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Musandam Gastropods

Hajar

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#1
No cephalopods seen over the weekend, but there were many of these large gastropods in limestone at an elevation of 1590 m in the beautiful Musandam area of northern Oman. The GoogleEarth image shows the amazing drowned fjord-like topography up here, resulting from the Eurasian Plate overriding the Arabian Plate and the northern tip of Musandam subsiding at something like 6 mm/year. The huge stack of limestones seen in the fjord walls ranges in age from Permian to Cretaceous.
 

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Hajar

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#5
A true observation! It does rain sometimes though and we saw a well with a little village built around it. There was a jumble of rocks covered in ancient petroglyphs just to one side of this well. We also came across a small fertile plateau at about 1150 m nestled in amongst the mountains, quite a surprise!

There must be masses of cephalopods in those limestones, but I didn't notice any.
 

DWhatley

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#6
Did you get photos of the petroglyphs? Could you make any sense out of them or are they more like writing than pictures?
 

Terri

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#8
That is awesome, and what a great education you're giving your children! Do you know the age of the petroglyphs? (I love the way you use your family for scale):heee:
 

DWhatley

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#9
I wonder if that is a recording of what animals were found there for hunters or nomadic tribes. Kind of a map legend in real time.
 

Hajar

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#10
Thanks Terri. I don't know how old these petroglyphs are. Some have an older looking patina than others.

D, the Shihuh who live in this area are nomadic, living in the mountains during winter (when it rains) and down in the coastal settlements in summer. We can only guess at why they made the pictures, but interesting that there's a big cluster of them around a well and another group at a high lookout point (the bottom photo above, which is at a height of about 1600 m).
 

DWhatley

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#11
Somehow I don't think it is graffiti or artwork. Do you have any clue as to the age in a general sense (like within this century where they still would be used)?
 

Hajar

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#12
You've got me browsing for more info now D, which is good.

This looks relevant. It's from just south of Musandam and we drove through here in the way up and stayed the night on the way back. Unfortunately the preview doesn't get as far as telling us dates or interpretations.

They look "old" to me, perhaps hundreds of years, perhaps more than that.

This would be fun to read in its entirety.

OK, this is better and includes interviews with living Shihuh. I'm going to have to read this tomorrow though.

There are also spectacular petroglyphs in the Hajar Mountains, some of which are thought to be thousands of years old.

We have strayed from molluscs!
 

Hajar

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#14
So, I found an article called "Sacred places in ancient Oman" by Julian Reade. He writes "Pecked figures of wild animals, especially those positioned in or near gorges, could have been ritually associated with hunting and traps, just as some of the anthropomorphic figures recorded in rock art could have been divine rather than human." He mentions that some styles could be dated to the late third or early second millenium BC "and the origins of rock art are likely to go much further back in time."

Another paper shows stylised animals and people associated with some Arabic script "reputed to be about 500 years old."

I've attached a photo of part of Hasat bin Salt, a decorated boulder on the south side of the western Hajar Mountains. There's been lots of speculation about this one: "Does it depict a myth or a ceremony or is itself part of a myth or a ceremony?" "The likely explanation is indeed that the figures are godesses and gods, worshipped at this spot." There are other local legends about this rock though, one being that when a child was born deformed its parents hurled it at the rock, killing it, whereupon they were all three turned to stone.

Now we are very far from molluscs!
 

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Hajar

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#16
Brilliant! Of course! It's true as well and there are shell middens along the coast (something I'm familiar with from the coast of southern South America).
 

DWhatley

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#17
Beat me to it Terri :wink: It seems the new rock with the cephalopod eating gods is more art where the original looks like a utilitarian map key/legend.
 

DWhatley

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#18
Non-Ceph - Reef conservation in Oman

Hajar,
Not to make you homesick (assuming you are still in the US) I do a little web and administrative work for the Coral Restoration Foundation and this video and related links were posted about Oman on their Facebook page today:

Sports Diving Magazine - Reef Research - MMusandam, Oman

 

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