The most likely origin for Jean's version of the Sharamudoi boats is in Azerbaijan, on the ancient shores of the highly expanded Caspian Sea. At that time, (? 10 000 - 8000 years ago ?) the greatly expanded Caspian and Black Sea were joined by a wide strait.
Since the area is today very flat, it is likely that the shores would have provided an ideal area for the growth of huge areas of reeds, ideal for boat building.
At a site dated to around 5000 - 8000 years BP, at a place called Gobustan, there are paintings or etchings (petroglyphs) of what appear to be long boats on the style of the Viking ships of more recent times. Thor Heyerdahl is convinced that people from the area went to Scandinavia in about 100 AD and took their boat building skills with them, and transmuted them into the viking boats we know from digs in Northern Europe.
Carvings of reed boats at Gobustan that attracted Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl to visit the site.
the following is by Nigar Abbaszade, from the site
When I was just a kid in high school, our ancient history teacher took us to see the Stone Age petroglyphs at Gobustan. It wasn't far away-only 54 km southwest of Baku. I was amazed by the carvings I saw there-ancient peoples, goats, deer, boats and hunting scenes. The images made a deep impression on me and led me to do historical research about the "Magical Images in Ancient Art in Azerbaijan" for my Bachelor's degree at Baku State University in the Department of Culture and Art.
Discovery of Gobustan
The petroglyphs of Gobustan were not discovered by an archeological expedition. In fact, their revelation came about quite by accident. In the 1930s, work was going on there in a stone quarry. The area is full of huge boulders and rock formations. One of the quarry workers noticed some unusual carvings on the rocks. The more the rocks were cut out, the more the paintings could be seen. (Before they had been hidden from view inside a huge pile of boulders.) Even more paintings were found inside what appeared to be man-made caves. Work at the quarry soon stopped so that the paintings could be examined more carefully.
In 1939, archeologist Isaak Jafarzade began the first archeological investigation of the petroglyphs at Gobustan. Between 1940 to 1965, teams identified and documented approximately 3,500 individual rock paintings on 750 rocks. The most ancient petroglyphs have been identified as belonging to the 12-8th century B.C. However, it is assumed that life existed here even earlier and that Gobustan was one of the cradles of civilization. This research was published in a book entitled "Gobustan" in 1978.
In the ancient caves of Gobustan which date back at least 5,000 years, cave drawings depict two different kinds of boats that were used for early navigation. Heyerdahl is convinced that people living in the area now known as Azerbaijan settled in Scandinavia around 100 AD. Gobustan is located about 30 miles southwest of Baku.
Thor Heyerdahl in 1994 at the Gobustan caves in Azerbaijan
The Gobustan cave dwellings were inhabited at least 5,000 years ago. Located about 30 minutes west of Baku, the cave features drawings of animals, people, dancers and reed boats. In the Sixties, rock drawings in Sakhara and Nepal were made known to the whole world through UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization]. Azerbaijan became sensitive that the outside world had no clue about our own pre-historic drawings at Gobustan.
Gobustan National Protected Heritage Site is situated in the South, 60 km from Baku, with an area of 4400 ha. There are mountains of Boyukdash, Kichikdash, Jinqirdaq and Yazilidjte in the area of Heritage Site. Due to assiduity of the archeologists such as I.M. Jafarzade, D.Rustamova, F.M. Muradova and so on, from 1940 to nowadays about 6000 rock pictures were founded in Gobustan. As a result of archeological excavations 40 barrows and scientifically attributed 105 thousand subjects of material culture were found. Rock pictures were first found in 1939 by the archeologist Jafarzade.
This is a modern reed boat, from Lake Titicaca in South America.
Last update 27th October 2001