Salut Castle and Ruins

Article on the ancient site of Salut in Oman, with archaeological findings thought to date back to the Bronze age!

Salut (صلوت) is an archaeological site near Bisyah (بسية) village in close proximity to Jabreen (جبرين) in the Al Dakhiliyah region of Oman. Salut archaeological site is a home to an ancient fortified collection of ruins and fortifications, some of which date to over 3,000 years ago, and which offer important evidence of the development civilizations in the Arabic peninsula in the Bronze and Iron ages. Salut is a great place to visit, whether you are interested in the ancient history of Oman or just want to explore an archaeological site as part of your visit to Oman, perhaps after visiting the beautiful Jabreen Castle.

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Even though I visit Jabreen almost every time I visit Al Dakhiliyah region, I had never realized that there is a such an important archaeological site like Salut just a few kilometers away. On the way there, the first thing that strikes you is a temple looking structure on top of one of the hills and a nearby beehive tomb. As you get through the plain between the hills, you may not expect to see much of the ruins that distinguish Salut from the surrounding hills, sands and rocky outcrops; however, you will be surprised to see the remains of Salut Castle (قلعة صلوت) distinctively appearing in the landscape, providing a clear indication of the significance of the castle at the time and its ancient grandeur.

The castle is partially re-constructed with more work on-going, and is located on a small hill above what must have been an ancient oasis through a wadi. You can go for a brisk walk into and on top of Salut Castle remains (took us less than 10 minutes), and from there you get a clear view of the vegetation growth around the castle complex, which gives a good indication of the abundance of ground water. We have also heard from some of the people we spoke to that the area does indeed get affected by Wadi floods from time to time. A couple of hundred meters away from Salut castle there are the remains of what is thought to be an ancient tower and what looks like a water channel system that is likely an ancient irrigation system. For a better view, you should drive around the other side of the hill overlooking Salut Castle (where the beehive tomb is), park your car and follow a clearly marked path to the tomb and the temple looking structure (which we actually found out to be actually another burial site).

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Salut has been long identified as a very important site for not only understanding the history of Oman, but the history of the whole Arabic peninsula and the migration of Arabic tribes into this the region. Excavation work carried out in Salut have dated buildings as old as to be in the period between 1,300-600 BC, with various bits of pottery and tools fond that connect Salut site with settlements elsewhere in Oman and beyond. If you’re lucky to visit during the winter months, you might even see one of the archaeologists working in Salut. Due to its importance, Salut has been undergoing extensive excavation work for a while now, with an Italian team (part of the University of Pisa and with association with His Majesty’s office for Cultural Affairs) conducting annual campaigns in Salut since 2004. For more details about the findings from these archaeological surveys, check the mission’s site here, as well the virtual museum of Salut available here.

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Now, even thought you might not be able to tell much about the archaeological history of Salut by just visiting the archaeological site (unless you’ve really gone through all the material in the links above), I reckon it is still an area you should consider visiting, especially if you combine it as part of your visit to Nizwa, Bahla or Jabreen (or all the above together!). The scale of Salut Castle and the surrounding hills, makes for a worthwhile stop that we definitely enjoyed and recommend.

Finally, we would like to thank Gavin and Claire from the Oxbridge Society of Oman for guiding us to Salut ruins and castle, and teaching us more about it, we would have never know about Salut had it not been for them.

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How to get to Salut ruins:

[Note: Our initial post had an incorrect pin location for the ruins, and the directions were not clear. These have now been updated, many thanks to MayaRao for pointing this out and helping with correct directions]

You should be able to reach Salut Ruins within 2 hours from Muscat, taking <200 kms of driving.

Take the highway towards Dakhiliyah (Route 15) and take the turn to Jabreen, past Nizwa and the on the same exit as Bahla (but on the opposite side of the highway). As you reach Jabreen castle, take the left turn on the first round-about you encounter towards Bisyah village. You’ll need to take another right turn after that to continue towards Bisyah. From there you’ll need to drive for another ~15kms where you’ll start seeing hills, Salut ruins will be on your right hand side, you should be able to spot the beehive tomb and the ‘temple looking structure’ on top of one of the hills on your right. If you continue further you should see a brown signboard pointing towards “Salut Castle and archaeological site”. The road turns into a dirt road but the path is clear and you should be able to see Salut Ruins to the left side of the path, as well as the aforementioned beehive tomb and burial site on the opposite hill. If you can’t quite find the exit, show the picture of the temple structure to one of the locals and hopefully they can point you to the right direction. The following is a Google map link with the location of Salut Ruins:

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