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Iran Petroglyphs


Petroglyphs are the most  ancient works of art left by human kind that secretly provide an opening to the past eras of life and help us to discover different aspects of prehistoric lives.

Petroglyphs are of two sorts; Pictographs painted ones are mostly seen inside the caves and caverns, and Petroglyphs that are engravings on the outside walls of caves and rock facades of mountains and valleys. 


Tools to create petroglyphs can be classified by the age and the historical era; they could be flint, thighbone of hunted quarries, or metallic tools.

The oldest Pictographs in Iran are seen  in Yafteh cave in Lorestan that date back 40000 and the oldest petroglyph discovered belongs to Timereh dating back to 40800 years ago.

It should be noted that Iran provides exclusive demonstrations  of script  formation from pictogram,ideogram, linear(2300 BC) or proto Elamite, geometric old Elamite script,Pahlevi script, Arabic script(906 years ago),Kufi script, and Farsi script back to at least 250 years ago.  More than 50000 petroglyphs have been discovered, extended over all Iran’s states.

From 10 years ago I have discovered most of them , including 21000 petroglyphs around Timereh in Khomein and around Golpayegan located in central Iran . I have described the details of these discoveries in 3 books.

           Petroglyphs in Iran also follows the same general categorization:

1-Pictographs that contain pictures drawn by pigments like smut, crystalized blood, ocher, that were employed by binders like animal fats, blood, seed oil and organic compounds  or a mixture of all materials mentioned above. Lorestan has the most and oldest pictographs in Iran. Yafteh cave in Lorestan has pictographs dating back to 40000 years ago.Compared to petroglyphs, pictographs in Iran are scarce and rare.Sites that contain pictographs are listed as follows:

a.      Lorestan state : caves like Hamian1 and Hamian2, Mir Molas around Kuhdasht, Dousheh, and Kalmakareh.

b.      Hormozgan state : Ahu cavern in Bastak

c.       Kerman state:Lashkour Gouyeh in Meymand

d.      Northern Khorasan : Nargeslou cavern around Bojnord


1.      Petroglyph include most discovered items in Iran, extended on states  as follows:

a.      East Azerbayejan: Arasbaran.

b.      West Azerbayejan : Khoreh Hanjeran around Mahabad.

c.       Isfahan : around cities like Golpayegan, Poshtkouh Khowansar, Teeran, Najaf Abad, Damab, Barzak near Kashan, Nashlaj village, Baghbaderan, and Meimeh.

d.      Ardebil: sites around Shahriry, Sheikh Mady, and Ghah Ghahe castle in Meshkin Shahr.

e.      Tehran:Dowlat Abad village near Sharyar, Kaftar lou mountain.

f.        Southern Khorasan:Lakh Mazar of Birjand,  Tengel Ostad, Bijaem, and Nahbandan.

g.      Northern Khorasan:Nargeslou and Jorbat around Bojnord,and Bam Safi Abad near Esferayen.

h.      Khouzestan: Lam Gerdou cavern around Shushtar.

i.        Zanjan:Ejdeha cave near Veer village, around Abhar

j.        Systan and Baluchestan: [caves around]Saravan,Khash, Nikshahr,Nazil,Ghasre Ghand,and Bazman.

k.      Semnan:Chehel Dohktaran E Rashm mountain, near Damghan.

l.        Kerman:Meymand, Shah Firouz near Sirjan, Farash near Jiroft, Sarcheshmeh, and Rafsanjan.

m.    Kurdistan:Dehgolan,Saral,Kancharmi near Bijar, Huraman, and Carafto cave.

n.      Kermanshah:Sorkhe Liziha, Cheshmeh Sohrab near Meravza,Dinevar, Songhor, and Harseen.

o.      Fars: Abadeh, Gheer near Kazeroun.

p.      Ghazvin:Chalalmbar, Yazli Ghelich Kendi, Yeri Jan YazGholi, AhgaGhoy, and Bayan Lou near Boein Zahara.

q.      Lorestan:Moi Malas and Hamian near Kouhdasht, Khomeh near Aligoudarz, Mihad near Borojerd, Dareh Yal near Azna, Yafteh and Dousheh caves.

r.        Mazenderan:Nava summer village around Bala Larijan near Amol.

s.       Markazi:Ebrahim Abad near Arak, Ahmad Abad near Khondab, Farsi Jan, Shazand, Susan Abad near Farahan,Poshtgodar near Mahallat, Sarough, Sarband,Ravanj  near Delijan,Yasavol near Komijan, and 31 sites of Timereh near Khomein.

t.        Hormozgan:Ahu cavern and Dehtol near Bastak

u.       Hamedan :Alvand Shahrestaneh valley, Ganjnameh valley,Mehrabad Noushijaneh near Malayer,Merianj, Nahavand, Ordoshahan mountains

Yazd:Tabas Nahrin valley,Ernan mountain, Hikhteh mountain, Sorkh Dodoushan mountain, Nasrabad village near Taft,Showaz,Ganj valley

The most recent chronology of petroglyphs in Iran was done employing the General Accelerator Spectrometer  in 2008 that helped us gather a relatively notable amount of data from  random samples; though, this is a demanding job that needs a systematic and comprehensive supported effort.

