Al Jassasiya Rock Carving

Update from a reader that:

the place is not easily accessible. Pre-permission is required from Archaelogical and Antique Department.

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The Al-Jassasiya site is one of the most mysterious and attractive sites in Qatar. Northeast of Doha, it is one of the few places where you can find petroglyphs, which are collections of rare and amazing signs carved in stone. Carvings can be found at other sites, however those found at Al-Jassasiya are considered the most extraordinary in terms of both their quality and their state of preservation.

An astounding 900 glyphs can be found at Al-Jassasiya. Shapes vary from geometric patterns to representations of animals and boats found on two parallel “jebels,” which are outcrops of fossil and sand dunes.

Seventy-one daisy shaped patterns made up of nine small holes around a larger central hole also exist. Some believe they were used for a game called “ailah,” known as “umm al-judairah” in Kuwait and Bahrain.

The most common outlines are double rows of seven to nine shapes that look like cups (333 in total, 193 with seven cups). These cups are believed to have been used for another game called “haloosa” or “huwaila”. It is known in West Africa as “mandala”.

Similar carved rows dating back to the 15th century BC can be found in the temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt, and others dating back to the 5th century BC can be found in the same place.

The total number of double rows and daisies, combined with the wide range of variations in the size of cups, casts doubt upon their use as game tables and suggests they are more likely to be symbolic representations carved by an old local culture still waiting to be researched.

The most unusual carvings are those of thick-finned fish fossils, boats with numerous oars, scorpions walking on the rocks, donkeys and those depicting the outlines of turtles. In total, these carvings number more than 100.

Mystery surrounds several deep holes that are connected by thin channels through which water can run. It is believed that these designs celebrated the rain, which is, of course, rare and precious in Qatar. There are also a few carvings that appear to be groups of stars connected by lines, representing constellations.

A Danish archaeological mission studied the site in 1961 and at the beginning of the 1970s. Qatari authorities are currently consulting other experts for further interpretations. Many theories exist, but there is very little compelling evidence to determine the dates of origin of these fascinating carvings.

Ruins of old settlements and dwellings containing local and foreign pottery dating back to the 15th century have been uncovered around the outcrops at Al-Jassasiya. Yet the carvings are believed by some to be much older. Others, however, point to the softness of the rocks on the outcrops, which can be eroded quite easily, suggesting that the carvings might be more recent.

Petroglyphs can also be found at Al-Jassasiya, Al-Wakra, Simaisma, Fuwairit, Al-Ghariah, Freha, and Al-Jemail. 

(Source: Heritage of Qatar website)

Fish figure is one of the carvings can be found in Al Jassasiya
Fish figure is one of the carvings can be found in Al Jassasiya
Mancala Boards (two parallel lines of cup-shaped depressions) dominate the 900+ carvings in Al Jassasiya. Did ancient people like to play?
Mancala Boards (two parallel lines of cup-shaped depressions) dominate the 900+ carvings in Al Jassasiya. Did ancient people like to play?
Basin rock carving is thought used for food preparation
Basin rock carving is thought used for food preparation
159 carvings of system of connected holes are found at site
159 carvings of system of connected holes are found at site. Wonder what was it used for?
71 rosettes are found at site. Rosette is a cricle of between 5-9 cup-marks surrounding a single central mark
71 rosettes are found at site. Rosette is a cricle of between 5-9 cup-marks surrounding a single central mark
Is it animal figure?
Is it animal figure?

Direction

Al Jassasiya Coordinate: 25 57’07.7″N 51 24’22.8″E

Take Al Shamal Road towards north. Let’s assume you start at Landmark Mall, drive 64 km along Al Shamal Road, then turn right at the Al Huwaila sign. Follow 8.4 km before you reach an intersection to the left. Turn left for another 3 km until you find chain-link fenced areas on your left. This is the site of the rock carvings. The first outcrop is parallel to the road. The biggest carvings are located beside an old sign you can see from the road. The second group of carvings is further north on the other outcrop, and is accessible through a gate further down the road. Park near fence where you can find gaps to enter.

If you continue driving down this road for another 1.5 km you will find the big building complex by the sea. Continue driving offroad 10km from this building toward North will bring you to Fuwairit beach. However, 4WD is necessary for driving beyond this building to Fuwairit.

Some portions of Al Shamal Road are temporary roads while the main is being upgraded. Seen here dust storm in August 2009
Some portions of Al Shamal Road are temporary roads while the main is being upgraded. Seen here dust storm in August 2009
On your left, the fenced area is Al Jassasiya site
On your left, the fenced area is Al Jassasiya site
Al Jassasiya area; view towards sea. Park you car outside chain-link fence and walk to jebel
Al Jassasiya area; view towards sea. Park you car outside chain-link fence and walk to jebel
Jebel at Al Jassasiya where carvings can be found. The jebel elevation is around 4-6 meter
Jebel at Al Jassasiya where carvings can be found. The jebel elevation is around 4-6 meter
Another view of Al Jassasiya Area
Another view of Al Jassasiya Area
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6 thoughts on “Al Jassasiya Rock Carving”

  1. This place is not accessible now… we need pre permission from the archeological department for access…. I’ve been there last week but couldnt enter there…..

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