Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape covers three areas of a plateau of rocky boulders rising out of the semi-desert of central Azerbaijan, with an outstanding collection of more than 6,000 rock engravings bearing testimony to 40,000 years of rock art. The site also features the remains of inhabited caves, settlements and burials, all reflecting an intensive human use by the inhabitants of the area during the wet period that followed the last Ice Age, from the Upper Paleolithic to the Middle Ages. The site, which covers an area of 537 ha, is part of the larger protected Gobustan Reservation.
Boyukdash Mountain, upper terrace, Ana-zaqa cave
© Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan
Outstanding Universal Value
Gobustan has outstanding universal value for the quality and density of its rock art engravings, for the substantial evidence the collection of rock art images presents for hunting, fauna, flora and lifestyles in pre-historic times and for the cultural continuity between prehistoric and mediaeval times that the site reflects.
Criterion (iii): The rock engravings are an exceptional testimony to a way of life that has disappeared in the way they represent so graphically activities connected with hunting and fishing at a time when the climate and vegetation of the area were warmer and wetter than today.
The most remote and undisturbed landscapes are the Jinghirdag Moutain-Yazylytepe hill and Kichikdash Mountain. These areas need to be fully protected in order to ensure they keep their authenticity. The most visited site, Boyukdash, has more disturbances in the form of installations such as a prison and stone quarry, which should be managed as part of the Management Plan.
The knowledge of the site does not extend evenly across the whole rock art reservation. It would be desirable for a large-scale survey of the wider environment to be carried out to ensure the extent of protection needed to ensure the overall integrity of the rock art corpus.
The legal protective measures for the property are adequate. There is a need to complete the documentation, put in place active conservation measures and improve the technical competence of staff to carry out necessary urgent conservation work.
Initial discoveries were made in 1939-40 and systematic explorations were conducted by I. M. Djafarsade from 1947 onwards. He recorded and analysed more than 3,500 images on 750 rocks. This early inventory was expanded by R. Djafarguly who made further discoveries and carried out excavations.
Since 1965, excavations have been carried out in more than 20 prehistoric sites and numerous Bronze Age structures have been discovered. Excavations carried out by D. Rustamov of one cave uncovered a 2 m stratigraphy covering 10,000 years. This material included a fallen engraved fragment that gave a terminus ante quem for this anthropomorphic figure - although no further details are given.
In 1966 the property was protected as a state Historical-Artistic Reservation as part of the wider Gobustan rock art reservation. Source: Advisory Body Evaluation