Rock paintings of Absheron

While the rock paintings of Gobustan, 60 kilometres from Baku, have world renown, few know about specimens of ancient cave art in Absheron proper that can be traced along the Caspian coast from Gobsutan to Baku and further into the peninsula. Rock paintings and dwellings of the prehistoric man have been identified near the settlements of Mardakan, Shuvelan, Zira, Surakhana, Ramana, Gala and at the landfall of the dam connecting the peninsula with the island of Pir Allahi.

One of the most significant artifacts of the ancient art in the region are the paintings on the walls of a grotto in the east of Absheron where the Dubendi High slopes towards the sea. The landscape of this area is surprisingly similar to that of Gobustan with huge boulders scattered on a rocky terrain.

The grotto, that is situated about 150 to 200 metres from the coast on the eastern slope of the Dubendi High, is formed by a large slab of rock overhanging a cliff and creating a small enclosure. The grotto was discovered in late 1960s and studied by Azerbaijani archaeologists Gardashkhan Aslanov and later Idris Aliyev, who identified here the site of prehistoric human dwellings and cave art.

Engraved on the northern face of the grotto are renderings of humans and bulls. The nature of these paintings is similar to those in Gobustan, and the content suggests cattle grazing and hunting by the prehistoric man living in the area. The most ancient paintings that date back to late Neolithic Period have been discovered in the east of the peninsula.


The photos were made by author (Faig Nasibov, 2006).