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.
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.
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.