Iron Age soft-stone vessels discovered in Sultanate

Oman Wednesday 18/January/2017 20:51 PM
By: Times News Service
Iron Age soft-stone vessels discovered in Sultanate

Muscat: Soft-stone vessels dating to the time of Iron Age (1300–300 BC) were discovered at a mountain village, Aqir al Shamoos, in the wilayat of Yanqul, the Ministry of Heritage has said.
Speaking to the Times of Oman, Sultan Saif Al Bakri, Assistant Director General of Archaeology and Museums, Ministry of Heritage and Culture, said several pieces of unfinished pots, vessels and other items were discovered from the mountain village in A’Dhahirah Governorate.
“We discovered these objects from a quarry site in the mountain village,” he added.
Soft-stone is made up of chlorite and steatite minerals and comes from igneous rocks like gabbro and harzburgite.
Soft-stone is similar to soapstone, which also is found in Oman. “As these stones have a low index of hardness, they can be curved and shaped into various types of vessels that can hold both liquids and solids,” researchers say.
The discoveries of ancient soft-stone (chlorite) vessels are prominent feature of ancient culture throughout south-east Arabia and the Gulf. “In this small and secluded mountain village, a range of soft-stone vessels that were well known during the south-east Arabian Iron Age were produced on a scale far beyond what was needed for local consumption. So we can easily say that these items were clearly part of a larger inter-regional trade network which was so far not known to us,” they said.
Researchers say soft-stone was an important mineral resource at the time. “In Oman, there are geological contexts where raw soft-stone would be available, but we did not know where vessels were being produced,” they said.