SOHAR Print

Sohar, about halfway between Muscat and Dubai, is 200km NW of the capital, Muscat on the Batinah coast. Once the capital of the country as well as the maritime centre, locally produced copper was carried out in the area almost 5000 years. A number of copper mines are still operational.

Sohar: Culture and Society in an Omani Town by Frederik Barth states that the Jewish community disappeared by 1900. [April 2011]

Title: Monumental Evidence of the Ancient Jewish Community at Sohar (Oman). Author(s): COSTA, Paolo M. Journal: ARAM Periodical. Volume: 11 Date: 1999-2000. Pages: 131-144
DOI: 10.2143/ARAM.11.1.504455. Abstract : The existence of Jewish communities along the northern coast of Oman is reported by many authors and travellers. However, around the end of the nineteenth century there were no more Jews in Sohar, and some 30 years later the only reference to Jews in Oman was the mention that the manufacture of fired bricks is popularly ascribed to Jewish artisans. The archaeological evidence of the Jewish community at Sohar is confined to an inland farmstead located some 7 km from the coast and called 'Burj al-Muwaylaḥ' or 'Bayt Yahūdi', and the Jewish cemetery in the city of Sohar itself. The houses and the synagogue described by nineteenth century travellers have all disappeared. full article. [April 2011]

Qumbaz Al-Yahud Cemetery: "we've visited it more than once. Got photographs somewhere. There are brick-built graves with Hebrew characters on them. The locals referred to the site as the "Qumbaz Al-Yahud". The presence of a Jewish community in an important mercantile centre of former times is entirely natural. These valuable, interesting and ancient communities would have survived into modern times in the Gulf region, and probably contributed to its development significantly, but for the emergence of political Zionism in the late 19th early 20th centuries which destroyed them, and other indigenous semitic communities, in the Middle East - with consequences from which the world continues to suffer. Alasatir Hirst" Source in 2003. [April 2011]

The Jewish cemetery at Sohar, Oman - revisited. Aviva KLEIN-FRANKE (Universität zu Köln, Germany). Abstract: "I visited Oman twice to investigate the Jewish cemetery at Sohar. I took many photographs of the site and documented the names which are written on the bricks of the Memorial Wall. Under the rule of the Persians the port of Sohar was built, Merchants from Persia founded colonies along the eastern shore of the Arabian Gulf. Sohar became a famous port. Trade Agencies from overseas settled at Sohar and traded with goods from China and Japan, Persia and Iraq, India and Yemen, Ethiopia and Egypt. Sohar became what the port of Aden had been, a place for exchanging goods. In the mercantile society of Sohar there also lived Jews originating from Persia and Irak. From the size of the Jewish cemetery at Sohar we can assume that in the past there was a big Jewish community at Sohar. The Jewish cemetery at Sohar was mentioned in a few works by scholars and travellers. Wellsted in 1835 found only 20 Jewish families living at Sohar, who had a synagogue and owned a few buildings. P. Costa mentioned Bayt Yahudi, which still stand as evidence of the past Jewish community of Sohar, but actually the important physical evidence is the Jewish cemetery of Sohar.
In 1958 Wendell Phillips and Alexander Honeyman measured the cemetery and investigated a few tombs out of two hundred. Paolo Costa illustrated the subject with many historical and ethnographic details. In 1980 he counted 95 graves in the cemetery. From year to year the number of graves decreased. In my visit at Sohar in the year 2005 I could count only 12 full tombs and another 5 half-open tombs. All over the ground there are bones scattered. The tombs have an unusual ellipse form, built of bricks and mortar in the form of steps of 5-7 rows; the higher the row, the shorter the ellipse. In the front of the cemetery there is a massive memorial wall from Bricks. Many Hebrew names are engraved into the bricks on the four sides of the wall. Until today the names have not been documented. I copied most of them and took the measure of the wall. I went through the Hebrew sources dealing with Arabia and commerce in the Middle East in mediaeval times, I went through the 'Cairo Geniza' documents as well as Jewish and travellers´ sources and found some interesting related information about the Jews of Arabia as Traders." [April 2011]

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 April 2011 18:59