Jebel Jassassiyeh

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Plan drawings of a boat with oars
Plan drawings of a boat with oars
View to the east from Jebel Jassassiyeh
Dot carvings
Green area behind Jebel Jassassiyeh

Jebel Jassassiyeh is an area with early petroglyphs, residential ruins and pottery remnants (from the 15th century) in northeast Qatar. The carvings, in fossil sand dunes ("jebels"), include geometric shapes, animals and ship shapes, it is Qatar's most extensive rock art site with more than 900 carvings scattered over 580 numbered sites.[1] They are similar to those found at the temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt, the area also has ruined dwellings and remains of pottery from the 15th century.[2]

A large percentage of its coastal area is dotted with rocky hills, as hinted by its name,[3] it is promoted as an important tourist attraction by the Qatar Tourism Authority.[4]

Area overview[edit]

Jebel Jassassiyeh is in the northeast section of Qatar, around 3 miles south of Fuwayrit. Nearby settlements include Safiyaa Fuwairit, Al Marrawnah, and Al Huwailah,[5] it consists of many prominent limestone jebels (sand dune) situated near the coastline. On average, the jebels are no more than 7 metres tall with a central ridge approximately 600 metres in length, rendering the assemblage of jebels one of the largest in the northeast peninsula.[1]


The carvings were first discovered by a Danish archaeological team led by Holger Kapel in 1961.[6] Holger's son, Hans Kapel, surveyed and recorded the carvings in the 1974, he concluded that there were approximately 900 carvings of various types.[1]

Cup and ring marks are the most common forms of art among the carvings.[7][8] Different animals are also depicted, including ostriches, turtles and fish. Jebel Jassassiyeh is the only rock art site in Qatar where boat depictions have been recorded.[9]

Boat carvings[edit]

Two main categories, based on carving method and rendition, are used to classify the boat carvings, the first category, which accounts for 124 of the carvings, are drawn in plan. The second category accounts for only 17 of the boat carvings and consists of elevation drawings. Plan drawings are mainly found along the central ridge, whereas the elevation drawings are primarily found on the outcrops closer to the sea.[1]

The boats are of different sizes and types, and some contain oars while others do not.[10] Two main types of dhows are included in elevation drawings: battils and baqarahs. Archaeologist William Facey has inferred that some of the elevation drawings are meant to represent pearling crafts due to the prominence of the boats' oars,[11] because the battils and baqarahs contained rudders, he concludes that the elevation drawings could not have been carved earlier than 1000–1200 AD.[12]

In later carvings, the boats appeared with sails; in some of the rock carvings, sails appear without boats. Some of the ancient carvings were modified at later periods, with devices such as ropes and anchors being added.[13][14]

The earliest date of origin for the carvings is inconclusive.[13][15] Archaeologist Muhammad Abdul Nayeem (1998) tentatively dated the earliest of the carvings to the third century BC,[16] whereas William Facey (1987) dated the earliest plan and elevation drawings to the tenth century AD.[12] A study conducted in 2012 which tested nine samples of carvings, including boat carvings, concluded that the oldest of the samples had a minimum age of less than 300 years, the study found no evidence to support the view of the carvings dating back millenniums.[5]


Jebel Jassassiyeh is thought to have been inhabited prior to the 18th century, the area's close proximity to the sea would have allowed for easy access for boats. The area contains clean groundwater which is close to the surface and there are several wells in the vicinity.[17] Beatrice De Cardi's archaeological team reported in 1974 the presence of two habitation mounds and several potsherds dating to various periods, with the earliest recorded potsherds dating to the 10th or 11th century AD.[17] William Facey notes the close proximity (4 miles) of Jebel Jassassiyeh to Al Huwailah, Qatar's largest town before the ascendance of Zubarah in the 18th century,[17] he has speculated that the area could have functioned as a lookout post and restocking station for incoming pearling boats.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d William Facey (1987). "The boat carvings at Jabal Al-Jussasiyah, northeast Qatar". Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. 17: 199 of 222. JSTOR 41223055.
  2. ^ "Places of Interest and Tourist Attractions in Qatar". Angloinfo. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Tourism". Embassy of Bangladesh in Doha, Qatar. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Al Jassasiya rock carvings". Qatar Tourism Authority. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b Raid Hassiba, Gerald Benjamin Cieslinski, Brandon Chance, Faisal Abdulla Al-Naimi, Michael Pilant, and Marvin W. Rowe (2012). "Determining the age of Qatari Jabal Jassasiyah Petroglyphs". QScience Connect. 4. doi:10.5339/connect.2012.4.
  6. ^ Abdul Nayeem (1998), p. 221
  7. ^ Abdul Nayeem (1998), p. 220
  8. ^ Bibby, Geoffrey (1965). "Arabian Gulf archaeology". Kuml: 104.
  9. ^ Abdul Nayeem (1998), p. 234
  10. ^ Abdul Nayeem (1998), p. 233
  11. ^ William Facey (1987). "The boat carvings at Jabal Al-Jussasiyah, northeast Qatar". Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. 17: 200 of 222. JSTOR 41223055.
  12. ^ a b William Facey (1987). "The boat carvings at Jabal Al-Jussasiyah, northeast Qatar". Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. 17: 201 of 222. JSTOR 41223055. The battil and baqqarah at Jabal al-Jussasiyah cannot therefore be earlier than 1000–1200 AD.
  13. ^ a b Abdul Nayeem (1998), p. 243
  14. ^ De Cardi, Beatrice (1978). Qatar Archaeological Report. Excavations 1973. Oxford University Press. p. 190. ISBN 9780199200788.
  15. ^ Arryan, Hans Kapel (1983). "Rock carvings at Jabel Jusasiyah, Qatar". Qatar National Museum Journal.
  16. ^ Abdul Nayeem (1998), p. 244
  17. ^ a b c William Facey (1987). "The boat carvings at Jabal Al-Jussasiyah, northeast Qatar". Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. 17: 203 of 222. JSTOR 41223055.
  18. ^ William Facey (1987). "The boat carvings at Jabal Al-Jussasiyah, northeast Qatar". Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. 17: 205 of 222. JSTOR 41223055.


  • Abdul Nayeem, Muhammad (1998). Qatar Prehistory and Protohistory from the Most Ancient Times (Ca. 1,000,000 to End of B.C. Era). Hyderabad Publishers. ISBN 9788185492049.