discovering the heart of Oman

Salut Museum


The Land of Magan

In Mesopotamian cuneiform sources three important places frequently appear in connection: Dilmun (Bahrain islands), Magan (Oman) and Meluḫḫa (Indus valley). At that time Magan was the main supplier of copper – the primary element in the bronze metallurgy – in order to cast splendid royal statues and other furniture. Magan was also rich in ‘black stone’ (diorite and olivine-gabbro), a very hard stone used for prestigious sculptures. During the Bronze Age the ‘black Magan boats’, built with reeds and coated with bitumen, were the most used type of sailing ship around the Gulf region. 


Archaeological investigations revealed evidence of copper mining and smelting in many sites of the Oman peninsula datable to the 3rd millennium. People from Oman, from the 3rd millennium BC, were able to produce a large amount of copper which was exported abroad in the form of ingots.
In Mesopotamia copper from Magan was used for royal statues as well as this beautiful bronze sculpture.

Black stone from Magan

The Akkadian king Manishtusu (2269-2255 BC), son of Sargon the Great, refers about an expedition in the Land of Magan, where the "black stone" was quarried and then exported.
The Land of Magan appears in various inscriptions of Gudea carved in several statues. Gudea claimed that the "black stone" had been carried from the Land of Magan.
The statues made of diorite imported from Magan were so precious that they had been preserved for centuries in the Mesopotamian temples.
The "black stone" of Magan was employed not only for the statues of the kings, but also for other monuments. This obelisk in shape of a pyramid, belonging to the king Manishtusu, bears a legal inscription on its four sides.

Magan boats

From the Mesopotamian cuneiform texts Magan appears as a seafaring nation, and the ‘black boats’ from Magan are mentioned many times.
Archaeological and textual evidence attest that Magan boats were built with reeds and coated with bitumen. A cuneiform tablet, dated to the 21st century BC, provides a detailed list of items used for the construction of these ships.
The fame of Magan boats was so well known in the Mesopotamian culture that we find references to it also in the Sumerian legend of Gilgamesh and in the Ur-Nammu Code of laws.
The Magan boats were often represented in Mesopotamian seals (in mythological subjects) and in Indus valley seals as well.