Rock Inscription from the Area of Ja’alanbani Bu Hasan, Sultanate of Oman

Nasser Said Al-Jahwari


This paper discusses a unique rock inscription found during the 2011 survey conducted by the author in the area of Ja’alan Bani Bu Hasan in the Southern Sharqiyah Province, Oman. This type of inscriptions is not recorded in the northern part of Oman, and is frequently found in the south. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, several amateurs and travelers have reported the discovery of many of these inscriptions in the Province of Dhofar. Several of these inscriptions have been found near tombs and triliths in Dhofar. This is also the case with the Ja’alan’s rock inscription which was found near one of the triliths recorded in the area of Saih al-Sa’ad. This type of inscription was not previously found by any traveler or researcher working in the northern and central parts of Oman. For example, in 1970s, the British expedition carried out an archaeological survey in the eastern region of Oman and documented a number of archaeological features, including a large number of prehistoric tombs and triliths, but did not find such an inscription. Hence, the discovery of Ja’alan rock inscription with its letters or symbols is the first of its kind in the eastern region of Oman. Although they have been frequently found, their symbols or characters have not yet been fully decoded. Therefore, the available information does not help understanding several related aspects including their content, meaning, purpose, as well as their dating, and who executed them; all of which remain unanswered. This paper attempts to present the Ja’alan inscription, and compare it with similar inscriptions from other areas, particularly Dhofar. This will be done in order to understand its content and dating, as well as the distribution of this type of inscriptions in Oman.


Sultanate of Oman; Ja’alan; Dhofar; Rock Inscription; Old Southern Inscriptions

Full Text:



الجهوري، ناصر سعيد، قيد التحكيم، الأحجار الثلاثية في منطقة جعلان بني بوحسن، المنطقة الشرقية من سلطنة عمان.

الجهوري، ناصر سعيد، 2011، العصر البرونزي في الجزء الغربي من إقليم جعلان، سلطنة عمان. أدماتو، العدد 24.

Al-Jahwari, N. S. 2013. The Early Bronze Age Funerary Archaeological Landscape of the Western Part of Ja'alan Region: results of three seasons of investigation. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 24(2).

Al-Shahri, A. A. M. 1991a. Grave-types and “Triliths” in Dhofar. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy,2(3).

Al-Shahri AAM. 1991b. Recent Epigraphic Discoveries in Dhofar. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 21.

Al-Shahri, A.A.M. & King, G.M.H. 1992. The Dhofar Epigraphic Project: A Description of the Inscriptions Recorded in 1991 and 1992. Unpublished Report.

Biagi, P. 1988. Surveys along the Oman Coast: Preliminary Report on the 1985-1988 Campaigns. East and West, 38(1-4 December 1988).

Biagi, P. 1994. A Radiocarbon Chronology for the Aceramic Shell-Middens of Coastal Oman. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 5(1).

Biagi, P. 2004. Surveys along the Oman Coast: A Review of the Prehistoric Sites Discovered Between Dibab and Qalhāt. Adumatu, 10.

Biagi, P., Jones, D. A. &Nisbet, R. 1989. A Preliminary Report on the Excavation of Structure 5 at Ra's Al-Junayz 1 (Sultanate of Oman). Rivista Di Archeologia, 13.

Bin ‘Aquil and McCorriston, J. 2009. Prehistoric small scale monument types in Hadramawt (Southern Arabia). Antiquity 83.

Charpentier, V. 1994. A Specialized Production at Regional Scale in Bronze Age Arabia: Shell Rings from Ra’s al-Junayz Area (Sultanate of Oman)'. South Asian Archaeology 1993, 1.

Charpentier, V., Berger, J. F., Crassard, R., Lacaze, M., &Davtian, G. 2012. Prehistory and palaeo-geography of the coastal fringes of the Wahiba Sands and Bar al-Hikman, Sultanate of Oman. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 42.‏

Cleuziou, S. & Tosi, M. 1985. The Joint Hadd Project: Summary Report on the First Season, December 1985. Unpublished Report.

Cleuziou, S. & Tosi, M. 1986/7. The Joint Hadd Project: Summary Report on the Second Season, November 1986- January 1987. Unpublished Report

Cleuziou, S. & Tosi, M. 1990. A Short Report on the Excavations Carried out at Ra’s Al-Junayz during the 5th Campaign of the French-Italian Team (December 14th 1989 to March 2nd 1990). Unpublished Report.

Cleuziou, S. & Tosi, M. 1994. The Joint Hadd Project: A Short Preliminary Report on the Work of the Seventh Field Season. Unpublished Report.

Cleuziou, S. & Tosi, M. 1996. A Short Preliminary Report on the 9th Excavation Campaign of the Joint Hadd Project (December 1995-February 1996). Unpublished Report.

