Italian Archaeological expedition to the burials site of Daba (Sultanate of Oman)

Italian Archaeological expedition to the burials site of Daba (Sultanate of Oman)

Since 2013, the Italian archaeological mission has been involved in the excavation of the Daba funerary complex in the Musandam Peninsula (Oman), on the basis of a collaboration agreement with the Ministry of Culture of the Sultanate of Oman which has entrusted the direction of research to Dr Francesco Genchi.

The accidental discovery of the site was followed by the initial intervention of local archaeologists; the Italian mission started in April 2013. Three excavation campaigns were conducted with funding by the Omani Ministry. Since 2017 the mission has been part of the activities of the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’ and sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, while from 2018 it has received support from ISMEO – International Mediterranean and Oriental Studies Association.

The funerary complex of Daba is currently composed of two large collective tombs (LCG1 and LCG2), a Parthian grave and several ritual pits filled with objects made of bronze, stone and pottery (well preserved vases and weapons of high quality). Geophysical surveys have shown the presence of further large collective tombs. The two great funerary monuments were used over a period that stretched from the Late Bronze Age (1600- 1350 BC) to the Iron Age II/III (around 600 BC).

Archaeological evidence suggests that the entire funerary area may have been used as a monumental tribute to tribal alliances dating back to the end of the 2ndmillennium BC. The collective graves were investigated during five excavation campaigns (from 2013 to 2018). During the second campaign structures were unearthed that belonged to a second great tomb (LGC2), which (although not yet fully excavated) has yielded a large number of objects and depositional contexts that are mostly intact.

While LCG-1 (14 x 3.5 metres) has mainly provided quantitative data on objects and osteological finds (the remains of at least 188 individuals and almost 3600 valuable objects including bronze and soapstone containers, daggers, bracelets, arrowheads, inlaid shell medallions and 5000 beads made of different materials), LCG-2 (23 x 6 metres) has allowed the evaluation and interpretation of what appears to be a multifaceted funeral ritual.

At present LCG2 has yielded thousands of objects (more than 3000 of high quality), often in close association with human and animal remains, and several phases of use, restoration and structural modification– such as the addition of rooms externally or along the original perimeter – have been recognized.

The large size of these collective tombs, together with the numerous individuals and great quantity of archaeological finds they contained, underline the importance of Daba as a sacred area. Moreover, the absence of selection by gender or age of the individuals buried there, with regard to both primary and secondary depositions, shows the great aggregative function of the funerary structure.

Co-Directors: Francesco Genchi, Alfredo Coppa
Nation: Sultanato dell’Oman
Period: 2013 – in course
Mappa del nord-est della Penisola Arabica con la localizzazione di Daba e dei principali siti dell’Età del Ferro - Map of north-eastern Arabian Peninsula with location of Daba complex and main Iron Age sites.
Map of the northeastern Arabian Peninsula with location of Daba complex and main Iron Age sites.
Pianta generale dell’area di scavo - General plan of excavation area
General plan of excavation area.
Fotogrammetria della prima tomba collettiva LCG-1 – Photogrammetry of LCG-1
Photogrammetry of the first multiple burial,LCG-1.
Planimetria della prima tomba collettiva LCG-1 – Plan of LCG-1
Plan of the first multiple burial,LCG-1.
Fotogrammetria della seconda tomba collettiva LCG-2 ancora in corso di scavo  - Photogrammetry of LCG-2 ongoing of excavation
Photogrammetry of the second multiple burial,LCG-2, duringexcavation.
L’ingresso originario della camera funeraria principale – The original entrance of the main burial chamber
The original entrance tothe main burial chamber.
Un grafico che riassume le categorie di oggetti rappresentate all’interno di LCG-2 - The diagram of archaeological material quantification
Diagram of thecategories of finds from inside LCG-2.
Una caratteristica camera circolare all’interno della grande struttura con deposizione di venti individui – A typical circular chamber within the main structure filled with twenty burials
A typical circular chamber insidethe main structure containing twenty individuals.
Una tipica sepoltura primaria all’interno di una piccola camera delimitata da lastre - A common primary burial within a small chamber defined by slabs
A typicalprimary burial ina small chamber borderedby stone slabs.
Ricostruzione fotogrammetrica 3D della camera della tarda Età del Ferro rinvenuta lungo il muro perimetrale ovest – 3D reconstruction of Late Iron Age chamber identified on the west perimetral wall
3D reconstruction of Late Iron Age chamber identified nearthe west perimeterwall.
Un caratteristico esempio di agglomerati di sepolture secondarie accompagnate da oggetti di corredo – A common example of bone clusters connected to grave goods
A typicalcluster of reburied bones andgrave goods.
Un esemplare di pugnale in bronzo rinvenuto all’interno di LCG-1 decorato con rivetti nell’elsa – An example of bronze dagger recovered from LCG-1 decorated with rivets preserved in the grip
Bronze daggerfrom LCG-1 decorated with rivets preserved onthe grip.
Un esemplare di alabarda in bronzo dai depositi di LCG-1 – An example of bronze halberd recovered from LCG-1
Bronze halberd found inLCG-1.
Tipico bracciale in bronzo di grandi dimensioni decorato a tacche rinvenuto in una fossa -  Large and elaborately decorated bronze bangle recovered from a pit
Large,elaborately decorated bronze banglefound ina pit.
Un esemplare di vaso in bronzo con orlo ingrossato e versatoio – An example of bronze vase with thickened rim and pouring spout
Bronze vase with thickened rim and spout.
Giara di grandi dimensioni con decorazione dipinta in nero recante motivi geometrici – Large jar painted with geometric pattern
Large jarwith blackpainted geometrical pattern.
Un tipico esempio di vasetto con versatoio riferibile alla fase media dell’Età del Ferro - A typical Iron Age bridge spouted vessel
A typical middleIron Age bridge-spouted vessel.
Vaso a collo di medie dimensioni decorato con motivi geometrici dipinti – Necked jar painted with geometric pattern
Middle-sized necked jar with painted geometrical pattern.
Incensiere in terracotta decorato con motivi incisi – A terracotta incense burner decorated with carved motifs
Terracotta incense burner decorated with inscribed pattern.
Un tipico vaso in clorite decorato con motivi incisi – Softstone conical vase decorated with carved motifs
Conical chloritevase decorated with inscribed pattern.
Vaso in clorite con prese forate di sospensione – Softstone suspended vessel
Suspended chloritevessel.
Orecchino in oro realizzato mediante tecnica a granulazione – Granulated gold earring
Granulated gold earring.
Disco in conchiglia decorato con motivi geometrici incisi – Shell disc decorated with geometric inlaid motifs
Shell disc decorated with inscribed geometrical pattern.
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