Rocks with stories to tell
Photo essay: Petroglyphs of Torghabeh
by shahireh sharif 15-Dec-2008
Torghabeh, a small town in Iran's Khorasan Province is one of the popular local picnic areas.
This is where we used to go in order to escape the heat of summer days. I recall visiting the popular gardens in this region; enjoying leaning back against the big cushions (پشتی) and looking at the sunlight through the branches of the sycamore trees surrounding us. For grownups eating kebabs and resting for a while (خواب بعد از ظهر) before ordering their afternoon tea (چای قند پهلو) was the best that this place could offer. But, I thought the traditional ice cream was even better. It came in three layers (chocolate, vanilla and saffron) with fragments of cream and pistachio that gave it its distinctive crunch. The ice cream came pressed between two sheets of wafer, and all together they were the building blocks of happiness!
I often considered myself an expert when it came to Torghabeh; but recently a photograph of a petroglyph (primitive rock carvings) on a rock made me realize that I hardly knew the place. I felt a strong desire to see these carvings for myself. I contacted Mahdi Golkar (the photographer
) who kindly offered to take us to the site. A group was assembled and we were taken to this mysterious place that was unknown to our entire group; despite the fact that some members of were living locally.
It had an amazing view; hills set in rich, open landscapes. Rocks painted with interesting shapes and symbols were scattered around the area. The presence of a soothing silence and clean air was undeniable. We heard a short history of the place as we moved from one hill to the next following the group leader (MG). I couldn’t help noticing MG’s love and pride for his homeland. Unfortunately despite the locals’ efforts to protect the rocks, there were signs of vandalism. In places the rocks were damaged or the carvings on them were cut off and stolen!
I cannot confirm exactly how old these inscriptions are or if they are genuine artefacts. Apparently, an official party visited the area to investigate, but nothing came out of their research. Whatever the drawings are or how old they are, two things are for sure: the area worth a visit and without people like MG these rocks would have been disappeared long ago.
By the end of our adventure, the traditional ice cream had found a new rival! Now Torghabeh is the land of the amazing rocks with potential historical value, but it happens to have fantastic ice cream, too!
-- See my photos on Flickr