Rock drawings may look like a child’s art to some but they actually help scientists and experts understand what life was like in the past. The Wilayat of Al Awabi in the Governorate of South Al Batinah has been home to some of these important historical drawings.
Located between the interior and the coastal regions, the drawings in Al Awabi date back to distant times, a document-of-sort to the important events that took place. These rock drawings and writings serve as a cultural archive and a source of ancient Omani history.
Researcher Engineer Harith al Kharousi said: “We can trace the history of rock drawings and writings in the Wilayat of Al Awabi at the beginning of human existence, where the ancient man-made these drawings and writings that document their life and beliefs. Some of these drawings date back to thirty thousand years, and this date can be inferred by comparing the style of drawings with other similar styles in the world and the Arabian Peninsula in particular.”
Al Kharousia added that the period of rock writings began to increase with the end of the last ice age (about 11,000 years ago) when a suitable climate prevailed for the flourishing of life and the abundance of fruits and game, and consequently the increase in the number of people and their activity. A human cultural wave prevailed and these humans started to think about the universe and worship. It is during this time when knowledge flourished and with it, the emergence of human settlements and the transformation of man to agriculture and stability. This is evidenced by the widespread inscriptions and drawings of ancient sacred creatures such as caribou, bull and sun.
The early humans documented their lives by painting stories that represent heroism such as battle scenes. These drawings, together with the discovery of prehistoric man-made tools created a better understanding of the era where hunting and war was part of their early struggle.
In Oman, some pictures depicted the prehistoric Omani man’s use of the war-barrel tool in hunting and war, which is a tube of wood that is placed inside a projectile and released by blowing. This tool is still used in a number of remote areas in the world such as forests Amazon, Africa, Sumatra and Australia.
Al Kharousi explained that after man invented the letter (a symbol that represents a specific sound), he began translating his feelings and thoughts on the rocks, like the modern man who writes his thoughts in a newspaper or modern means of communication, and with the arrival of the current Arabic letter to Oman and the Islamic religion, a qualitative and quantitative leap appeared in the rock writings.
He pointed out that specialized families appeared documenting things on a variety of topics. For example, we find, Shadhan bin Malik writes some sentences in the year (399) AH about the village of Stal, and Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Saali writes some sentences in the year (302) AH about al Hajir, and the topics were varied including cultural topics such as verses of poetry and governance, social and political topics.
Perhaps the most important political writings are what was written in Al Jalia Cave in the village of Al-Hajir about the Imamate contract of Imam Al-Khalil bin Shadhan in the fifth century AH. It is mentioned that coins were found in the Wilayat of Bahla belonging to the aforementioned Imam. There are also topics related to the weather, such as what Imam Mani’ bin Ali bin Muhammad bin Ismail wrote in the village of Stal on Friday 29 Sha’ban in the year (970) AH. He chronicled a massive flood that destroyed fifty houses and the uprooting of five hundred palm trees in the village of Stal. He mentions that the poet Ibn Shawwal al Husayni al Kidhawi chronicled the same event in one of his poems, and the writer also mentions that Mani’ bin Ali bin Muhammad bin Ismail was held for the Imamate in Nizwa in the year (982) AH.
He said that there are - in Wadi Bani Kharus - several writings that chronicle important economic events such as the reclamation of several agricultural lands in the village of Al-Alia during the era of the Yarubi Imamate, as well as the important writings inscribed by Sheikh Muhammad bin Khamis bin Mubarak Al Kharusi, the older brother of Sheikh Ja`id bin Khamis Al Kharusi, who recorded the occurrence of date palm lesion caused by the dubas palm bug and that he sold the date crop in that year for a thousand toman (currency), which is an indication of the movement of economic activity in that period. Sheikh Muhammad bin Khamis bin Mubarak Al Kharusi had many inscriptions on the rocks, the most prominent of which was what he wrote about Al Awabi on the news of the establishment of the falaj and the re-planning and implementation of the Aflaj, where he indicated that the giant project began with a dream that he determined to achieve it. the falaj is still standing and is the largest in the wilayat.
Engineer Al Kharusi said “The human path must be chronicled, and those who chronicled that human path through time in drawing and writing are true historians. Without them, we would not have known the ancient past.
The human heritage is a source of pride for the younger generations and a human cultural potential that must be exploited optimally through cultural and tourism investment.