An aromatic resin used as incense in religious ceremonies and private homes, frankincense is harvested by peeling the bark from its hardy namesake tree (also known as Boswellia sacra), which can grow just about anywhere – even out of solid rock. Technically called olibanum, and especially sacred to Jews for its appearance in the Torah, the resin was given its more common name when Frankish Crusaders brought it back with them to Europe.
In the Dhofar province of southern Oman, the World Heritage Site is composed of the ancient frankincense trees at Wadi Dawkah, the remains of the caravan settlement of Shisr and Wubar, and the trade ports of Khor Rori and Al-Baleed, bordering the Arabian Sea. This area is one of the world’s greatest sources of evidence of the culturally influential frankincense trade, and offers well-preserved examples of medieval-era Arabian architecture.
These days, frankincense remains big business in Oman, and can be purchased from dedicated tradesmen in markets all over the country.