Graffiti of Qobustan

Qobustan, Azerbaijan
Jun 9, 2018

Some forty kilometers southwest of Baku is a desolate place called Qobustan. Oil oozes from the soil in dark splotches and methane gas emerging through vents makes the mud “bubble”, forming what are called mud volcanoes.

But Qobustan has another more important claim to fame. Across a flat plain from the shores of the Caspian Sea, are a long line of tumbled boulders. And it is here that in the nineteen thirties, an astonishing discovery was made, quite by accident as often happens. The tumbled boulders hid what were once a series of caves. And the walls of these caves bristled with carvings – more than five thousand in all. Experts theorize this area has seen intensive human use not only over a vast geographic area, but over an incredible stretch of time. First inhabited more than twenty thousand years ago, it saw continued use from Upper Paleolithic to the Middle Ages – a tremendous stretch of thousands of years.

Not painted, but etched into the rock is the legacy of the peoples who once lived here. There are figures of bulls and goats, of boats and rivers, of people and their celebrations. The pictures of horses may be next to pictures of bulls but fascinating to know that the timespan between them are several thousand years.

There are several other areas nearby like Boyukdash and Kichickdash where excavations have yielded evidence of settlements and burials. Desolate it may be now, but it hummed with life for millenia and may well have been part of the cradle of mankind.

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