Gobustan Museum in the Open Air
Gobustan is a country of ravines. This name is given to a vast geographical region of Jeirankechmez river basin at the south-eastern spur of the Large Caucasian mountains ridge between Caspian sea and museum in the open air Shamakhy district. About 6,000 inscriptions on the rocks, more than 10,000 nomad’s camps of the Stone Age, settlements of the subsequent ages, many sepultures and other archeological monuments have been revealed at the territory of Boyukdash, Kichikdash, Jingirdagh mountains and Yazyly hill in Gobustan.
The ancient rock inscriptions and other archeological monuments of Gobustan describe a ten-thousand year history, from the early Mesolithic up to the Middle Ages. The Boyukdash and Kichikdash mountains in Gobustan are the historical monuments due to their natural form of peaks which have been used by the ancient people as a natural trap for hunting. In the Bronze and subsequent ages of history the peak of Beyukdash mountain was used as a natural defense from the tribes conflicts.
The rocks of Gobustan present the images of men and women., wild piers, various kinds of goats, kulans, deer’s, gazelles, wild-boars, lines, wolves, dogs and other animals. Many of them are pictured by outlines, and the images of a man of Mesolithic Age are carved on the rocks in a reverse deep relief – full face and profile views. Such rock inscriptions as hunting scene, scenes of labor, dance, harvesting, sacrificing, sea trip on the Solar boat, lions attack animals, piers fight, goats’ fight, herds of horses, caravan of camels and others describe the mode of life of the ancient Gobustanians.
The Gobustanian rocks also present many signs , cups – stationary cup for gathering of the rain water and preparing liquid food, through openings for the tethering of animals, all these refer to the period of domestication of animals.
Even now you can play Gawaldash (stone tambourine) – an ancient musical instrument which was played by Gobustanians during dances, ceremonies and festivals. One of them is at the lower terrace of Boyukdash mountain, another one is at Jingirdag mountain. These musical instruments of the stone Age are the limestone boulders rested upon two points of the underlying rock. If hit them by a stone they produce a sound of large bell. Hitting at various points of the tambourine give different tune tones. Even now you may play various melodies on them. The ancient Gobustanians, who created such works of art as rock drawings, performed their festivals, collective dances of “Yally” type and other ceremonies with music played at Gavaldash. The musical instruments made of organic material (cane, leather, wood) were not preserved till our days. But the stone tambourine is interesting display.
The youngest monument of Gobustan is an old Latin inscription dated from the first century AD. It evidences the stay of the 12th Roman legion and its centurion at the time of Emperor Dominican’s rule in Gobustan (81-96 AD). The written sources mention the invasion of Romans to Transcaucasia as well as the struggle of the local nations against the invaders. But about the stay of the Romans in Azerbaijan in the I century AD. was firstly mentioned on this stone. It is difficult to find the purpose of this invasion but it is known that at that time here passed the old road running from the Near East to the North along the western coast of the Caspian Sea.
The inscription reads: “The age of Domitian Caesar Augustus Germanic. Lutius Julius maxim centurion of the XII instant legion.” The Emperor Domitian received the title “Germanic” in 84 A. D. After his death (96A. D.) the Roman senate gave orders to destroy all his statues and rub out his name in all the inscriptions because of his cruelty and autocracy. This means that the Roman inscription in Gobustan was carved between 81-96 A. D. And the Romans have never visited the territory of Azerbaijan after the death of Emperor Domitian.
In the course of the archeological excavations in Gobustan were found various stone tools, cutters, arrow-heads, chisels, pestles, plummets and other. They are made of silicon, pebbles and refer to Mesolithic and Neolithic Ages. Among the bronze monuments here were found earthenware vessels, bronze weapons, stone tools, decorations and other materials. The whole stock material of the museum-reservation is represented by archeological finds from Gobustan.
The ancient rock images were firstly revealed and studied by the oldest archeologist I. M. Jafarzade
The territory of Boyukdash, Kichikdash, Jingirdagh mountains and Yazyly hill where the ancient rock carvings and various archeological monuments were reserved. It is announced in accordance with the resolution of the Government of the Republic to be the Gobustanian State Historical-Art Reservation, which functions now as a museum in the open air.
By Hasanov Tuncay
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