The Cup-marks

The cup-marks near TurkanThe traces of ancient people occur in various forms. One of them is cup-marks. Cup-marks are artificially created simple, roughly hemispherical depressions of about 2–10 cm diameter and up to 3 cm depth on the surface of many megaliths and on a number of separate 'cup-marked stones'. Cup-marks often appear in groups which can consist of more than one hundred marks on a single stone. The carvings are estimated to be around 4000 - 5000 years old, which dates them to the Neolithic and Bronze ages. Currently the purpose and meaning of the symbols remains unclear. Many theories have been suggested but no clear picture has emerged. Some general comments can be made which may provide clues to their function.

  • Many of the rock carvings are sited near, or actually incorporated into, cairns and burial mounds, there by linking the symbols in some way with burial practices and possibly beliefs concerning ancestors and an afterlife.

  • The symbols are also found carved on standing stones and at stone circles, - places thought to have been used for religious and ritual purposes in the past.

  • Carvings often occur on outcrop rock where the site appears to have been specifically chosen so as to give uninterrupted views over the surrounding country.

Cup-marks occur around the city of Baku as well - on the Apsheron Peninsula and Gobustan. The traces of ancient people as burial mounds, stone roads, cup-marks, ancient ceramics can be found in the vicinity of Turkan settlement not far from Baku. Exploring recently this district together with Abbas Islamov I have found out interesting symbols on stones. They represent groups of 9-14 cup-marks, which are located on a circle. Inside the circle there are 2 more cup-marks. Taking into account the age of barrows located nearby, these signs can be dated 2-3 millennia BC. However the meaning of the signs and what part of ritual they were is still unknown. Investigating this issue I have encountered the information about cup-marks, which have been found out in 1991 in Scotland near the city of Edinburgh. They represent 9 cup-marks on a circle with 2 cup-marks inside. Surprisingly as are amazingly similar Scottish signs with the signs, which have been found out for thousand of kilometers on Apsheron. It is easy to judge similarity of the signs on the photos.

Cup-marks discovered in Scotland at Corstorphine Hill

Cup-marks discovered on the Apsheron Peninsula near Turkan settlement

The cup-marks near HajikabulCup-marks located on a circle with two cup-marks inside on side-stones of megaliths appear at other parts of Azerbaijan, sometimes for hundreds kilometers from each other. In particular, on the right photo made by Abbas Islamov you can see the cup-marks on a slab near the city of Hajikabul.

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Photos of the Apsheron cup-marks are published by me for the first time (Faig Nasibov 2005).

The description of Scottish cup-marks can be found at the following sites