Published on Ottobre 31st, 2018 | by Redazione Italia


Gobustan: the open-air museum of Azerbaijan

A unique wonder of the world and Azerbaijan called an open museum, Gobustan makes us proud with our gobustanmotherland once again.

This great wonder proves that Azerbaijan is the one of the most ancient place of old civilization. Gobustan is famous for its rock art, engravings and mud volcanos. Every year a lot of tourists get amazed by this wonder. I will try to open the mystery of Qobustan.
Lets talk a bit about its history Gobustan National Park (Azerbaijani: Gobustan Milli Parkı) officially Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape is a hill and mountain site occupying the southeast end of the Greater Caucasus mountain in Azerbaijan, mainly in the basin of Jeyrankechmaz River, between the rivers Pirsagat and Sumgait. It is located west of the settlement of Gobustan, about 40 miles (64 km) southwest of the centre of Baku on the west bank of the Caspian Sea.

gobustan-2Where does this name come from? The territory of Gobustan is cut up with numerous, sometimes rather deep ravines (in Azerbaijani: gobu). That is a suggested origin of the Gobustan geographical name.
Azerbaijan great researcher Archelogist Ishaq Jafarzade first in 1939 informed the world community about Gobustan. Great norwegian scientist Tur Heyerdal also reserched in Qobustan . He was so surprised by this colourful engravings. When he saw the sun-painting ships on the rocks, he said with great admiration, “The Gobustan roots are a pearl of culture that goes back to ancient times and is even older than the ancient history of Mesopotamia.” In his last book, “The Quest for Odin,” he pointed to the search for Vikings’ in Azerbaijan. According to Tur Heyerdall, a number of contemporary European tribes and peoples, including the Scandinavian peoples of the Scandinavia lived in Gobustan, but then migrated to Europe for unknown reasons. The famous scientist said that the rock paintings in Gobustan were similar to those found in stone caves in Scandinavia.

Tur Heyerdal, who made special trips to Gobustan to explore these rock paintings in 1981-1994, named the Caspian coast as the cradle of a great civilization.
In 2007 Gobustan was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be of “outstanding universal value” for the quality and density of its rock art engravings, for the substantial evidence the collection of rock art images gobustan-and-mud-volcanopresents for hunting, fauna, flora and lifestyles in pre-historic times and for the cultural continuity between prehistoric and medieval times . In 2007, it became listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the estimated 6,000 petroglyphs (rock engravings) on its rocks and 20 caves, 40 kurqans (burial tombs) which cover 537 hectares.
There are many hundreds of petroglyphs in Gobustan some images are big and some are extremely small. All of this paintings help us to study ancient life well. So good that most of petroglyphs are generally in good conditions.

The pictures reflect different hunting scenes, ceremonial and ritual processes of the inhabitants of these places also collective dances like national dance “Yallı” It is also interesting that , some rocks in Gobustan are different from the stones in the world due to their physical composition and geological characteristics. As you know, one of the great rock fragments here is called Qaval Stone. When he is struck on the surface, it sounds like a tambourine or drum. For this reason, the local population called it “Qavaldaş” Qobustan helps us to understand the life of our ancestors, condition of life and their belief, faith and so on. This is a valuable precious source. 

imp-domitianoHowever, there is also one notable inscription on a rock at the foot of the Boyukdash Mountain, left by the Roman Thunderbolt Twelfth Legion in the 1st century AD that is the evidence of Roman occupation in this region..

You can also find a rock beside known graffiti by a Roman legionnaire, It reads:

Imp Domitiano Caesare avg Germanic L Julius Maximus” – Leg XII Fvl.

It means “The time of Emperor Domitianus Caesar Augustus Germanicus, Lucius Julius Maxim, and Centurion XII of the Lightning Legion.”

It is interesting that the XIIth legion of Domician, the Roman emperor, visited the territory of Gobustan in the 1st century A.D.. Flavius Eutropius, an ancient Roman historian who flourished in the latter half of the 4th century, repeatedly reported that during his fifteen-year reign (81-96), Domitian made campaigns against along the northern border of the empire.

Most scientists believe that Domitian sent the Legion to the Caucasus to help the allied kingdoms of Iberia and secrets-of-gobustan-and-mud-volcanoesAlbania. There is also possibility that Azerbaijan  settlement of Ramana or Romana in the vicinity of Baku perhaps also speaks of the Roman troops’ stay in Absheron.

         The rock paintings of Gobustan also attract the attention of modern astronomy. Ancient people really considered sun or sunset, day and night  mysterious and  all important events of nature as a miracle. There are also temples, sacred places in Gobustan and are still visited by locals.

The mystery of Roman inscriptions in Gobustan still remains unsolved. Scientists continue to offer different versions and ideas.

Gobustan a wonder full of secrets still waits for new scientists to open unopened doors of this miracle. I think it needs too many years. Protecting and learning our history is our moral and civil duty.

Ema Hasanova

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