Beehive Tombs of Al Ayn - Atlas Obscura

Beehive Tombs of Al Ayn

Al Ayn, Oman

The best-preserved beehive tombs in Oman with spectacular backdrop. 


Al Ayn is a small rural village similar to many others found in and around the Hajar Mountains. Despite the gorgeous mountains surrounding it, this village would probably go unnoticed if it weren’t for a line of ancient tombs perched on a ridge.

The combined effect of erosion and harsh weather conditions affected some tombs more than others, but a surprisingly high number of them remain standing considering that no restoration or preservation work has been done. The sturdiness of these tombs is due to their high and dome-shaped structures, making them resistant to strong winds, heavy rains, and earthquakes. 

It is estimated that these tombs are about 5,000 years old, which makes them the oldest funerary structures in the Arabian Peninsula. Alongside clusters of tombs, there are quarries and stone-masonry workshops that date back to the same period. This suggests that quite large settlements once lived in the area. Furthermore, the variety of size, shape, and complexity of the tombs point to a society heavily based on hierarchical principles. 

Around 19 tombs can be found at different stages of preservation in Al Ayn, or more specifically, on a ridge along Wadi Al Aya. With the reddish folds along the ridge and the glowing limestone of Jebel Misht as a backdrop, the site is simply stunning.

Know Before You Go

A paved road goes through Al Ayn. From the road, take one of the two trails that snake through some gardens, cross a dry riverbed, and walk on a short uphill trail to reach the tombs. 

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January 31, 2024

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