Skip to main content
Breaking news Oman' frankincense

The Frankincense road

According to Pliny the Elder, a Roman writer and naturalist of the 1st century, the journey consisted of 65 stages divided by stops for camels and payment points for traders.
And at the beginning of the Christian era, the production of more than three thousand tons of incense started from the port of Sumhuram (KHOR RORI).

This is the whole story of Dhofar that flows from these frankincense trees (Boswellia sacra). 4000 BC AD, they were already a commercial wealth. The incense was exported to India in desert exchange to all Arabia, by sea to Rome. According to legend, the Queen of Sheba offered some to King Solomon.

The capital cities of the kingdoms were important stopping places for merchants.4a They were charged high taxes or duties upon entry into the country. They also paid substantial fees for the services offered to them.

Caravan routes

Frankincense caravans

- Shir (Ubar)

The frankincense was transported to the north by camel caravans. At Ubar, one-tenth of the cargo would be claimed as taxes


required mandatory taxation of all caravans carrying aromatics in the north.


The capital of the Kingdom of the Qataban was an internal stop to trade Indian and extreme Eastern transported form the coast to Aden.

- Marib

An oasis of greenery and trees, which were irrigated by the large dam Marib.

- Yathil

was a prosperous small town surrounded by high walls and surrounded by fields and palm groves.

- Najran

offered the merchants an oasis where they would find food, shelter and water.

- Yathrib

a trading town and a flourishing oasis known for its date palms, was an important stop for caravans and frankincense pilgrims.

- Dedan

Capital of the Lihyanite Kingdom of Northern Arabia, was a commercial hub where several trade routes met.

- Hegra

assured the safe passage of commercial caravans in exchange for a large tax which made his people extremely rich.

- Petra

The Nabataean country was a gateway for the import and export of frankincense and other products much appreciated from South Arabia.

Travel time

Travel time frankicense

Trading areas

archaeological site of SHIR (Ubar)

SHIR (Ubar)

The Shisr fortification was built on an underground water source and sank under the sand. Shisr is some 180 km north of Salalah in the Rub Al Khali Desert.

This oasis, is called in the Koran the "Atlantis of the desert". Both agricultural site and caravan site, was also a very important stop for water on the road that brought the incense from the hinterland (Wadi Dawkah) to the ports of the coast: Al Baleed and Khor Rori. Then Frankincense was transported to Egypt, Mesopotamia and Ancient Greece...

Ubar, could only be seen from space before excavations were undertaken 4c - 4b
Archaeological site of KHOR RORI


The port of Khor Rori - The City of Sumhuram - belonged to the Kingdom of Hadramout, (Yemen) open on the Gulf of Aden, it has long been the starting point of the incense caravans that, for centuries, have crossed the deserts.

The remains of the fortress are located on a rocky hill and are part of a larger defensive system of which there are still traces.

The port was refounded at the end of the first century by LL'ad Yalut, king of Hadramaout, (as evidenced by an inscription still visible on the site) to control the trading of incense in the Dhofar.

Archaeological site of AL BALEED


The history of the city of Al Baleed goes back more than 2000 years before our era and some archaeological research suggests that its prosperity dates back to the Iron Age 5A .

Al Baleed has been one of the largest ports in the Indian Ocean. It has been an important trading post thanks to the export of incense to Rome and China. Objects from China (Ming period) and other countries show its importance on the Silk Road.

There are impressive archaeological remains (64 hectares), surrounded by a high wall on the west side. The wall is pierced by four doors.

The land of Frankincense

Oman natural frankincense

© 2022 All rights reserved.