Cliffs, Carvings and Islands

Other sites to explore

As well as Qatar's ancient settlements, towers and forts, there are other unique and interesting sites to marvel and explore.

From rock carvings to islands that were first visited hundreds of years ago, we encourage you to visit these interesting places that tell a story of Qatar's past.

Ras Brouq's White Cliffs

Ras Brouq – a peninsula located on the west coast – bears the remains of prehistoric human occupation. This part of Qatar never had permanent housing, but semi-nomadic tribes did once inhabit the area. So far a large number of archaeological sites from prehistoric periods have been discovered here including examples of the flint tools they used for hunting. The pristine environment of the peninsula allows scholars to intensify their research on this particular period of Qatar’s history.

The area stands out due to its unusual landscape of white cliffs. The form and colour of the landscape a result of the erosion of soft limestone layers, whilst the wind shaped white cliffs and bizarre geological forms, like mushroom-shaped hills, make the area unique and special to Qatar. Besides their geological beauty, these iconic rock formations offer a real life experience of a prehistoric landscape.

Al Jassasiya Rock Carvings

Al Jassasiya is the most impressive of a dozen rock-carving sites in Qatar. Rock carvings, known as ‘petroglyphs’, can be found along the coast of Qatar as well as on Bahrain's nearby Al Hawar Island.

The site was first discovered in 1957, and then thoroughly studied in 1974, when 874 limestone carved single figures and compositions were catalogued. They consist mainly of cup marks in various arrangements, including rows, rosettes and stars, but also of carvings such as boats, footprints and enigmatic symbols and signs. It’s believed that the cup marks were used for playing ancient board games, such as ‘mancala’, known as Al Haloosa or Al Huwaila in Qatar.

 

Petroglyphs found at Al Jassasiya
Petroglyphs found at Al Jassasiya

Jazirat Bin Ghannam

Jazirat Bin Ghannam on the east coast of Qatar sits in a sheltered location inside Khor Al Shaqiq Bay.  The island was probably never permanently inhabited but visited for specific reasons at different periods. It was a place of transit, a temporary campsite for trade with Bahrain and was used by fishermen or pearl divers as early as the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE. Later though, the island was a production site for red-purple dye from shellfish during the Kassite Period. It was a camp for pearling expeditions during the Sassanian Period, and a fishing outpost in the Late Islamic Period.

Excavations have revealed a midden (shell heap) containing the remains of around 2.9 million individual crushed shells of the sea snail thais savignyi, along with large ceramic vats that were probably used to macerate the crushed molluscs. This type of shellfish lives under rock in the intertidal basin and produces a red to dark-red dye.

The island is worth exploring for its natural heritage, including mangroves in shallow lagoons, small fish and crabs, and a number of migratory birds like flamingos and herons  that travel to the island during the winter months.

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