This is a collection of rock art images made during my travels.
Click on any image to enter gallery slide show.
Note: A lot of the images have been colour shifted to enhance the rock art, otherwise some of it would be very faint against the rock surface.
Rock Art has only recently found prominence as a subject for serious research in the Middle East, mainly thanks to the efforts of Dr Majeed Khan who has dedicated many years to its investigation in Saudi Arabia.
Unfortunately here in Oman, it has found less interest, although there was a survey done in the 70’s and periodic interest since. Any real effort in cataloguing and preservation seems rather ‘half hearted’ with some sites showing extensive vandalism (Kilroy was here or its Arabic equivalent) being added by visitors.
Another example of disinterest is the Hasat Bani Salt’s figures (Wadi al-Abri between Ghumar and Bilad Sait) which are sculpted in low relief on an “exotic” over 6m in height. Exotics are large fragments of eroded metamorphosed marble which contrast with the surrounding mafic rock. Described by Paul Yule an archaeologist at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg as South-eastern Arabia’s largest and most important rock art monument. It had a fence put round it several years back; go now and you will see the remains of the fence but more importantly ‘spray paint characters added’ this is like adding your own boat to a Turner painting !!!
Maybe one day enough interest will be show (as is happening in Saudi Arabia) before it is too late.
21 thoughts on “A collection of Rock Art Images.”
Hello. I am currently living in Oman. I have visited several of these petroglyphs. But many also seem new to me. I would like to see them while I am here. Is it possible to mark them on a map or get rough location?
Hope you’re enjoying your time in Oman.
It’s been a few years since I left Oman and gave a lot of my maps and location information to a local friend who was interested in his history.
Will see what I can do, it will mean you doing a lot of walking !
All the routes into the Jebel on both the inland and sea side have lots, some difficult to find until you know what rock types to look for.
I have walked the hajar ranges, both east and west, quite a bit. I don’t mind walking difficult trails after these beauties. Specially that beautiful bull! Thanks David.
Ha, that is opposite Coleman’s rock, near Bilad Sait at Al Hamra. There are quite a few items on the rocks that you see looking across the wadi towards the road. Unfortunately a lot of village rubbish and litter as well.
Hi Y Chau,
I think I have found some location information for a number of the images above. If you send me an Email and number the ones you’re interested in (make top left no1, then second row left No4 etc;)
My address is under ‘About me’ I will reply when I am back at home.
I love this stuff. Somewhere I have some nice shots of Aboriginal drawings on basalt column formations in Yakima, Washington.
A fascinating subject, with a lot found in Oman, still to be documented and studied.
…like adding your own boat to a Turner painting – yes. Sad. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. And I’m glad you’re connected with ephem – perfect!
It is a constant fight not helped by the government coming to this subject very late.
ephem has been a great source of inspiration and given me lots of ideas.
Great work and great pics!
We have extremely similar gorgeous rock art here in northern Italy (the Capo di Ponte rock art in Camonica Valley that I visited last year), that were the first Italian site to be added to the UNESCO Heritage List, and it’s amazing to notice that men living in places so far one another made such similar drawings without having the possibility to meet.
Thanks for visiting.
Sorry this is a late answer (step off the world at least once a year – no phone or computer for a month)
Similarities in rock art around the world has always fascinated me as well; I have not seen a good explanation. Maybe a bit like oral history which gets passed on over generations.
Fantastic images David, great to see this rock art. Reminds me of (somewhat) similar work on rock, or petraglyphs I saw in Namibia a few years back, although of course that is throusands of miles away and its inane to generalise. There was the same facination with animals though, presumably not just for hunting/instruction but also for sacred purpuses (?)
Anyway, always fascinating to see this type of stuff.
How old are these images would you say? Or do they range over a long historic or prehistoric period?
Astonishing that anyone would be moronic enough to vadalise them. Utterly moroic. Brain-dead in fact.
As one of your reades commented above, that just makes it even more imprtant that you are documenting them. Fair play to you.
Still heartbreaking though.
regards from Dublin –
Ha similarity with images that are thousands of miles apart; it seems strange that rock art in say America can look almost identical (subject matter and style for example) with some found here. Then when one looks at structures and burial methods, it becomes even more interesting, especially some of the stuff now being found in Saudi Arabia (more open for research at long last) objects that can only be fully comprehended from the air! ring any bells ?
Age – it is generally thought (with the aid of new technology & money no object – Saudi again) that a time span back almost 8000 years with average in the 2 – 4000 year period.
