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Old 4th May 2014, 08:43 AM   #1
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Default Forts and Cannon of Oman.

Salaams All, I have decided to create a new thread entitled Forts and Cannon of Oman...The one can hardly exist without the other, thus, the combined thread. In fact when studying Omani cannon one rarely sees any other than European examples(British or Portuguese)...and there is always the funny story of one cannon ball between two warring Forts ! The wooden trolley or limbres which the cannon were originally mounted on are long gone, thus, they invariably have remade items in the likeness of ...There are a thousand Forts in Oman however I shall deal with the main instalations first.

I will deal with the Muscat forts of Mirani and Jelali separately later and as it happens these were the only two that were constructed by the Portuguese.

Currently I am on a project adjacent the great fort in Barka on the Baatinah Coast near Muscat though, in fact, my office in Buraimi is in the shadow of the huge fort al Khandak in the town centre. In fact in Oman you could say Forts are us !

First a map and then on with the show...

~The Barka main fort next to the sea and shot from the air below.. is famous since Ahmad Said bin Mohammed bin Khalaff bin Saaid al Busaidi the first of the current dynasty in 1743 invited the entire Persian invader contingent (who were demanding payment ) to the fort for a Haffla (banquet) and subsequently murdered the lot of them ...

In fact, he is buried in another great fort at Rostaq in the mountains not far from Barka.~ What is really interesting about Barka is...that the old town is split into factions made up of different peoples involved down the ages ladder in this town on the Baatinah... There are Balooshi, Persian Faraasi and Zadjali contingents..all now integrated as Omani tribes but retaining their own special characteristics and parts of town. We have a field trip organised tomorrow into the Fort, thus, I expect a few pictures !! Stay tuned !!

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Notes;I have recieved special permission from David A. Lockwood (d.a.lockwood.659@gmail.com) to display his great pictures of Omani Cannon throughout this thread.The Barka Fort aeriel picture is courtesy of Ali Said al Namaani; one of my students. Other pictures from http://www.y-oman.com/2013/11/desti...-samail-castle/ Maps from http://www.swaen.com/antique-map-of.php?id=3628
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Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 4th May 2014 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 4th May 2014, 10:58 AM   #2
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Default Bahla Fort.

As a background margin note I have to say that the efforts to revive Omans Forts has been considerable as many were in total despair having been washed out by the heavy rains and generally left to fall apart down the ages. The question of how to handle this situation is not easy to answer since ...do you restore or leave alone the original and build a faximile next to it... Do you flatten it and start again... or is... was there ...a way of retaining the main fort structure and restoring where possible?

Here is a before and after shot of one of Omans most famous fortresses at Bahla originally errected by the Persians in pre Islamic times...It has a perimeter wall surrounding gardens and farms in the shadow of the Fort 12 kilometres long ! In the old picture you can just make out the outline of what is the right side of the Castle..One sneeze would have brought the lot down !

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Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 4th May 2014 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 4th May 2014, 11:34 AM   #3
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Default Omani Cannon.

For a brief but interesting view of what appears to be an Omani Cannon made in Nizwa in the 17th C please see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN8TCs_u05c

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Old 4th May 2014, 07:33 PM   #4
Jim McDougall
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What an outstanding topic Ibrahiim!!! and though it is noted that with the cannon used by Omani's they are nearly exclusively European, British or Portuguese, I believe that discussion can be carried out effectively here without a parallel European forum thread .
What is interesting is that here on the ethnographic forum, cannon are almost never covered (aside from lantaka), while of course on the European forum all manner of ordnance is represented, mostly medieval and renaissance.

It does seem that many of these forts were originally Portuguese, and the same is often the case in many colonial regions in other spheres.

It will be interesting to look into these forts and associated ordnance, and some of the history seen with them. Thank you for citing the sources and links credited with material...nicely done!!!
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Old 4th May 2014, 11:17 PM   #5
Norman McCormick
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Mine's bigger than yours !!!


Cannon at Fort Deeg, Rajasthan. Photo 1900, British Library.
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Old 5th May 2014, 04:50 AM   #6
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
What an outstanding topic Ibrahiim!!! and though it is noted that with the cannon used by Omani's they are nearly exclusively European, British or Portuguese, I believe that discussion can be carried out effectively here without a parallel European forum thread .
What is interesting is that here on the ethnographic forum, cannon are almost never covered (aside from lantaka), while of course on the European forum all manner of ordnance is represented, mostly medieval and renaissance.

It does seem that many of these forts were originally Portuguese, and the same is often the case in many colonial regions in other spheres.

It will be interesting to look into these forts and associated ordnance, and some of the history seen with them. Thank you for citing the sources and links credited with material...nicely done!!!



Salaams Jim, You are right as Michael and many other excellent people have most of the options covered over on the European whilst few cannon have been examined here... despite magnificent pieces of Indian, Persian and Omani work...home grown, perloined, gifted or borrowed.. I hope the blend of Cannon and Forts works well. Regarding Portuguese input it is true that they were superb masters in Fort construction and they did build Mirani and Jelali in Muscat and others like Bahrain however they don't seem to have constructed any others in Oman as the remainder appear to be locally made. I hope members can stay the course with me as with 1,000 Forts and countless cannon it will be a long thread. A bit like making a decent curry !
I was viewing the Met museums Indian cannon exhibits and noted some woppers in that... and as posted by Norman.

In about half an hour I have a full team (10 students) going in to report on The Barka Fort!

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 5th May 2014 at 05:03 AM.
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Old 5th May 2014, 08:44 AM   #7
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Barka Fort proved to be more incredible as access was granted for a special visit today. You dont at first realise that the fort originally stood inside a giant triangular wall making defence doubly strong. Each point of the triangle had a further tower and heavy armament. The main doors had slots above so that should the enemy be fortunate in getting that close hot molten dates could be poured on top of them. The doors in addition were iron spiked against elephant attack.

Cannon varied at the Barka Fort from English 6 pounder through Armstrong 9 pounder to Monks and Dundas 32 pounder balls fired from two and a half ton barrels!!...Cannon were first used by Oman in 1616 at Sohar fort.

What is clear is that gunpowder was a game changerů Forts had to be re constructed to take the heavy recoil and for protection against incoming rounds. Barka has one peculiar cannon designed to fire small shot like a claymore charge.

My favourite Cannon are a pair of weapons gifted by the English and stamped and decorated with the rose configuration and ER and dated 1587. A makers mark IP? appears over the breach end with their regimental numbers. There were a few shot out barrels discovered excavated from the sand in front of the Fort near the sea, badly corroded but probably English 6 pounders and one barrel blown apart.
The Fort cannon are complete with all their oak water barrels and ash ramrods etc.

As noted the first thing to note about the Fort is that the huge triangular external defensive wall is absent! see pictures below. Apparently local people helped themselves to that wall to build their houses about 250 years ago. It therefor stood inside a massive external triangular 20 foot high perimeter wall with a tower in each corner and must have protected a small population of traders, probably slavers soldiers and local people. The extra layer of defence would have been formidable and with the addition of the fort properů almost invincible. The fort is built around two massive towers one of 8 sides and the other round. There are hundreds of rifle ports in addition.

Cannon and inhabitants use a lot of water so Barka was built with 4 water wells built into it. The Fort has dungeons simply very deep holes down which prisoners were lowered and a grate dropped over the hole. Food was simply dropped down the hole.

Shown below are a variety of cannon some from different forts as "examples" of weaponry in general circulation including at Rostaq, Jabreen and in the South at Mirbat (with the peculiar spoked wheels).

Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 6th May 2014 at 06:15 AM.
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