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Prehistoric Rock Art in Iran

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Prehistoric Rock Art in Iran

Rock Arts and Rock Museums

Rock arts or petroglyphs are the oldest historical traces left behind from the ancient men. In other words, these rock arts vividly represent the very basis of the creation of secret writing systems, how to convey messages, the origin of language, history, myths and human cultures. The number of these arts amounts to twenty one thousand in the region of Khomein, some of them dated at about 4000 years ago. Man has not been able to discover such historical phenomena with such an antiquity up to now.

What is a rock art or a petroglyph?

Simply stated, this art refers to any paintings on carvings or rocks. If those writings or painting on rocks are painted, they will be described as pictographs, and if these picture or writings are engraved or carved into the stones, they are known as petrographs or petroglyphs (in positive carvings a picture is chipped out of rock and in negative carvings, a picture is carved in rocks).Most often, pictographs are seen in the old caves, which are all of a short life due to natural forces and their existence for a long time is because of the fact that they have been preserved against such forces. But petroglyphs are also seen both in the caves and in the open-air places.
A large number of petroglyphs in the open-air have been destroyed and will be destroyed by heat, cold, wind, rain and freezing. Unfortunately, on the other hand, some are also destroyed by careless people or in road-building projects. To reckon the age of Iran's petroglyphs is different from the view points of experts. Some of them believe they are 40000 years old. These reckonings have been conducted comparatively and not made on the basis of "micro erosion analysis".

The percentage of Iran's petroglyphs, using random sampling.
The symbolic ibex with big curved horn

The paintings of bow man dressed,undressed,on the horse, on foot while hunting

Paintings symbolizing power loops, writings and mysterious letters or shapes

Paintings of horse-back riders in different positions

Paintings of hump-backed camels.

Paintings of leopards, wolfs, foxes, rats, etc.

Paintings of deer and rams

Geometrical paintings.

Plant painting.

The paintings on the walls are interesting for biologists, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, archaeologists and mythologists; they are remarkable to those studying cultures and languages , historical arts and decorations. The reason why 90% of paintings on the stones are ibexes, indicates the beliefs of the ancient Iranians, their, religion, their culture and their folklore in thousands of years ago. These areas, with the paintings stated here in, are really Rock Museums and Rock Arts influencing every viewer. By the means, how is it possible for these unlettered men to create such fine arts?
To study petroglyphs requires a series of modern sciences like anthropology, archeology, history, symbolism, fine arts, mythology, chemistry (temperature, moisture, PH) and micro-erosion analysis, etc. A science can't study them on its own. To understand them, all the sciences and all the authorities in different fields must be involved systematically. To locate these petroglyphs in Iran is the first step to study and introduce these historical and national symbols. Many nations and countries spend a lot of money on their annual tours to watch these petroglyphs and some countries, while issuing their cultures, gain a lot of money from this industry compared to their earnings from the oil wells. In a very near future, we necessarily introduce these historical values to all of the experts and those interested in conducting a research in to them. Rock art is an example of universal arts, which is the oldest one among the others in the world. This art is the most outstanding imaginative art, since it is one of the most common methods to convey cultural messages and it also illustrates our father's aesthetics and their artistic tastes in the world. Our ancestors carved their ideas, their beliefs and their mascots on the walls of their dwelling places or on the pots and other appliances (like potteries ,petroglyphs). Those pictures and paintings render different messages in the from of carvings or skillful paintings in such a way that they speak with the related artists and experts and they enjoy them these artistic innovations have already existed in most of the countries, for example, the ibex paintings are seen in different countries, such as Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, the republic of Azarbayjan, Turkey, Kerkizestan, Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even in Arizona and California in the U.S.A. Despite their differences in designing, they all have something in common: Rock Arts and Rock Messages. When we ponder over the world's petroglyphs, we will observe some differences in Iran's petroglyphs from the others. For example, some of the Iran's petroglyphs share a common message with paintings on the potteries belonging to our prehistoric ancestors. About 90% of Iran's petroglyphs include an ibex with a symbolic long horn conveying the message of rain, water, abundance, moon guardianship guard and savior of policies. This common communicative message on the potteries has remained from the ancient ages. The paintings of ibex on the potteries and hard rocks are really captivating. How artistic and innovative they are! They can't be found, except for some in the neighboring countries. More specifically, the carvings on the stone walls of the mountains and those on the pots are closely related to the ancient stories and myths of Persia. The antiquity and types of petroglyphs in Iran are varied.Where ever there exists life, there exist some artistic works by them (i.e. discovered potteries sand petroglyphs). These works symbolize their way of living and their strong emotions toward cultural phenomena. It is noticeable that our ancestors will talk with these simple symbols; they have been left behind as long as life continues. It indicates the magnitude of the nations and the time can't ignore them. The output of humans' lives and their magnitude is their works and their innovations? Something that was done successfully by our ancestors. By the means, what do we leave behind for the next generation?

All of the human beings, apart from the influence of their sovereignty or ideologies and on the basis of their divine nature think alike, though they live far apart and live at different times (with a length of thousand years ago). It is the principle against which time and place can't work. There are many interesting and extraordinary works of this type found in Iran:
Birjand (Lakh mazar), Khorasan (Nehbandan); Yazd (Arnan), Sistan and Baluchistan (Nikshahr and Saravan), Isfahan (Gharghab and Kucherey in Golpaygan and Vist in Khansar), Lorestan (Homiyan in Kuhdasht, Khommeh in Aligudars, Mihad in Boruherd), Arak (Ibrahim Abad, Yasavel in Komijan, Ahmadabad in Khondab and Khomein), Hamadan (Darre Shahrestaneh Alvand, Darreh Ganjnameh, Mehrabad and Khoshijan in Malayer), Aras (baran), Kurdistan (Dehgolan and Saral),Tehran (Dowlatabad village, Sharyar ,Kuhe Kaftarlu) and Qum (Kahak).
The principal goal to accomplish here in is to introduce and study the engraved paintings which are mostly discovered in the mountainous areas, valleys, river banks, on cliffs and natural shelters from different periods and times; these paintings mainly include the paintings of men and animals in different phases. These petroglyphs also include symbolic paintings in different separate collections in different regions. The dispersion of these collections are not restricted to Iran's regions because the similar samples to these petroglyphs with similar contents to those found in Asian countries (the Republics of Armenia, Gurjistan, Azarbayjan, Pakistan and Afghanistan), Europe, Central and Northern America, Africa and Australia)are also found in these countries. They can provide us with certain information about the existence of a close cultural relations among these countries.

The fundamental hypothesis in this research arises from the amazing and meaningful similarities of the contents used in these petroglyphs throughout the world.The eye-catching petroglyphs of humans and animals throughout Iran and the related symbols and their similarities to those found in the neighboring countries and the others help us a lot to study and estimate the cultural domains of the ancient nations in different periods of time.
To writer, the outcome derived from the study of petroglyphs in Iran and other countries contains a clear message: the existence of a procedure unity in humans evolution in the past, through which man has passed consciously or unconsciously.
It is hoped that today we, like our ancestors creating delicate arts on stones in different parts of the world, away from any races and cultures or geographical borders, carve the art of loving into our hearts. It is also hoped that researchers and scholars understand the hidden messages in the rock arts and benefit from these messages to create cultural solidarity and compromise among different nations of the world (for further information see "Rock museums - Rock Arts (Iran petroglyphs)
Yours respectfully

Nasseri Fard,

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