discovering the heart of Oman

Salut Museum


Arts and crafts

A wide range of arts and crafts were practiced in the Iron Age. Pottery was most likely produced near the site, though some vessels might equally have been imported. The pottery was clearly intended for a wide variety of purposes: domestic, ritual and connected with industrial activities.
Evidence of metalworking (copper ingots and slags) occurs in the site as well, and bronze objects include both utilitarian and ritual objects.
Soft-stone was also widely used in the Iron Age for the manufacture of vessels. Lastly, stone seals, either stamps or cylinders, are testified at Salut.

Early Iron Age pottery

Jars with globular body and a characteristic “bridged-spout” like this one discovered at Salut are one of the most typical shapes of Early Iron Age pottery in southeastern Arabia (around 1300-650 BC).
Another “key-fossil” for the Early Iron Age are small, simple or carinated cups, often decorated with red or back painted motifs. The most common features among the latter are wavy lines, hanging squares, vertical lines, sun/stars-like elements, the so-called “running dogs”, etc.
Moreover, one of the most widely attested shapes at Salut, and very common on almost all southeast Arabia Iron Age, is that of hemispherical or truncated conical bowls equipped with a long horizontal handle, often decorated with an incised herring-bone pattern.


Late Iron Age pottery

Around 650 BC pottery assemblage shows evident changes. New shapes recalling Achaemenid prototypes appear like the “tulip bowls” shown in gallery. Moreover, a new style of burnishing becomes more common, while earlier types also continue to be produced. This change corresponds to the beginning of the Late Iron Age.
Another shape that can be dated to the Late Iron Age is that of flattened bottles, also called “pilgrim flasks”, one example of which is shown here.
A curious vessel was found inside the so-called “burnt building” on top of Salut, destroyed by fire towards the end of the site occupation. As such, its deformation cannot be taken as the evidence of pottery production on the site but rather related to partial re-melting during the fire.

Ritual objects

Among the ritual objects discovered in Salut this bronze cauldron represents an amazing discovery. It has hemispherical body, slightly convex base and two vertical loop handles fixed at the upper part of the body. The cauldron was hammered from a single piece of metal.
Small spouted cups are known made in pottery, in soft stone and less frequently in copper or bronze. The latter could represent a more “symbolic” version of utilitarian specimens, clearly connected with banqueting, as suggested by the one shown here that was found buried inside the
mud-brick filling of a structural foundation at Salut.


Axes similar to this one, found at Salut, are now largely known in the Oman Peninsula, after some lucky discovery made in recent years. While specimens with larger, mainly crescent shaped blades could still be interpreted as ritual weapons, those with straighter and thicker blade, though small, are likely to be actual tools for chopping and shaping small branches, like the axes still used nowadays by some tribes in the area.
Weapons are a usually well represented category in the Iron Age sites around the area, and the most common are spearheads and arrowhead, of which a sample from Salut is shown in the gallery.

Stone vessels

During the Iron Age soft-stone vessel production in southeast Arabia continued, a tradition which dated back to the Early Bronze Age. However, shapes and decorations changed to such extent that they constitute key dating elements.
Lids are found even more often than the vessels, and were originally associated with closed shapes and boxes. The shape of the knob often reveals their chronology, together with decorations.


Some cylinder seals dating to the Iron Age are similar, in form and style, to Mesopotamian or Near Eastern models, but likely were produced by local artisans.
One cylinder seal is decorated with a row of five men holding hands that, when rolled, creates a continual motif punctuated at intervals with astral symbols, including a solar disc. Another one depicts a horned animal standing between two stylized trees, with a symbol of the sun at its feet and three circles in the upper part of the scene.
Also seal pendants, datable to the Iron Age, are testified at Salut. They show different shapes (irregular pyramid, flattened teardrop, rectangular with rounded corners) and carved decorations, consisting in astral motifs, radial pattern, incised lines and dots.