5,000-year-old silver ring found in Oman gives peek into ancient culture, experts say

Photo from Oman's Ministry of Heritage and Tourism

A distinctive piece of silver jewelry found among the ruins of a prehistoric site has given archaeologists a glimpse into ancient Middle Eastern cultures.

A joint team of American and Omani archaeologists unearthed a significant archaeological site in the northern Al Batinah Governorate, according to a Monday, Nov. 7 news release from Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Tourism.

The site at Dahwa dates back at least 5,000 years to the early Bronze Age, Professor Nasser al-Jahuri, the archaeologist who first discovered the site, said in the release. The oldest permanent settlement in the region, the site was established by a community known as the Umm al-Nar culture, he said.

Excavations of the Dahwa site revealed the ruins of multiple stone buildings including warehouses, administrative buildings, ritual buildings and an industrial building for processing copper ore, the ministry said. Each building was the first of its kind in Oman.

One building in particular, however, stood out from the rest: a tomb.

The tomb, excavated by Professor Kimberly Williams from Temple University in Philadelphia, contained skeletal remains, imported and local pottery, and jewelry, Williams said in the release. Her team discovered silver beads from a necklace and rings.

One silver ring had a distinctive seal engraved on it, Williams said, showing a bison. The symbol belonged to the Harappan cultures of Indus Valley, an ancient civilization located hundreds of miles away in modern-day Pakistan and India.

Analyzing the ring closer, Dr. Dennis Frienz found that four ancient cultures were likely linked to it: silver from Turkey, a design from Pakistan and India, a silversmith in Iraq and a burial in Oman, the release said. The economic and cultural relationships between these ancient peoples echoes today’s modern global exchange, he said.

The silver ring was likely used as a seal and is one of the oldest of its kind, Professor Jonathan Mark Kinnware said in the release. Similar rings have been found from later time periods, but the age of this ring indicates Bronze Age people were more intelligent and technologically advanced than experts thought, he said.

The site at Dahwa is one of five ancient Umm al-Nar settlements discovered by al-Jahuri and his team of archaeologists, the release said. Umm al-Nar means “Mother of Fire,” the ministry said in a Facebook post. The name comes from an island of the same name off the coast of the United Arab Emirates where remnants of this ancient people were first rediscovered, Abu Dhabi Culture reported.

Dahwa is about 120 miles northwest of Muscat, the capital city of Oman.

Google Translate was used to translate the news release from Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Tourism.

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