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Al-Ayn, in the northwest of our mystery country, is one of several places to see the Bronze Age beehive tombs. Although they are frequently referred to as tombs, no human remains have been found, leaving the purpose of these monuments in question. Over 100 of these structures are scattered around 3 different sites within about a 30 minute drive, as well as the remains of houses and other evidence of human settlement. At al-Ayn, Jebel Misht makes a dramatic backdrop to 21 tombs.

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Oman’s Beehive Tombs

Beehive tombs at al-Ayn, Oman with Jebel Misht behind

Beehive tombs at al-Ayn, Oman with Jebel Misht behind

The so-called beehive tombs of Oman are a collection of circular Bronze Age monuments built 4,000-5,000 years ago in a northwestern region of the country once known as Magan. It was a significant population center, based largely on copper mining for trade with Mesopotamia. Despite a lack of human remains, the structures are most commonly referred to as tombs.

The tombs are found in three locations, which were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. The best known of the three sites is Bat, located about a 30-minute drive from the town of Ibri. Over 100 tombs, plus houses and other structures, all in varying degrees of ruin, are scattered over a large area. The quantity of remains is impressive, but it takes some imagination to visualize the thriving settlement that stood here 4,000 years ago. The natural setting more than makes up for the low visual appeal of the ruins.

About 2km from Bat, the site of al-Khutum contains more tombs and a tower.

Another 30 minutes or so from Bat is the striking site of al-Ayn, where twenty-one, well-preserved beehive tombs line the crest of a ridge, backed by the soaring wall of Jebel Misht.

We recommend visiting these sites with a licensed guide, as they are tricky to find and come with no signage.