The Oasis Towns

We have named the earliest known agricultural settlements in the Hajar region the Hajar Oasis Towns. Each of these comprises an area of c. 300 hectares demarcated by monumental circular structures laid out in a four-point diamond formation, and each has an extensive cemetery of so-called beehive tombs.

At Bisya, we have two such settlements. The earlier (c. late 4th-mid 3rd millenium B.C.), situated in the northeastern quadrant of the site, is contemporary with groups of Hafit tombs that testify to the presence of Mesopotamian visitors. Its successor (c. late 3rd-early 2nd millennium B.C.), situated on the Sallut plain, which comprises the western half of the site, co-existed with the tombs and buildings of trading middlemen (called Umm an-Nar and Wadi Suq) and maintained strong contacts with the Indus civilization 


The third identified oasis settlement belongs to the so-called Iron Age (the metal objects of which are overwhelmingly – if not exclusively – made of copper alloy and bronze), while burials - described locally as “Arab, but not Muslim” - a house containing Sassanian sherds and folkloric tales of the Arab conquest of Oman hint at events preceding the coming of Islam. Hisn Sallut, on the Sallut plain, was apparently occupied in the early and mid Islamic periods, while Bisya Town is first attested in the 10th century A.D. around the time when the Sallut plain was abandoned for a long period of time. Oasis settlements of the 18th -early 20th centuries A.D. are well represented, while modern development brings the story up to date.