Musah 2005



Musah 2005

For many years, Musah was one of the villages overlooked when the chapter was planning weekend field trips. Today, it is one of the most popular destinations!

Musah is a small mountain oasis community several kilometers up one of the many wadi systems that drain onto the gravel plain between Mahdah and Wadi Jizzi. Unlike some mountain communities, there is no "new" Musah; a few families remain in the old houses but most have moved to Mahdah or to the relatively new housing at Haywan and Afrathe.

Each of the mountain communities we visit is unique in some way -- Musah is no exception. Here there are three falaj systems, one collecting water from a mountain stream, one collecting water from a spring deep in a side wadi, the third an amazing spring located on the top of a mountain in the center of the oasis. There is also an interesting collection of archaeology including copper smelters, graves and diversion walls.

Musah is also one of the destinations for our monthly moonwalks. On those evenings, members walk through the oasis and out onto the gravel plain beyond. It is an unforgettable experience to sit in the moonlight and listen to Will play his flute, the sound echoing off the mountain faces.

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From the spring, looking down on the houses
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Though the water flow these days is modest, the oasis is healthy
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Pommegranate is a popular fruit grown at Musah
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The pommegranate trees at Musah are larger than we find at other communities
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A rare triple
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The meter stick demonstrates how large and succulent the fruit are
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Not all of the fruit is harvested at Musah, an indication of the decline in farming there
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Lemon and other citrus crops are in abundance
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However some lemon trees show the same blight evident in other oases
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Looking down into the spring
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In the center of the photo one of the bubbling springs
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From the spring, the view down the deep channel cut into the mountain
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Ripples evidence of the running spring
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The strongest spring gurgles from a crack in the rock
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From the summit, where there were once many springs, evidence of abandoned water channels
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The slope of the mountain here is covered in tufa, with many small rivulets
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The view from the summit down onto the oasis
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Another of the small water channels that once carried spring water down the slope
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Minerals once dissolved in the spring water built up the sides and bottoms of these channels
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This small channel winds down the steep face
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There are some walls that do not seem to have any purpose
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One of the access holes used to tunnel into the mountain to the spring
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At this section of the trail, there are three springs, one with three access holes
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Members inspecting the rock mined from the spring channel
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Musah features several well-built small bridges over the deep falaj channels
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There were many orange trees in the oasis
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The long, sharp thorns of the orange tree make harvesting a challenge
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Another view of the sharp thorns
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The oasis, while maintained, is not in prime condition
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A neatly trimmed date palm is evidence not all fields are being neglected
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Grapes, often found in mountain oases, were doing well at Musah
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Detail of the healthy grape vines
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The fallaj system at Musah is a combination of block, mud and shaped cement
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There are several reservoirs inside and on the edge of the oasis
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Bundles of straw are all that remain of this grain crop
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A plant growing in the vertical face of a wall
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The farm laborers, as in many oases, are now exclusively from Asia
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One of two small mosques in the oasis
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Combination footpath and falaj
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An open air mosque
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Dates ripening
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Another view of dates ripening
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Evaporation and dissolved minerals leaves a film on the surface in this small reservoir
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A small curious construction, perhaps a fox trap
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Another view of the trap
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A well-worn path leads beyond the oasis
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The path leads to a mountain stream, some archaeology and grass
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Some of the lush growth in the stream bed beyond the oasis
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Another view of the grass
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Looking back at the oasis from the trail
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The view up one of the side wadis; there are houses and walls in all directions
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The walls serve to protect the terraces from the powerful stream that washes down this side wadi
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Musah is actually a collection of several small farms dotted along the wadi bed
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One of the constructions on the gravel plain opposite the oasis
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A general view of the remains of buildings
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Pottery is in abundance, most of it Islamic
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In the main wadi bed, a thick stone wall protects a small terrace
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The view up the wadi bed, the oasis on the left, the archaeology on the right
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Evidence of old walls and terracing
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The winter sky over Musah
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An old oil container used as a drainspout
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Another view of the drainspout
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In the village, a date storage jar
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Building rubble and garbage collect in the yards of abandoned houses
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A small opening to drain water from a yard into the 'street'
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A large stone wall -- surrounding a courtyard? -- in the montains near Musah
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An innovative tool for harvesting oranges
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The oranges of early winter were not ripe yet
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A birka abandoned in the oasis
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The group making its way down into the main wadi bed
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The view from the wadi bed to the falaj clinging to the mountain side
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Remains of an old deflection wall
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Some of the group enjoyed the view from the falaj
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Some date palms appear to be growing in the walls of the falaj system
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Mango trees and date palms provide shade for other crops in the oasis
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The group navigating the path through the oasis
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The different colors and leaves indicate a variety of crops
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Henna plants are often found around the perimeter of oasis terraces
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These henna plants are in full fruit
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The group was invited to enjoy coffee and fruit, the men in one majlis, the women in another
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One of the women of the community with a classic Omani burka
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Women and grandson? in one of the houses
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Another view of the women
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A woman harvesting leaves from a plant grown in the yard
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Boots and sandals outside the men's majlis
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Another view of the walls of the majlis, house
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Inside the kitchen in the home of some of the laborers
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The laborers posing for a photo in the kitchen
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Lunch!
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Brien in conversation with some of the men who returned to the village for Friday prayers
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In most communities, family members return to the old houses each Friday

 


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