The amount of slag, the most common remnant of metal production, found at HLO1 indicates that an estimated 5 – 40 metric tons of copper were extracted on site, which, compared to the much larger Maysar in Oman, was one of the smaller metal producing sites in the region.
Although not much is left of the two-storey mud and stone building, its size, erstwhile decorations that are still discernible, together with the remains of an outer wall with fortifications, is a clear indication that its former residents were people of wealth and influence.
At the entrance to the archaeological site two towers silently stand guard over their respective histories.
One is an obvious example of the many watchtowers that dot the landscapes of both the UAE and Oman from a time when tribes were at odds with one another, not that long ago, while the remains of the other one date from the Um an-Nar period (2600 – 2000 BC) of the Bronze Age.
The original walls of the latter tower have been partly reconstructed during excavation, and although it is difficult to pin a date to its construction, carbon dating of a fire pit that was found against the outer wall, places its construction to a time preceding 1700 BC.
We take leave of Johannes so that he can get back to the job at hand, and follow the animal trails made by goat and donkey hooves into the quiet of a side wadi (valley) now absent of life, except for two donkeys against the opposite slope.
I stare at these animals in wonderment, as their kind have been used as pack animals as far back as the Bronze Age, pre-dating the domestication of the camel.Many crushing and hammer stones, used for the crushing and separating of the ore from the gangue before smelting, has been found in the area.One of the most significant finds were a 4.6 kg copper ingot, almost 100% pure and cast in sand, in a workshop area that was used during the Bronze and Iron Age.During our informal tour of the site, what seems like haphazard piles of rocks, become vivid with meaning, conjuring up thousands of years of human ingenuity and life.It is often hard to imagine that these rocks once played witness to a lifestyle, not just fraught with hardship, but embellished with the gamut of emotions that make us all human, despite being separated by thousands of years.The availability of wood was a limiting factor in metal production, which needed vast amounts of charcoal, that burns hotter than wood, to produce temperatures of between 1150°C and 1250°C for the smelting process.