Since November 2015 the IMTO efforts are focused on the investigation of the area surrounding the "fortress" of Salut, where the associated large settlement was discovered, occupying the slopes of the hill and extending onto the plain. While for the precise evaluation of the site’s extension further researches are surely needed, a few structures were highlighted on the western slope of the northern part of the hill as well.
When considered together with the "husn", the so called Qaryat Salut appears to be among the most impressive Iron Age sites so far discovered in the whole South East Arabia.
The occupation of the site seems to span all the Iron Age, with relevant evidence concerning the latest phases of this period.
The extensive area investigated by archaeologists has been divided into four main zones, named after the cardinal points
Salut Qaryat North (SLQ_North) seems to represent the core of the settlement along with SLQ_East. The main outstanding feature that characterizes this area is the massive fortification wall running East-West and delimiting two different areas. To the north, an open area with numerous post holes and small pits has been interpreted as a "Productive area", possibly related to some metallurgical activity.
To the south stands the actual settlement, characterized by the presence of several structures aligned along long alleyways. Four main such alleys have been so far outlined. The stratigraphy, often disturbed by the Medieval graveyard set directly above the Iron Age remains, speaks of a long-lasting occupation with many building phases. Structures were generally delimited by mudbricks walls with stone foundations; mudbricks floors and platforms are a common feature, although not always well preserved.
Salut Qaryat East (SLQ_East) comprises an extensive terrace system along the eastern slope of Salut’s hill, associated to drainage features. The most impressive terrace is Terrace 4, built as a solid rectangle filled with large boulders; a small passageway through the south-eastern wall served as the outlet of a channel draining water from the terrace.
Clusters of adjoining rooms extending on the plain were also highlighted in front of the terraces, sometimes showing noticeable mudbricks floors. As in SLQ_North, alleyways run between these rooms/buildings; small stone-lined drains flank some of these buildings.
The excavation in SLQ_West started from the investigation of a large building built during the Islamic period. Locals referred to it as a small mosque or some sort of worship place. The excavation revealed a more complicated situation with the wide late structure (Building 13), laying on older remains attributable to the Iron Age. A well with a stone well-curb was located in the space occupied by Building 13, highlighting the relevance of this area.
Although the excavation is still ongoing, different occupational layers were distinguished and many interesting finds were discovered: jars still in situ, unusual pottery and peculiar objects were hidden by the sediments accumulated over three millennia.
In order to estimate the extension of Qaryart Salut, some external soundings (labelled “s-extn”) were dug in addition to the main excavation trenches.
Some of them have led to the discovery of interesting features: inside s-ext4 a room was discovered, with an entrance marked by the presence of a step and a threshold. A large storage jar was also found still in situ.
In s-ext8, located in SLQ_South, the visible crest of a rectangular stone structure, turned out to be the remains of a Bronze Age grave (G13).
More structures have emerged from other soundings but they need more studies to clarify their function; nevertheless, they testify to the remarkable extension of the site during the Iron Age.