Bulletin 31 - March 1987: Rock Engravings in the UAE and Musandam Peninsula

Rock Engravings in the UAE and Musandam Peninsula

by David White-Cooper*

It is seldom possible to accurately date rock engravings but a general idea may be gained from the subject and the degree of weathering that has occurred to the picture.

The earliest engravings seen by the author were in the Hatta area where crude geometric designs may occasionally be found on smooth gabbro boulders. The surface engraved has normally developed a desert bloom of iron and manganese similar to the rock itself, indicating thousands of years of exposure. The most elaborate of these is depicted below. None of the following diagrams or photographs is to scale.

The only wild animals depicted were those found at Qarn bint Saud in caves in the hill. These pictures include one of an Oryx but most are in too poor a state of preservation for straightforward identification. Some may be of cattle.

An interesting group of engravings is located just inland of the Khor Fakkan Crushing Company Quarry in the wadi above Khor Fakkan. These are all of men on horseback and may date from the time of the early Islamic battles in the area.

However, the most prolific area is in the fields and graveyards of the village of Agebat Oso in the Musandam, at the top of the military road that winds through the Wadi Khabb Shamsi north of Dibba. Most engravings are on gravestones. Islamic graves are not marked by decoration, the inference being that the people of Agebat, members of the Shihuh tribe, predate the Islamic conquest of around 630 A. D. Some of the work is probably much more recent, perhaps even twentieth century.



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