Monday, April 3, 2017

Traditional Arabian Villages and Forts: Shorfat al Nakher and Husn Alfurs

On the road up to Jebel Shams, everybody knows, there's the ruins of an old village, a lot like Misfah Al Abriyeen and Al Hamra, but from the looks of it, older. It is often called "the ruins of Wadi Ghul" but it is actually called Shorfat al Nakhar. It is alternatively known as the Persian Castle, "Husn Alfurs". I doubt the Persians actually called it that, but I am sure the locals did.

Maybe Misfah Al Abriyeen in the time the Rogan watchtower was erected, was built around the same time, but I rather doubt Misfah Al Abriyeen was called Misfah Al Abriyeen then...Although no one really knows if a formal village existed in Misfah then or if the Persians killed everyone off there before the Al Abri tribe moved up from the old Wadi village down to settle Misfah. If so, then yes, the villages have similar time-frames. If not, this village seems older. Archaeologists say it was settled in 200 AD, before the Arabs came from Yemen with the breach of Yithrib dam, and some sources date the areas current architecture to 2,500 years ago, which was close to my guesses when discussing the architecture with my Omani husband. Still, I totally need to see more than one source confirming that to be sure.
Now, I totally intend to revise this post after I do some research on it, but the corner slab stones, and some of the defenses seem to pre-date gun powder style warfare so I am going with bows and arrows, from some of the slats I saw. Will change this if I am wrong, but this would make foundations dated from the mid 12th century (like 1130s-1150s) I believe? Again, don't take me at my word. What is sure, this village was properly abandoned by the 1960s.

So apparently whoever's fort this was, the locals finally overthrew them and hated the bloody fort so much they decided to totally destroy it rather than use it. Most captured forts in Oman were re-used by Omanis, but this one, locals say anyways, no.

Still, certain casements and the old walls remain, in ruins, the stones too big to easily re purpose I suppose, if locals are wrong, and Omanis decided just to dismantle the fort to build other structures instead in more peaceful times.

We saw some cool carvings on the massive doorway support stones (kind of unique), and the carved places that would be used to grind foodstuffs. Uniquely, since many are collapsed, I saw carved masonry joint stones, which I have not seen anywhere else in Oman (any other structures that would have used them have been restored by the Ministries so I dunno). Also, windows are unique, marking these windows as defensive.

Due to the climb the other day (see my previous post) I was a little exhausted to say the least, so we only stopped up here shortly. We did see a lot of expat tourists taking photos from across the road though;). It was a little warm making the five minute trek up the dry wadi bed to the village (entered into by a farm with a white gate and Ministry sign carved off and riddled with bullet holes, beside an old mosque, under which the falaj system runs). I think early morning or 4 in the afternoon would be a better time to explore the ruins than when we went. It was a little warm.
Next time I go I will be sure to explore more, and see the fort ruins itself of Husn Alfars (we stopped at the end of the most significant wall chunk in the village itself).

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