About specifics of rock art of Gobustan and some innovative approaches to its interpretation (“Firuz 2” shelter)

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The petroglyphs of Gobustan are an important historical source that allows us to get an idea about the material and spiritual culture of the population inhabiting the region in various historical periods. The analysis of the specific features of the creative process let us imagine how the ancient artists of Gobustan conveyed some aspects of their creative perception and specifics of their world view. In this respect, the “Firuz 2” shelter on Kichikdash Mountain in Gobustan is of special interest. “Firuz 2” lies at the foot of a vertically standing boulder oriented N-S. (stone №19). The archaeological site is located at the western side of this stone covered with petroglyphs. On this surface numerous female figures, images of hunters, animals and boats are fixed. Visual domination of images of female figures and boats make a uniform semantic plot. It should be noted that from Mesolithic and Neolithic occupation layers of Gobustan separate stones on which female figures near boats are also represented are found. It is quite possible that this composition is characteristic to this period. Images of female figures on stone №19 stylistically differ from each other and some of them are executed in profile with prominent bellies. Besides these, images of animals (aurochs, wild boars, onagers, gazelles, bezoar goats) were depicted on stone №19. Under the stone and on the north side, there is a strip of rocky blocks lying deep in the soil. On one of these rocks (stone 19-a), split in two parts, images of boats were recorded. The stone was found in the Neolithic layer. Images of boats of this kind are also registered on stone №19. On three of them the symbol of the sun is represented on the bow. In the Caucasian region, images of boats are only met in Gobustan rock art. Considering attentively these images of boats, can be supposed that they belong to the Neolithic period of Gobustan culture and existed throughout millennia. In order to get some chronological control, various methods were combined: analogies with stones found in cultural layers and bearing similar images, study of the stylistic features and the stratigraphic method. AMS dating of the cultural layers of the “Firuz 2” site allowed to understand the variability in the form and meaning of the petroglyphs of various periods. Previously, artifacts from the cultural layer of “Firuz 2” site had been dated to the end of Mesolithic and beginning of Neolithic period. The last AMS dating provided the result: 7850 ± 30 BP, which led to suppose that Gobustan was the earliest center in which navigation emerged in the Caucasian region.

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