Azerbaijan – Part 2 – Qobustan / Gobustan

At about 60 kilometers from Baku (this city is also referred as Baki, sometimes) there is Qobustan / Gobustan (spelled both ways) National Park.

After about an hour’s drive, we reached the place. From a distance you see a hill, with lots of rocks on it. It does not give any idea, what is in store for you. When you enter a very well created museum at the entrance, you realize, that you are travelling back in time to stone age.

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This museum explains in details, this site. This site had human settlements dating back to 5,000 to 20,000 years back in time. They have carved various figures on the rocks there. Many tools and other things have been found there and they are on display here. (Not the actual rocks, of course.)

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Unless you go thru the displays, it would be difficult to know, what to look for, on the rocks on the hill. The museum tries to explain the rock carvings with the help of projections, models, animated films etc. They have even recreated the huts which might have been in use during that period. Life size statues are also on display of the people of that era.

Then you can drive to the hill. There is ample parking there and well-constructed pathways are made so that you can see the rock carvings. It is likely that the geological activities must have moved or tilted the rocks over these years.

Still the carvings are quiet clear. (You may not be able to see these carvings, hence I have put circles around them, in the photo. These are not there on the rocks.) English speaking guides are available, for a small fee.

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More than 4,000 pictures of animals, humans, natural life experiences, hunting, and dancing were carved over a span of thousands of years. Most of the petroglyphs are on large cliffs, divided among multiple ancient residences, and in some cases they have been carved over older images. The first carvings depicted natural human and animal figures, often irregularly, but over time they began to more closely resemble the measurements and proportions of their subjects.

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It seems many animals like bulls, horses, deer, goats, and other animals lived in Gobustan. From the rock drawings and the archaeological findings, wolves, tigers, foxes, jackals and other wild animals have been found in this place in ancient times. Even bone of an elephant was found, recently.

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The human figures are rather symbolic and show them dancing in a group. It could have been a ritual dance before the hunt. Azerbaijan has rich culture of dance, even today.

The climate of this region must have been different in that era. Now it is dry and none of those animals are around.  The sea is far away from this place now, it could have been nearer then.

It must have been greener also earlier. Now you can still see some fig and pomegranate trees around. There is a large tent for tourists to rest and there are rooms for the drivers and guides to rest. (So thoughtful, isn’t it ?)

About half an hour’s drive from here there are some mud volcanos and boiling pools. The road is not so good, but your guide can manage. (It will not be possible to reach this spot, if it is raining. The road may get slippery.)

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More than half of the world’s mud volcanos are in Azerbaijan. Even on this site there are couple of them. Occasionally they do erupt and shoot out mud but most of the time, it is just mild simmer. It was quiet windy there but there was no smell of sulfur in the air.

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Azerbaijan is land of fire, In my next post, we will go to two such places, where fire is worshiped.

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