Al Jassasiya: Mysterious Symbols Carved in the Deserts of Qatar

Al Jassasiya: Mysterious Symbols Carved within the Deserts of Qatar

(CNN) – Some spring off from mushy rocks like reptiles that bathe within the solar. Others are mysterious depressions that resemble an historical board sport performed all around the world. Some are simple.

On a desolate, windswept nook of Qatar’s northeastern coast, among the many sand dunes of a barren desert, lies Al Jassasiya, the most important and most essential rock artwork web site within the Gulf nation.

Right here, centuries in the past folks used a sequence of low limestone outcrops as material on which they carved symbols, ornaments, and objects they noticed of their atmosphere.

In all, archaeologists have discovered a complete of 900 petroglyphs, or “rock reliefs,” at Al Jassasiya. They’re largely obscure cup marks organized in varied patterns, together with rows and rosettes, but in addition hanging representations of crusing ships, often seen from above but in addition depicted in a linear profile, amongst different symbols and indicators.

Farhan Saqal, head of excavation and web site administration at Qatar Museums, informed CNN, referring to the rock carvings of ships: “Though rock artwork is frequent within the Arabian Peninsula, a number of the carvings in Al Jassasiya are distinctive and can’t be discovered anyplace else. “. Seen from a fowl’s perspective.

“These sculptures signify a excessive diploma of creativity and observational abilities [on the part of] The artists who made it [of] Summary pondering, as they may not see the schooner (conventional ship) from above.”

cup marks

Specialists say the rock carvings at Al Jassasiya are distinctive to the positioning.

Courtesy of Dimitris Seidis

There are a few dozen notable rock-cut websites in Qatar, most of them alongside the nation’s coast – though some sculpture could be seen within the coronary heart of Doha’s Al Bida district, overlooking the Corniche, a preferred waterfront promenade.

Al Jassasiya, about an hour north of the fashionable capital of Qatar and close to the traditional pearling port of Huwailah, was found in 1957. Over the course of six weeks in late 1973 and early 1974, a Danish workforce led by archaeologist Holger Kapel and his son Hans Kapel carried out a examine The whole web site is neatly categorized in footage and graphics.

Of all documented single shapes and constructions, greater than a 3rd include cup marks of assorted configurations, shapes, and sizes.

Probably the most notable sample consists of two parallel rows of seven holes, main some to imagine that these have been used to play the mancala, a board sport widespread in lots of components of the world since historical instances through which two contestants dropped odd and even numbers of small stones into depressions.

Others disputed this idea, pointing to the truth that a number of the holes within the algebra are too small to suit any of the stones, whereas others could possibly be discovered on cliffs – an impractical selection that might have induced the counters to fall off.

Extra options embrace cup formations used indirectly for divination; or to kind and retailer pearls; Or as methods for calculating time and tides.

sport idea

The region contains about 900 inscriptions.

The area comprises about 900 inscriptions.

Courtesy of Dimitris Seidis

So, what’s the goal of that actually and what do they imply?

“It’s totally tough to reply,” admitted Sakal, who additionally would not assist board sport idea. “We wouldn’t have direct proof of the decorations used within the espionage,” he mentioned.

“For my part, they might have a ritual that means and performance, that are too previous to be defined in ethnographic phrases.”

However how previous is he? “We do not actually know,” Sakal admitted, explaining that the petroglyphs – and rock artwork on the whole – have been an enormous problem to this point.

“There are wild assumptions concerning the age, starting from the Neolithic age to the late Islamic interval,” he added. “Personally, I believe that not all sculptures have been made on the similar time.”

A decade in the past, a single scientific examine of 9 totally different rock carvings at Al Jassasiya discovered no proof that they have been various hundred years previous, however researchers concluded that extra research have been wanted, together with the event of latest strategies for limestone carvings. .

Whereas consultants cannot say when, and by whom, the Al Jassasiya rock carvings have been created, all of them agree that essentially the most spectacular – and weird – carvings on the web site are these in boats.

Theories differ about the age of the rock inscriptions.

Theories differ concerning the age of the rock inscriptions.

Courtesy of Dimitris Seidis

These creations present essential details about the varieties of vessels used within the burgeoning fishing and pearling industries (for hundreds of years, mainstays of the Qatari financial system), in addition to their varied parts.

Most boats seen from above are often fish-shaped with pointed sterns and rows of oars, carved with a pointed steel device.

It has many particulars, akin to ribs and cross holes which might be more likely to present the position of the masts and rams.

In some circumstances, a protracted line from the strict depicts a rope ending in both a conventional Arab (a triangular two-hole stone anchor) or a European (a steel anchor with a protracted stem and curved arms, first used within the area about seven centuries in the past).

Journey to the afterlife

Mystery prevails over the purpose of some of the sculptures.

Thriller prevails over the aim of a number of the sculptures.

Courtesy of Dimitris Seidis

Frances Gillespie and Faisal Abdullah Al-Nuaimi wrote in an article titled “Oars in some boats, as they need to be when used for rowing, however level to totally different areas.” ”

“That is what it will have appeared like when the boats have been moored on the banks of the pearls and the oars have been left in place in order that the divers may cling to them and relaxation every time they climbed.”

Specialists say they will solely speculate about why there’s such a excessive focus of ship carvings at Al Jassasiya, in comparison with different coastal rock websites in Qatar.

Al-Nuaimi and Gillespie identified that “ships had a powerful function within the beliefs of historical peoples, who thought of them a symbolic technique of crossing from this world to the opposite.”

“Each the Babylonians and the traditional Egyptians believed that the useless reached the underworld on a ship. Greek mythology spoke of the barge Charon, who carried the souls of the useless throughout the Styx River to the underworld. Maybe the earliest ship inscriptions are echoes of a prehistoric people reminiscence” .

Regardless of the cause, guests ought to keep in mind to take water with them and put on a hat and sunscreen when touring among the many sculptures to ponder their that means.

The fenced web site doesn’t have any shaded areas, so one of the best instances to go to are at dawn and sundown. Al Jassasiya is positioned south of the well-known Azerbaijani seashore, so an tour there may also be mixed with a calming day by the ocean.