The following table offers the first classification of petroglyphs according to redundancy and frequency


The theme occurance of petroglyphs by random sampling(  percentage )





Ibex, symbolically depicted by a long curved horn that extends to tail.



Human figures as in rituals, roping [cattles] ,using arches on the back of the horses or on-foot , hunting dressed or not and etc…



Cupmarks, codes, scripts, …



Wild or domestic horses, being rode or not, in different postures.



Camels with one or two humps.



Pictographs of cats family like leopards, scaled skin  tigers, male and female lions, dog family like wolves, dogs, foxes. Mice, pigs,…



Deer(Maral,Shooka), antelopes, …



Extincted unrecognizable  animals.



Geometric marks.



Botanic  marks.




One of the characteristics of Iran’s petroglyphs is the continuity of existence of prehistoric marks on the ancient  potteries and bronze sculptures that reveal the impressiveness of petroglyphs of the facades of caves and rocks reflected on ancient work of arts.

This continuity can be traced from eighth millennium BC  by the potteries in Ganj Darreh near Harseen  in Kermanshah state, to  third and first millennium  BC  , considering the  bronze period in Lorestan.

There is a unique similarity between petroglyph marks and prehistoric potteries as if all these works are done by a sole artist.

     Dr.Mohammad Naseri Fard




News ID:125715
Publish Date: Sun, 30 Aug 2015 14:16:16 GMT
Service: Iran


people around the globe.

The Petroglyphs of Teimareh were said to date back to more than 40,000 years in the TV documentary, which helped draw international attention to the region, prompting more global researchers to decipher the images.

In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Dr. Mohammad Naserifard, a university instructor, disclosed further details about the discovery of the petroglyphs and the steps taken to preserve them.

Excerpts of the interview follow:


Dr.Mohamad Naseri Fard

IRAN DAILY: Were you really the first person to discover the petroglyphs in Iran?

NASERIFARD: I was the first one to determine the age of petroglyphs and announce it formally in a TV documentary. However, Morteza Farhadi, social anthropologist, had found pieces of petroglyphs with the help of local people 13 years earlier.

I joined a team of archeologists in 2002 to look for more samples of ancient petroglyphs and register them on the National Heritage List.

We could find an amazing collection of rock arts — about 23,000 pieces — in 31 historical sites. The exact geographical location of the artifacts has been identified by Iranian researchers and we are ready to provide any interested archeologists — both from the country and abroad — with precise information about our findings.

How could you determine the age of artifacts? Has any foreign researcher worked on them?

We have discovered one of the world’s largest collections of petroglyphs, which include rock arts pertaining to different ages. The rich variety of rock arts provides the researcher with an opportunity to gain knowledge about the development of script throughout history.

For example, there are samples dating back to between 250 and 40,800 years ago, which can shed light on the history of pictogram and the emergence of inhabitants in the region who were the first to use alphabets.

The age of rock arts was determined by applying the most modern technology used by researchers across the globe. The percentage of error of the technique is 10 years.

A researcher from Belgium, who had worked on art paintings of ‘Yafteh Cave’ in Lorestan province for years, revealed in an article that “based on evidences gathered from Yafteh Cave in Iran’s Lorestan province, it can no longer be claimed that Africa is the birthplace of human beings”.

Petroglyphs also revealed that the Aryans settled in Iran more than 3,000 years ago, longer than what was thought earlier.

Based on evidences collected from Yafteh Cave and other petroglyphs that were found in Lorestan and Markazi provinces, the theory that Europeans have Asian background is strengthened.

A number of Iranian researchers who worked on the genetic codes of Irish people discovered that Iranian and Irish people have a high rate of genetic commonality — something in the range of 70 percent.

Have the petroglyphs been examined by foreigners?

A number of experts began making statements against such a great historical finding only few years after the discovery of the petroglyphs. They kept claiming that the rock arts are fake. To put such statements to rest, teams of European archeologists were invited to study and examine the rock arts. Eventually, they confirmed the authenticity of the artifacts.

We admit that a number of fake petroglyphs have been created by local shepherds but the fake and authentic can be distinguished using modern technologies.

In addition to carbon dating, which is a reliable test to determine the age of the artifacts, authentic rock arts cover a range of subject matter, which can be distinct from meaningless lines and doodling of local people.

Naturalism, realism and ideogram are the theme of original paintings.

What are the main motifs on the petroglyphs? Have similar samples been discovered in other parts of the world?

Majority of rock arts display images of early human hunters with bows and arrows. The images of animals including wolf, lion, deer, camel, goat, leopard, zebra, partridge and turkey have been seen on the rocks.

Dancing humans, pregnant women and scenes of delivery, pitched battles and heroic wars are among subjects of rock arts.

Similar images, including those of a human with two wings, have been discovered in Yellowstone region in the US. The paintings were created by the Indians thousands of years BCE.