Cleuziou, S. & Tosi, M. 1997. Evidence for the Use of Aromatics in the Early Bronze Age of Oman: Period III at RJ-2 (2300-2200 BC). In: A. Avanzini (ed.) ProfumiD’Arabia: Atti Del Convegno. SaggiDi StoriaAntica, 11: 57-81. L'Erma di Bretschneider: Italy.

Cleuziou, S. & Tosi, M. 1997/8. A Short Preliminary Report on the 11th Excavation Campaign of the Joint Hadd Project: December 1997– February 1998. Unpublished Report.

Cleuziou, S. & Tosi, M. 2000. Ra's al-Jinz and the Prehistoric Coastal Cultures of the Ja'alān. Journal of Oman Studies, 11.

Cleuziou, S. & Tosi, M. 2007.In the Shadow of the Ancestors: the Prehistoric Foundations of the Early Arabian Civilization in Oman. The Ministry of Heritage and Culture: Muscat, Oman.

Cleuziou, S., & Tosi, M. 1993. Black boats of Magan: Some thoughts on Bronze Age water transport in Oman and beyond from the impressed bitumen slabs of Ra's al-Junayz. In AnnalesAcademiaeScientiarumFennicae. Series B, 273: 745-761. Suomalainentiedeakatemia.‏

Cleuziou, S., Reade, J. & Tosi, M. 1987/8. The Joint Hadd Project Summary Report on the Third Season: October 1987- February 1988. Unpublished Report.

Cremaschi, M. &Negrino, F. 2002. The Frankincense Road of Sumhuram: Paleoenvironmental and Prehistorical Background. Pages 325–363 in Avanzini, A. (ed.), KhorRori Report 1 (University of Pisa, Edizioni Plus).

de Cardi, B. 1985. Further Archaeological Survey in Ras al-Khaimah, U.A.E., 1977. In: G. Pettincini (ed.) OriensAntiqvvs, 24(3-4).

de Cardi, B., Brian Doe, and S.P. Roskams 1977. Excavation and Survey in the Sharqiyah, Oman, 1976. The Journal of Oman Studies 3(1).

Doe, D. B. 1970. Socotra: An Archaeological Reconnaissance in 1967. Coconut Grove, Fla, Field Research Projects.

Doe, D. B. 1977. Gazetteer of Sites in Oman, 1976. Journal of Oman Studies, 3(1).

Doe, D. B. 1983. Monuments of South Arabia. The Falcon Press: Naples; The Oleander Press: Cambridge & New York.

Genchi, F. 2016. Ad Duqm Survey 2015: Relevance and Safeguarding of Archaeological Heritage. Unpublished Report submitted to the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Sultanate of Oman.

Giraud, J. 2009. The Evolution of Settlement Patterns in the Eastern Oman from the Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age (6000–2000 BC). C. R. Geoscience xxx: 1-22. Elsevier Masson SAS.

Harding, G. L. 1964. Archaeology in the Aden Protectorates. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office: London.

Harrower, M., Senn, M. &McCorriston, J. 2014. Tombs, Triliths and Oases: The Arabian Human Social Dynamics Project (AHSD) Archaeological Survey 2009-2010. Journal of Oman Studies, 18: 145-151. Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Sultanate of Oman.

Jagher, R. &Pumpin, C. 2010. A new approach to central Omani prehistory. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 40: 185-200. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Jagher, R., Pümpin, C., Wegmüller, F. &Winet, I. 2011. Central Oman Palaeoloithic Survey Report 2007 Season. Journal of Oman studies, 17.

Jagher, R., Pümpin, C., Winet, I., Bolliger, M., Wegmüller, F., Al-Sabri, B. & Al Maskeri, S. 2008. Central Oman Palaeolithic Survey. Final Report of Phase I. Seasons 2007 & 2008. Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Sultanate of Oman.

Jamme, A. 1963. Preliminary Report on Epigraphic Research in North-Western WadiHadramawt and at al- Abar'. Bulletinof the American Schools of Oriental Research, 72.

King, G.M.H. 1992. A Report on the Work of the Dhofar Epigraphic Project: 1412/1992. Unpublished Report.

Martin, L. 2002. Terrestrial Mammal Remains from Bronze Age HD1, Rās al Hadd, Oman'. Journal of Oman Studies, 12.

McCorriston, J. 2013. Pastoralism and Pilgrimage: Ibn Khaldun’s Bayt-State Model and the Rise of Arabian Kingdoms. Current Anthropology, Vol. 54(5).

