The sun glinted across the desert landscape of Oman, slowly warming the ground to a scorching heat. People moved about the ancient settlement collecting their belongings. They took one last look back before vanishing.
Or perhaps the scene was less choreographed and more chaotic. Maybe people rushed about under the cover of night, packing whatever they could before fleeing.
Still, someone left behind a “coveted” artifact. The precious items went unnoticed for 4,300 years — until now.
A pair of Ph.D. student researchers from Goethe University Frankfurt decided to follow a tip from locals in Oman, the university said in a June 1 news release. The pair, Irini Biezeveld and Jonas Kluge, were doing field work in the area.
The tip led Biezeveld and Kluge to a desert area near Ibra where they uncovered “several settlements,” the release said. The settlements dated to the Early Bronze Age, a period from 2600 B.C. to 2000 B.C.
A photo shared by the university via Science X Network shows the central part of the site. The area appears empty, a continuous, tannish-brown landscape.
As Biezeveld and Kluge dug, “something green” emerged from the sandy ground: a 4,300-year-old “lump of copper,” the university said.
On the outside, the copper lump was corroded, giving it a green-blue color. On the inside, the students identified three cone-shaped copper ingots, the release said. Together, the metal clump weighed about 3.7 pounds.
Copper was a “coveted commodity” during the Early Bronze Age, the release said. The metal was mined at scale, then melted down and poured into a mold to create a shape known as an ingot. Copper ingots were then traded and used “to make tools and other objects.”
The copper ingots found near Ibra were probably left “behind by mistake when (residents) abandoned the settlement,” the release said.
“A find like this is extremely rare,” archaeologist Stephanie Döpper told the university.
Excavations also uncovered pottery fragments of vessels from the ancient Indus culture, which was once located in modern-day Pakistan and India, the release said.
Oman is on the southeastern-most part of the Arabian Peninsula and borders the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Ibra is in northeastern Oman, about 90 miles southeast of Muscat, the capital city.