Qobustan: Rocks and Petroglyphs
November 3, 2012
“This is the most extraordinary pile of rocks I have ever seen.”
My first reaction here at the UNESCO site, Qobustan (Gobustan), 64k south of Baku (Baki) is, “This is the most extraordinary pile of rocks I have ever seen.”
Given my flare for the dramatic, I conclude, “Long ago, a mountain exploded and hurled enormous boulders into the air. They landed helter-skelter to form achingly misshapen hills and caves.”
The geologic explanation of course is less dramatic and more sober:
“Throughout many centuries under impact of the sun, wind, seismic activity and various atmospheric precipitations, blocks of stones broke away from the edges of a vast limestone layer and rolled down the slopes. Here, in the area displaying the fantastic scene of destruction, the huge blocks of stones and rocks chaotically pressed against each other, forming about 20 caves and the canopies serving as a natural shelter to the inhabitants.”*
Yes, inhabitants. Starting about 12,000 years ago.
This area of Azerbaijan is now a semi-arid coastal plain. But long ago this region was “damper” than it is now. A lush savannah supported a variety of wild animals and plants. And who knows what flourished in the sea before the oil and gas drilling began.
The Stone Age inhabitants hunted and gathered and fished. The artists among them left thousands of stone carvings on the faces of the rocks and in the caves. Clearly visible today are the etchings of animals, and hunting scenes, constellations and people rowing boats. The sun is placed in the front of one of the boats. How else, one might ask, can the sun traverse the sky if not carried on a boat?
And how was this area formed? Slowly, boulder by boulder by boulder as the geologists claim? Or, as the dramatist reveals: in one chaotic, cataclysmic, earth eviscerating event.
Climb the rocks. Explore the caves. Examine the art.
Decide for yourself.