McCorriston, J., Harrower, M., Steimer, T., Williams, K.D., Senn, M., Al Hādhari, M., Al Kathīrī, M., Al Kathīrī, A.A., Saliège, J.-F. & Everhart. J. 2014. Monuments and Landscape of Mobile Pastoralists in Dhofar: the Arabian Human Social Dynamics (AHSD) Project, 2009-2011. Journal of Oman Studies, 18.

McCorriston, J., Steimer-Herbet, T., Harrower, M., Williams, K., Saliège, J-F. & Bin ‘Aqil, A. 2011. Gazetteer of Small-Scale Monuments in Prehistoric Hadramawt, Yemen: a radiocarbon chronology from RASA-AHSD Project research 1996-2008. Arabian archaeology and epigraphy 22.

Méry, S. &Charpentier, V. 2002. Around Suwayh, Ja’alān: a Summery of Some Recent Discoveries from Coastal Shell-Middens of eastern Arabia'. Journal of Oman Studies, 12.

Méry, S. & Marquis, P. 1998. First Campaign of Excavation at KhorBani Bu Ali SWY-3, Sultanate of Oman'. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 28.

Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals 1991 Geological Map of Ja'alan (Sheet NF 40-8 E, Scale: 1:100,000), Muscat: Oman

Monchablon, C., Crassard, R., Munoz, O., Guy, H., Bruley-Chabot, G. &Cleuziou, S. 2003. Excavations at Ra'a al-Jinz RJ-1: Stratigraphy without Tells. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 33.

Mosseri-Marlio, C. 2002. Sea Turtles and Dolphins: Aspects of Marine Animal Exploitation from Bronze Age Rās al Hadd, Oman'. Journal of Oman Studies, 12.

Roger, J., Bechennec, F., Janjou, D., Le Metour, J., Wyns, R. &Beurrier, M. 1991. Geological Map of Ja'alan (Sheet NF 40-8 E, Scale: 1:100,000). Muscat, Oman: Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Salvatori, S. 2001. Excavations at the Funerary Structures HD10-3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2 and 2.1 at Ra’s Al-Hadd (Sultanate of Oman)'. Estratto da RivistadiArcheologia, 25. Giorgio BretschneiderEditore: Roma.

Schiettecatte, J. 2010. The Arabian Iron Age funerary stelae and the issue of cross-cultural contacts. In Death and burial in Arabia and beyond. British Archaeological Reports International Series 2107. Lloyd Weeks, ed. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Smith, G. H. (1977) 'New Prehistoric Sites in Oman'. In: Journal of Oman Studies, 3(1).

Thesiger, W. 1946. A New Journey in Southern Arabia. The Geographical Journal, 108, No. 4/6. Blackwell Publishing.

Thesiger, W. 1959. Arabian Sands. Longmans: London.

Thomas, B. 1929. Among Some Unknown Tribes of South Arabia. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 59. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.

Thomas, B. 1932. Arabia Felix: Across the Empty Quarter of Arabia. London: Cape.

Tosi, M. &Usai, D. (2003) 'Preliminary Report on the Excavations at WadiShab, Area 1'. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 14(1).

Usai, D. 2000. New Prehistoric Sites along the Omani Coast from Ra’s al-Hadd to Ra’s al-Jins'. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 11(1).

Usai, D. 2006. A Fourth-Millennium BC Oman Site and its Context: WadiShab-GAS 1'. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 36.

Van der Meulen, D. 1947. Aden to the Hadramawt. London: J. Murray.

Wilkinson, T.J. 2003. Archaeological landscapes of the Near East. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Williams, K.D., Steimer-Herbet, T., Gregoricka, L.A., Saliège J.-F. &McCorriston, J. 2014. Bioarchaeological Analyses of 3rdMillennium BC High CircularTower Tombs from the ArabianHuman Social Dynamics (AHSD) Project in Dhofar, Oman. Journal of Oman Studies, 18.

Wissmann, H. V., &Höfner, D. M. 1952. BeitragezurhistorischenGeographie des vorislamischenSudarabien. Abhandlungen der DeutschenAkademie der Wissenschaftenzu Mainz, 4.‏

Zarins, J. 2001. The land of Incense archaeological work in the Governate of Dhofar, Sultanate of Oman. Sultan Qaboos University publication.

Zarins, J. 2007. Dhofar: Land of Frankincense, in Cleuziou, S. and M. Tosi (eds) In the Shadow of the Ancestors: The Prehistoric Foundations of the Early Arabian Civilization of Oman, Muscat: Ministry of Heritage and Culture.

Zarins, J. 2010. Preliminary results of the Dhofar archaeological survey. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 29. Oxford: Archaeopress.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Nasser Said Al-Jahwari

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


This journal and its content is licensed under a Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.

Flag Counter