Just after the coastal town of Finns, where we stock up on water, we take a turn towards the west. The mountains ahead of us are covered in a haze, and we still stop to take some pictures. Someone in a car signals at us, and we end up taking a villager up the mountain. He quietly sits in the back of our 4WD while we drive up the many switchbacks on a steep, rocky track that quickly takes us up the Eastern Hajar mountains. Because of the haze, we do not get views of the Arabian Sea; whenever we look down, we feel surrounded by yellow-brown stones of various sizes. The track meanders through this desolate landscape, bringing us always higher. We pass a village, where we do not see a single person, and at the school building, our hitchhiker gets off.
After a few more stops to enjoy the narrow canyons below, and the views over the countryside, we reach the Selmah highlands. The track leads us through a tiny village in which we, again, see no one even though there are a few cars. Then, on a stretch with sweeping views of the Eastern Hajar mountains, we spot the first beehive tombs scattered around the landscape. The track leads right past several of them, making them very easy to visit. Thought to be around 4500 years old, the towered tombs amaze us when we look at them from close by: how is it possible that they survived for such a long time? They are all constructed by placing flat stone one on top of the other, without any cement used. Yet many are still standing tall, up to 8 metres, constructed with apparent perfection and precision.
Most have a small entrance, facing east, through which you can crawl, which brings you inside the conical towered structure. There are no signs left of those buried here. Many have double walls, which can be seen both inside some of them, as well as several others which have partly collapsed, exposing the inner wall. We also find tombs which have completely collapsed. Even when the tombs are built, this area was sparsely populated; they must have been built so impressively to be visible from a distance. The sun disappears, and when I look up, I notice a dark cloud which covers half the sky, and to my surprise, big drops of rain start to fall, and are the beginning of a real shower - my first rain ever in Oman. What follows is yet another spectacular drive down the mountains on the other side, towards the interior of the country.
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