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Ore roasting pit at Wadi Khutwah

There are reports that the copper smelters of Magan learned that roasting copper ore before smelting improved the smelting process, reducing the amount of time -- and charcoal -- necessary to smelt the ore.

  • One of the eight sections of the structure
  • The structure is filled with ash and debris
  • 3m wide structure carved into conglomerate
  • Short sloping ramp located on northwestern side
  • Evidence of copper smelter found few meters north
  • Conglomerate at edge discoloured by intense heat



Literature regarding copper smelting in ancient history suggests that the individuals responsible for preparing the ore realized the ore was easier to prepare for the kiln when the ore was roasted. Apparently the roasted ore was much easier to crush, converting the mined ore to a powder which was then added to the kiln along with quantities of charcoal.

Near Sultan's oasis at Khutwah, there is a structure cut into the conglomerate that shows signs of intense heating and fits at least one description of an ore roasting pit found in the Ras al Khaimah area. The pit is approximately three meters by three meters with a central channel and eight arms or compartments, four on either side of the central channel. A short sloping ramp appears at one end of the central channel.

Sultan, when interviewed on one occasion, said his family had, over the years used the pit when camping while he has used it for burning trimmings from the date palms. It is unlikely the burning of refuse was sufficiently intense to cause the discoloration of the conglomerate but it is entirely possible.

Sultan said the story handed down in his family is that the pit was used to burn something and that it was very hot.

Whether it was used as an ore roasting pit remains to be established and further research is necessary to compare the structure with other ore roasting pits found elsewhere in the Oman peninsula and in other ancient ore smelting sites in, for example, Cyprus and Palestine.



Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan