28 July 2021

Al Naslaa Rock – Tayma

Near to Tayma lies Al Naslaa rock formation with a perfect slit between the two standing stones and flat faces, all completely natural. It is made up of two sandstone blocks supported by a naturally-formed pedestal with a perfect slit down the middle and while the exact cause of the split has yet to be determined, windblown sand and periodic rain could have created the unusual shape as could a movement of the rock below the large sand stone blocks. To get to the rock is not straight-forward and you need to drive a long way off-road, sometimes through soft sand and a four wheel drive is probably essential to reach it. It is however well worth the effort as it is an amazing rock structure with some excellent petroglyphs including a man leading his horse, camels and several tribal symbols or Wasums depicted on the flat and smooth part of the rock. The panel on the right boulder has a central figure of an Arabian horse, done in the traditional North Arabian style, with a man holding its lead in one hand and an arrow in the other. The horse has a halter depicted on its face, a prominent forelock, probably a clipped mane, and a full tail. The entire body, except for the face, is shaded, which may mean the horse was a solid color naturally. The man seems to be wearing a futah (men’s cloth wrap covering the lower part of the body). This shows Arabian rock art is an important source for learning more about the grooming, training and handling of early Arabian horses with the man in this scene keeping the horse’s head in the right position by holding a lead attached to its halter taut in his left hand. In his right hand he holds an arrow vertically with the tip up. The projectile is out in front of the horse in its line of sight, perhaps to act the way a goad or a modern halter whip gets the horse to focus during training.