The ancient port of Sumhuram is located near the modern city of Salalah in southern Oman. It was most active between the 4th century BC and the 4th century AD. It is built in the area of Khor Rori and is the most important pre-Islamic settlement in the Dhofar region of Oman. The port of Sumhuram provided access to trade on the Indian ocean and was important to the export of frankincense which came from the interior of Arabia.

South Arabian inscriptions were carved along the monumental gate to the city. Outside the city wall a small temple and other structures contemporary to the first phase of the city were excavated dating from 3rd century BC to 1st century AD. The great quantity of iron and bronze objects discovered, as well as the presence of a workshop for metals suggests that the city was also a very important center for internal trade towards south-eastern Arabia and the northern coast of Oman which was rich in copper.


Khor Rori is an early South Arabian archaeological site near Salalah in the Dhofar region of modern Oman. The small fortified town and port was founded as an outpost for the kingdom of Hadramawt in modern Yemen once the Nabataeans started to export frankinsnese from the Hymraite ports. The site shows signs of Hadrami settlement back to the third century CE and the settlement was probably abandoned in the seventh century.

Khor Rori is an early South Arabian archaeological site near Salalah in the Dhofar region of modern Oman. The small fortified town and port was founded as an outpost for the kingdom of Hadramawt in modern Yemen once the Nabataeans started to export frankinsnese from the Hymraite ports. The site shows signs of Hadrami settlement back to the third century CE and the settlement was probably abandoned in the seventh century.


An inscriptions at Khor Rori

An inscriptions at Khor Rori


Inscriptions at Khor Rori reports that the town, called “Sumhuram”, was founded on royal initiative and settled by Hadrami emigrants. Dhofar was the main source of frankincense in the ancient period, and it seems likely that the foundation of the settlement was in part motivated by a Hadrami wish to control the production of this valuable commodity. Most scholars identify Khor Rori with the frankincense exporting port of Moscha Limen mentioned in this region in the 1st century maritime guide Periplus Maris Erythraei.


The city is located near a natural break in the sea-wall where a wadi flows into the sea, providing a natural harbor as well as fresh water for the city

The city is located near a natural break in the sea-wall where a wadi flows into the sea, providing a natural harbor as well as fresh water for the city


Aproaching the city from the land side, you can clearly see the break in the sea wall, and the city mound on the right hand side of the photo above.

Aproaching the city from the land side, you can clearly see the break in the sea wall, and the city mound on the right hand side of the photo above.


The city mound

The city mound


A workman restores part of the city wall.

A workman restores part of the city wall.


The city is a maze of partially excavated rooms and pathways.

The city is a maze of partially excavated rooms and pathways.


Khor Rori / Sumhuram was first discovered by James Theodore Bent during his travels in the region in the late 19th century. The site has been excavated by the American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM) in the early 1950s and by the Italian Mission to Oman (IMTO) since 1994. The excavations have uncovered the ground plan of the settlement and has attested maritime contacts with the Hadrami homeland, India and the Mediterranean.


The city is a maze of partially excavated rooms and pathways.

The city is a maze of partially excavated rooms and pathways.


The author and his wife approach Khor Rori excavations from the main road. Note that there is a break in the sea wall where the ancient wadi flowed out to sea. The port is built back from the sea on the wadi, where a small fresh water lake has formed. Below you can see the break in the sea wall with the ruins of the city on the right. (Lighter in color).

The author and his wife approach Khor Rori excavations from the main road. Note that there is a break in the sea wall where the ancient wadi flowed out to sea. The port is built back from the sea on the wadi, where a small fresh water lake has formed. Below you can see the break in the sea wall with the ruins of the city on the right. (Lighter in color).




Page Discussion

Membership is required to comment. Membership is free of charge and available to everyone over the age of 16. Just click SignUp, or make a comment below. You will need a user name and a password. The system will automatically send a code to your email address. It should arrive in a few minutes. Enter the code, and you are finished.

Members who post adverts or use inappropriate language or make disrespectful comments will have their membership removed and be barred from the site. By becoming a member you agree to our Terms of Use and our Privacy, Cookies & Ad Policies. Remember that we will never, under any circumstances, sell or give your email address or private information to anyone unless required by law. Please keep your comments on topic. Thanks!