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South of Muscat, remnants of Harappan pottery indicate some level of contact with the Indus Valley Civilisation.

Muscat's notability as a port was acknowledged as early as the 1st century CE by the Greek geographer Ptolemy, who referred to it as Cryptus Portus (the Hidden Port), and by Pliny the Elder, who called it Amithoscuta.

Known since the early 1st century CE as an important trading port between the west and the east, Muscat was ruled by various indigenous tribes as well as foreign powers such as the Persians, the Portuguese Empire and the Ottoman Empire at various points in its history.

A regional military power in the 18th century, Muscat's influence extended as far as East Africa and Zanzibar.

Decisively, in 1650, a small but determined body of the Imam's troops attacked the port at night, forcing an eventual Portuguese surrender on January 23, 1650.

Since the ascension of Qaboos bin Said as Sultan of Oman in 1970, Muscat has experienced rapid infrastructural development that has led to the growth of a vibrant economy and a multi-ethnic society.But "Ov-man" (Omman), and the old Sumerian name Magan (Maa-kan), means sea-people in Arabic.An inhabitant is a Muscatter, Muscatian, Muscatite or Muscatan.Scholars are divided in opinion on which of the two related to the city of Muscat.Similarly, Arrianus references Omana and Moscha in Voyage of Nearchus.

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