Jubbah in Saudi for instance has a major rock art area with discoveries being made every year; there is evidence of four major periods of settlement going back through the Middle Palaeolithic.
Vandalism has many reasons – all stupid…… but it comes down to education in the end; with luck, as that improves and public awareness is becoming greater, it will diminish. Can live in hope !
I am sorry to say, but it seems unlikely the efforts at preventing grafitti will be all that successful. I spent a good chunk of time this week investigating a graffiti incident over top of indigenous pictographs where I live. There are very severe penalties for such actions around here, and it is widely known that the art is still considered sacred in the aboriginal communities, besides which it is beautiful. Still, some mindless and thoughtless jerks decided to shoot balls of paint at a panel of paintings 7 or 8 metres up a cliff. This is happening all over the world. The same kinds of people also slash the mona lisa, take home bits of the pyramids, pick at paint on murals in the sistine chapel, or over-paint Banksy’s murals. Can you tell my work affected my mood this week?
In any case, your are doing a terrific thing just by documenting these in detail. Good digital photographs can now be manipulated to really bring out the figures that have faded and not easily discerned with the naked eye (see this website for instance: http://www.dstretch.com).
Also, on the vandalism front, the good news is that often the old paintings are well and truly fixed to the rock surface, their constituents are bonded and not likely to be affected by many of the modern solvents that work on paint, and in some settings there is even a transparent layer of naturally deposited silica over the top of the paintings that adds another layer of protection. So, they can be cleaned, though not easily if someone has scratched into the surface. The bad news is that once there is some grafitti it attracts more. It should be removed quickly or the rock art could be obscured completely.
Mindless; unfortunately if one takes out the lack of education (appreciation for the history) you are left with only one common denominator – as you rightly put it JERKS…….
The silica deposit is beginning to be used as an aid to ageing the images here, along with animal depictions (extinction trends due the extreme climate changes over millennia) not to mention all the high-tech gadgets that can be utilised when money is no object (think Saudi) it makes me wish I was more than just an amateur with an interest.
The site link – ho no…. now I need to go and try yet another method. The weather is just getting tolerable again so will try over-night stops so that I can give side lighting a go with controlled flash. Using layers in Photoshop I maybe able to simulate DStretch (could always sweet talk the (image intel people 🙂 ).
DStretch is free to people with a serious interest, and really very easy to use. I downloaded it last year and use it every now and then and it can produce remarkable results.
There is a long and honourable tradition of “serious amateurs” making very substantial contributions to rock art studies – you are well placed to be one of those with your photographic skills. There is, indeed, a bit of a (inexplicable) tradition of “serious archaeologists” eschewing rock art studies.
So, I would say, launch in to it with both feet. While you are photographing, and if you have access to a GPS unit, keep precise locational data, that will be a huge benefit if you can hook up with archaeologists. And, do try to connect with someone that is interested in to find out if there are ways to collaborate, or just to contribute data to a inventory.
Does Oman have an inventory of archaeological sites? A permitting system of some kind for archaeologists? If they do, then you might want to connect with them to see if you can make useful contributions to their records. If you are not altering or disturbing the rock art in any way (for instance, making rubbings of petroglyphs onto cloth, or chalking in the outlines), then likely you won’t need permits and your contributions would be welcome (that is how it works here, anyway). Or perhaps talk to the archaeologists at the Sultan Qaboos University, they seem to be doing some rock art studies recently.
Likely these are all things you have thought of, but really, there is usually a lot of room for someone with interest and technical skill to make a valuable contribution, and have fun doing it.
Food for thought – thanks.
These are wonderful. It’s nice to see them all together!
I thought it was a nice opportunity to give a hint of what can be found here; a better idea with some of them together like this.
A lot of the images I have are more for record purposes, as it is a subject that I’ve more than a passing interest in. The last two for instance, are now under several metres of water………
Very interesting, and your photos are also very good! I hope they succeed to preserve them, in a serious way. Did they have reindeers there in those ages??? Looks like it, but probably deers more likely. Actually my uncle was an archeologist doing field work in Saudi Arabia when he was young. But unfortunately he died early (in 1981) and way too long before the internet, so I don’t know exactly what he did. I need to ask my aunt (who is now 89)…
Thank you Bente,
Yes that one has foxed me as well, it certainly looks like a reindeer; I think it represents a small deer that was hunted for food. Maybe due its importance as food, they have exaggerated the dimensions to signify this… who knows.
I think Saudi has come a long way since your uncles time; (worked there myself once) but some fascinating stuff being ‘found’ I am sure he must have been very happy in his work.