An Umm an-Nar culture stone bas-relief from Al-Qutainah, Sultanate of Oman



The Al-Qutainah stone with its bas-relief decoration was found in a secondary position, reused through time. The object is clearly a facing stone, originally part of an Umm an-Nar period tomb, and was subsequently repeatedly reused for making new engravings. While working out the sequence of images it became clear that the very first image was a pair of human figures. This artwork is associated to grave architecture and therefore dates to the Umm an-Nar period. Two models of interpretation can be suggested, the image of a human pair or the image of a supplicant and deity. Changes in the original meaning of the image indicate conceptual changes in subsequent periods, most probably alterations in the underlying social structure. The importance of the Qutainah stone is not solely due to rare monumental human figurative expression of the period in Oman; furthermore, the find spot in the Adam region is at a distance from the central location of Umm an-Nar culture that has so far emerged.