Sumhuram - History and Facts | History Hit


Sumhuran, Dhofar, Oman

Sumhuram in Oman contains the ruins of an ancient port city which was once at the heart of the ancient frankincense trade route.

Peta Stamper

13 Jul 2021

About Sumhuram

Sumhuram, also known as Khor Rori, contains the remains of an ancient port city and military stronghold which is located near the modern city of Salalah in Oman, close to the Yemeni border. One of the most important pre-Islamic settlements in the Dhofar region, Sumhuram is also one of four sites listed on UNECSO’s Land of the Frankincense World Heritage site.

Sumhuram history

A centre of the ancient frankincense trade route, Sumhuram was founded towards the end of the 1st century BC by LL’ad Yalut, king of the Hadramant, and became an important trading post for merchants across the Arabian Sea as well as the Indian Ocean.

Frankincense was highly in demand across the ancient world, especially in Rome where it was used as incense for temples. Indeed, Sumhuram was widely known in ancient times, with references to the port being found in Greek and Arabic historical records.

However, over the centuries the changing shape of the coastline saw Sumhuram’s port slowly silt-up and trade moved to other areas. It’s likely the site was abandoned by the 3rd century AD.

Sumhuram today

Today, open between 8am and 8pm everyday, visitors to the site can find Bronze Age fortifications from the small fortified town as well as a local palace ascribed to the Queen of Sheba. Arabic inscriptions at the monumental entrance gate confirm the name of the town as Sumhuram, though today it is known by many different names, including Samharam, Mosha, Moga and Khawr Ruri.

Upon the city mound you will walk a maze of partially excavated rooms and pathways, overlooking a small freshwater harbour formed behind the break in the sea wall. Parts of the city walls are under restoration today and objects found include incense burners, shells used as oil lamps, pottery and fishing tools.

Entry fees to the open-air site and indoor gallery are based on vehicle size.

Getting to Sumhuram

This old port city is located on a small hill on the eastern side of Salalah City after Taqa village. The easiest way of getting there is by car and Sumhuram is just off the 49 motorway and there is parking available on site.