The beginning of the Iron Age, 3000 years ago, marked a neat transition with the former Bronze Age in South East Arabia, characterized also by a sharp increase in the number of settlements. The towers disappeared, a typical landmark of the former period, and mud-brick houses villages started to be built and populated. The site of Salut was, at this time, re-occupied in large scale.
Early Iron Age
There are two distinct architectural phases at Salut. The first is dated to the Early Iron Age (around 1300-650 BC) and the second to the Late Iron Age (around 650-300 BC). The two phases are distinguished by differences in the architectural plan. During the early phase of the settlement occupation, the so called “basement”, was erected.
The earliest building phase comprised a number of mud-brick terraces and rooms built around the highest point on the site. In the initial phase of construction the outer walls of the site were constructed from mud-brick upon stone foundations.
The most significant change in the Late Iron Age was the construction of the stone wall that still surrounds the site and gives it an impressive fortified appearance.
A still unanswered question is that about the site’s function, although it is likely that it had several: copper smelting/smiting, ritual and public activities. Many of the walls and floors of the earliest building show evidence of burning, probably a result of an accidental fire caused by the conduction of some specific activities at the site.
One possible activity performed in the so-called Burnt Building is small scale copper smelting/smiting. Copper was traded as more or less rough circular ingots, often obtained just by casting molten copper inside a hollow in the ground. A few such ingots were found at Salut, where a small scale copper working is suggested also by the presence of a small furnace and of some broken items stored for re-melting. Real bronze seems to be not so common, likely due to the difficulties in tin supplying.
Besides possible cultic rituals, other kinds of collective activities likely took place at Salut. On top of the site architectural remains were discovered which could suggest the presence of what can be tentatively reconstructed as a building including a pillared hall. Similar buildings, interpreted as meeting and administrative places, all characterized by a large pillared room were discovered at several coeval sites.