Rock art in Iran includes archaeological petroglyphs, or carving in rock; pictographs, or painting on rock; and rock reliefs. Large numbers of prehistoric rock art, more than 50,000, have been discovered in Iran.
Dating back to 7000 years before present in Iran, rock art is the oldest surviving artwork. Prehistoric rock art provides insights into past eras and cultures. Archaeologists classify the tools for carving petroglyphs by their historical era. Incising tools include flint, metal, or thigh bones of hunted prey.
The earliest known petroglyphs are in Teimareh or Teymareh (near Golpayegan County) dating back to 7000 years ago. The earliest known pictographs in Iran are in Yafteh cave (near Sorkheh Lizeh in Lorestan Province) and date back 40,000 years. Golpayegan is the central region of Teimareh (Teymareh) petroglyphs. Ancient Iranian pottery and bronze sculpture continue designs found in the rock art. This continuity suggests the impressiveness of petroglyphs of the facades of caves and rocks reflected to ancient Iranian artisans. This continuity can be traced from eighth millennium BC by the potteries in Ganj Dareh (near Qeysvand, Harsin in Kermanshah Province), to the third and first millennium BC, considering the bronze period in Lorestan.
Iran provides exclusive demonstrations of script formation from pictogram, ideogram, linear (2300 BC) or proto-Elamite, geometric old Elamite script, Pahlavi script, Arabic script (906 years ago), Kufi script, and Persian script back to at least 250 years ago.
The most recent chronology of petroglyphs in Iran was done employing the General Antiparticle Spectrometer in 2008 that helped gather data from random samples; though, this is a demanding job that needs a systematic and comprehensive supported effort.
Pictographs that contain pictures drawn by pigments like smut, crystallized blood, ochre, 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 40,000 years ago.Compared to petroglyphs, pictographs in Iran are scarce and rare.
The ibex, a type of goat with prominent, curved horns, is the most common image depicted in rock art. Human figures are portrayed dressed and undressed, performing rituals, roping cattle, walking on foot,riding horses, and hunting.
Sites that contain pictographs are listed as follows.
Petroglyphs include most discovered items in Iran, extended on states as follows:
The following table offers the first classification of petroglyphs according to redundancy and frequency.
|The theme occurrence of petroglyphs by random sampling (percentage)|
|88%||Ibex, symbolically depicted by a long curved horn that extends to tail||1|
|2%||Cupmarks, codes, scripts||3|
|2%||Wild or domestic horses||4|
|1%||Camels with one or two humps. Birds.||5|
|1%||Felines, canines, mice, pigs, and similar animals||6|
|1%||Deer (Maral, Shooka) and antelopes||7|