We were driving smoothly on the highway south of Baku, when we suddenly realised we had missed the turnoff for the petroglyphs. We instantly decided to visit the mud volcanoes first, and left the petroglyphs for later. On our way back north, we make a U-turn in the highway, and then follow indications on our navigation app. We drive one of the streets of Gobustan, but when we reach high rails in the middle of the road, realise that there is no way we can pass. We drive further south, take different road, and that eventually brings us to the entrance of the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, where the petroglyphs are found. We buy our tickets, and drive up the road a little more. At the end of it, we park. We find a natural musical instrument of fine rocks at the start of a path.
We walk along the foot of a rocky landscape. It doesn't take long before we spot the first petroglyphs. Rows of humans, prominently carved out of a dark brown boulder. It is easy to recognise the shapes of human figures. They are depicted standing, with arms hanging down and bent legs in what could be dancing positions. We find signboards with explanations of the petroglyphs we see. We walk further down the path, and see many more rock carvings. There are caves with scores of petroglyphs, there are faces of boulders with carvings. We see animals carved out: bulls, horses, and deer. We see humans, both men and women (some clearly pregnant). We see reed boats which undoubtedly were used by the people who made these works of art so many centuries ago, back to the Mesolithic Era, or around 10.000 BCE.
As always when I see these ancient works of art, I try to imagine how our far forefathers lived, what their world looked like, why they decided to depict things of their everyday life on the rocks in their landscape, or perhaps even their dwellings. Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, known for his open-mind approach, often came here to study the possibility that the Vikings originated from these lands. We walk the landscape of boulders scattered around the landscape, back to the entrance where we have something small to eat. We drive back to the museum a little down the road, which turns out to have a quite good collection of artifacts and explanations of the petroglyphs, and of regional history in general. When we have visited the last rooms, we are ready to drive back to Baku.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Gobustan Petroglyphs (Azerbaijan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Gobustan Petroglyphs. Read more about this site.