08 July 2021

Jabal Manjor - Shuwaymis

Part of a UNESCO listed world heritage site rich in rock art, including figures of men, animals, palm trees and feet impressions, inscribed skilfully in life size shape. Some of these petroglyphs date to 14,000 years BP with life sized camel figures being from the Thamudic period 3000 years BP. Jabals al-Manjor and Raat are rock escarpments of a now sand-covered wadi that is thought to have been a broad valley with flowing water during the early Holocene. Both Jabal al-Manjor and Raat contain a large number of human and animal figures, and other hills and outcrops within the buffer zone feature smaller concentrations. These sandstone exposures occur in a region that has seen numerous volcanic eruptions and lava flows in recent geological history. The large number of petroglyphs and inscriptions at these site complexes has been attributed to almost 10,000 years of human history. As the aquifer subsided, probably around mid-Holocene times, the formerly permanent human population became increasingly transient, but the sites were still visited in recent millennia as indicated by the rock art. The intensive and comprehensive survey of the Jabal al-Manjor and Raat complexes since their recent re-discovery resulted in the location of hundreds of rock art panels, several stone structures and typical stone objects of the Neolithic era 10,000 year BP. The Jabal al-Manjor corpus has been divided into twelve clusters comprising a total of 190 panels of petroglyphs. It additionally includes the sandy valley between the two mountains to emphasise the visual connections between the palaeolake that once existed there and the mountain slopes where the petroglyphs were made. The buffer zone includes the neighbouring mountain to the north where additional habitation sites might be discovered in future. This complex is the most spectacular of the sites of northern Saudi Arabia and more impressive than Jubbah in many ways. Its sites consist of slopes of jumbled, sub-angular boulders, mostly 5–10 metres in size, on which many thousands of petroglyphs occur. The profusely decorated panels on many of these huge boulders are no longer right way up, and as they changed their orientation every time the boulders moved down the slope, differently oriented figures were added. Some of them occur entirely upside-down, and many are truncated by subsequent fractures.