Necropolis in Daba


The excavation of the necropolis at Daba will be the first focus of our imminent comeback in Oman; we are looking forward to introduce you to the wonders of this incredible place and archaeological context!

First off, a brief history of our investigations on the site:

Daba location

The construction works within the Sporting Club of Daba Al-Bayah, in the Musandam Peninsula part of the Sultanate of Oman, has revealed the presence of a large burial complex mainly composed of collective graves.

The site includes two Long Collective Graves (LCG-1 and LCG-2) and several ritual pits dating to the Early Iron Age and a later Parthian grave. Unlike other sites in the area, the collective graves at Daba are very well preserved and quite undisturbed. The overall archaeological evidence suggests that the whole area was a monumental tribute to tribal alliance dating from the end of 2nd to the end of 1st millennium BC.

Long Collective Grave LCG-1

Iron age long collective graves of Daba Al Bayah-LGC1. Photogrammetry Dr Francesco Genchi

The Ministry of Heritage and Culture of Oman, in collaboration with an international team directed by F. Genchi, has carried out several field-seasons aiming at the excavation and documentation of the first Long Collective Grave (LCG-1) (Genchi et al. 2013b). LCG-1 is a long chambered subterranean grave lined with limestone blocks. The burial monument has rectangular shape with a length of 14,75 m and a width of 3,50 m with a total area of 49 sq.m. The foundations and the lower part of the walls are made using large natural blocks with internal face almost at arranged on at least 6-7 rows. Above the walls, a corbelled vault covered the tomb with large slabs arranged partially overlapping toward the centre. The burial has two entrances made with rectangular limestone blocks, one at used as threshold and others vertical slightly slanting toward the centre.

The grave included the remains of hundreds of individuals of different sex and ages in secondary deposition, along with more than three thousand grave goods including softstone and pottery container, bronze tools and weapons, ornaments in semiprecious stones, silver and gold (Genchi et al., 2013a). These materials include elements referable to a period spanning from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age.

Further field-seasons led to the discovery of at least five ritual pits located around LCG-1, filled with hundreds of bronze, pottery and softstone containers, bronze daggers and arrowheads, and thousands of beads.

Daba exchange areas

Long Collective Grave LCG-2. Structure and phases

Iron age long collective graves of Daba Al Bayah-LGC2. Ph. Dr Francesco Genchi

About 5 meters south of LCG-1, a Second-Long Collective Grave (LCG-2) was located and excavated by a team directed by the author. Its excavation, initially supported by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture and now by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is still ongoing (Genchi et al. 2013, 2014).

LCG-2 is a large, rectangular shaped over ground tomb measuring 23 m in length and 4,5 m in width. The funerary chamber is semi-subterranean and the long axis was oriented north-south. The walls of the burial chamber were made with at least five-six stone courses rising up to approximately 1 m above ground.

A rectangular entrance was situated in the eastern perimeter wall and it measures 0.98 x 0.78 m for a depth of 0.6 m. It is lined with stone slabs from all sides and it was provided with a lintel and a doorstep. A short corridor made into the wall led to the burial chamber.

In this last structural phase, the perimeter walls lost their main function of delimitation and enclosure of the inner space of the chamber and they were also used to set burials, in particular primary depositions located into pits or niches obtained by disassembling parts of the walls. At least four sub-circular chambers have been set on the walls, some of them containing multiple individuals. Other chambers have been obtained by further subdividing the main elongated chamber.

The stratigraphic exploration of the grave and surrounding area has led to recognition of many phases of use of structure, some of them related to building reorganization or restoration of internal chamber area, others connected to the dismantlement of stone walls and the addition of small chambers. (Genchi et al., 2015).

Long Collective Grave LCG-2. Skeletal remains and funerary practices

Daba LCG-2 Chamber A, burial 38

Although not entirely explored, LCG-2 provided some interesting evidence related to the funerary practices and the offering rituals in the Daba sacred area. Several typologies of deposition of skeletal remains have been identified. They differ in their structural organization, quantity of bones re-deposed, number of individuals represented and to their association with grave goods and animal bones. Particular secondary depositions with the bones organized in a clear structured shape suggest the use of perishable containers to resettle the already skeletonized individuals inside or around the long collective grave.

Burials and grave goods identified within the main chamber of LCG-2 collective grave, Daba, 2015 season

Long Collective Grave LCG-2. Grave goods

At the present the grave produced a high quantity of grave goods including pottery containers, softstone and metal vessels, bronze weapons and bowls, elements of jewellery in metal (bronze, silver and gold), shell and stone buttons and beads of various types. This assemblage includes elements of different dates, from the Iron Age II (1000 – 800 BC) until the Late Iron Age – PIR A-B phases (around 300 – 100 BC) and testifies to a long period of use.

The excavation of the necropolis at Daba will be the first focus of our imminent comeback in Oman; we are looking forward to introduce you to the wonders of this incredible place and archaeological context!

First off, a brief history of our investigations on the site:


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