 analysis, attested that the city already existed in the 4th cent. BC.
These new data changed the way of looking at the city: Sumhuram was not important just for the trade of frankincense during  the Roman period, but it was a wealthy settlement also in an earlier time. This importance could be explained considering the city as a crucial stopping place in the internal trade towards south-eastern Arabia and the northern coast of Oman, rich in copper.
 
The campaigns made from 2003 revealed that Sumhuram was developed on the surrounding territory, outside the city wall. A temple extra muros was built along the wadi Darbat, used in the first centuries of occupation of the site and after abandoned. Three structures, apparently connected with agricultural activities, were placed outside the city-wall, north-east from the city. Places connected with burial practise have been individuated in the natural outcrop in front of the city.
 

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