The similarity between the images has urged researchers from France, Turkey and Britain to show interest in coming to Iran.

Recently 80 researchers from Turkey have requested to conduct studies on Iranian rock arts, as rock arts are regarded as valuable objects that provide information about early human beings, their ways of living and their development.

You have put forwarded an idea, which says the petroglyphs have been created by extraterrestrials. How do you explain this?

There is no logical explanation for a number of images engraved on rock of Teimareh. We have encountered amazing images of so-called humans with very big heads, short legs and small bodies — signs which are reminiscent of an astronaut.

Similar samples have been discovered across the globe. Extensive studies are needed to decipher the signs. I have authored a book titled ‘Wonders of Ancient Iran: Iranian Petroglyphs’, which will be published in the near future. Those interested in ancient Iranian rock arts can obtain detailed information in the book.

What measures have been taken to safeguard the petroglyphs?

We have traveled to several countries to learn proper ways to protecting such artifacts, which are at great risk. We have decided to categorize the rock arts according to their themes and then install signboards carrying UNESCO message about the importance of protecting the artifacts.

I have to add that local people have been the main guardians of the rock arts over the past centuries. But such warning signs will increase public awareness about ancient artifacts.

What steps should be taken to turn the site into a tourism destination?

Ancient petroglyphs are among the most important tourism attractions in nations which have them. Kazakhstan has only 719 pieces of petroglyphs, which are not as old as those found in Teimareh. But the country earns an annual $2 billion by displaying its rock arts.

A majority of nations, which are home to ancient petroglyphs, have also established a university called ‘Rock Art University’, which is responsible for publicizing attractions pertaining to rock art.

Years ago, I proposed global registration for 'Mountain Goat', which is an icon on majority of ancient Persian artifacts including pottery works and rocks.

Unfortunately — due to our negligence — Kazakhstan registered the icon and is earning huge sums from it.

Therefore, we need to register ancient Persian signs and icons as well as petroglyphs on the World Heritage List as a prelude to drawing international attention and earning revenues from them.


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Picture Rocks: American Indian Rock Art in the Northeast Woodlands

University Press of New England, 2002 - Social Science - 280 pages

Located along rivers, at the edges of lakes, on mountain boulders, in rock shelters, on rock ledges where the continent meets the ocean, and tucked into parks and public places, American Indian rock art offers tantilizing glimpses of the signs and symbols of a Native American culture.
Picture Rocks documents all known permanent petroglyph and pictograph sites from the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the six New England states, New York, and New Jersey. Some sites are subject to disputes over their origins—Indian or Portuguese? Some are ancient, and others, such as the work of the Mi’kmaq, were executed in the past 200 years. Many of these sites are little known; others, like those at Bellows Falls, Vermont, are sources of great local pride and appear on city walking tours.
Interspersing his own interpretations with comments from scholars and Native American storytellers, Edward J. Lenik provides a definitive look at an extraordinary art form. Two hundred illustrations include historic sketches by early Euro-American colonists, nineteenth-century photographs, and recent photographs and drawings of the current conditions of many sites.

What people are saying

Prehistoric Rock Art in, Iran
Rock Arts and Rock Museums
Prehistoric Rock Art around Khomein (Markazi Prov.); Photographs by Mohammad Nasirifard 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 ago1. Man has not been able to discover such historical phenomena with such an antiquity up to now.


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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 hands, some are also destroyed by careless people or in road-building projects. To reckon the age of Iran's pertroglyps is different from the view points of experts. Some of them believe they are 40000 years old. [1] 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 .
1 The symbolic ibex with big curved horn 88%
2 The paintings of bow man dressed,undressed,on the horse, on foot while hunting 3%
3 Paintings symbolizing power loops, writings and mysterious letters or shapes 2%
4 Paintings of horse-back riders in different positions 2%
5 Paintings of hump-backed camels. 2%
6 Paintings of leopards, wolfs, foxes, rats, etc. 1%
7 Paintings of deer and rams 1%
8 Geometrical paintings. 0.5%
9 Plant painting. 0.5%
The paintings on the walls are interesting for biologists,historians, sociologists, anthropologists, archeologists 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 viewers. By the means, how is it possible for these unlettered men to create such fine arts?
To study pertroglyphs requires a series of modern sciences like anthropology, archeology, history ,symbolism, fine arts, mytheology, chemistry(temperature, moisture, PH)and microerosion 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[1] .

Picture Rocks. American Indian Rock Art in the Northeast Woodlands.  

  Edward J. Lenik.                                                                                                                                 http://www.upne.com/1584651962.html



 1- University Press of New England 

  2002 • 288 pp. 200 illus. 2 tables. 7 x 10"

    Native American Studies / Archaeology / Anthropology / New England -[1]


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سنگ نگاره هاي ايران

زبان مشترك جهاني 

  Iran Petroglyphs ,Universal Common language  
  سنگ نگاره های ایران Iran Petroglyphs - کليه حقوق اين وب سايت محفوظ می باشد