Qobustan Petroglyph Reserve

Archaeological Site in Qobustan

The Unesco-listed Qobustan Petroglyph Reserve protects thousands of stick-figure stone engravings dating back up to 12,000 years. Themes include livestock, wild animals and shamen. They were carved into what were probably caves but over time have crumbled into a craggy chaos of boulders.

A visit starts 3km west of Qobustan at a state-of-the-art new museum, which gives context to what you will see on the mountain ridge 2km above. English-speaking staff offer guided tours to assist you spotting and deciphering the petroglyphs. But alone you'll still be able to spot the key scratchings. Don’t miss the spindly reed boat sailing towards the sunset. Comparing this with similar ancient designs in Norway led controversial ethnologist Thor Heyerdahl to suggest that Scandinavians might have originated in what is now Azerbaijan.

Even if you have no particular interest in ancient doodles, Qobustan’s eerie landscape and the hilltop views towards distant oil-workings in the turquoise-blue Caspian are still fascinating.