Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rain & Glyphs

It finally rained! On Friday a few rainclouds went over the country and gave it the first decent rain since January. It was maybe 1 cm max but it was nice to have a bit of rain hit your face. Now I just have to get my car cleaned again -- the raindrops pick up the dust in the air so when it dries your car is all dusty. The air is clearer though.

This Friday I went out with the Qatar Natural History Group to see a group of petroglyphs in the north of the country at Jabal al Jassassiya. The glyphs had always been mentioned in tourist guides but I've been here almost three years and never went out to see them so I did not want to miss the field trip.

The glyphs are a number of carvings, date unknown, made into the limestone rocks. When they were first discovered back in the 60s there were over 900 of them, but for some inexplicable reason a company started blowing up the limestone mounds as part of a quarry. Now about half of the glyphs are gone but thankfully I do not believe there are any plans to blow up the rest.

The carvings are mostly on the ground rather than on vertical surfaces and most of the carvings are of two themes -- boats shown from above, and a series of dots, usually 7x2 (like this ::::::: ). What the dots represent no one is quite sure of, there is some speculation it was for a game as the placement and spacing of the dots is similar to an African game. Others have pointed out that some of the series of dots are carved in the angles of the rock that would make them useless for holding counters. Because they cannot be dated, and no archaeological expedition has been undertaken to try to see if there was a nearby village or settlement, the origins of the carvings remain a mystery.

They were interesting to see as they were a lot bigger than I thought, some of them were over a foot long so would have taken a bit of effort to carve. Tonight I'll attach a couple of pictures that I took of the glyphs, hopefully you can see them and not a big red X.

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