Carved into large slabs of mountain rock in a remote area of Azerbaijan are human-made drawings of impressive scale, amazing origins, and tremendous significance. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007, this region of Azerbaijan is known as the Gobustan National Historical Artistic Preserve and is comprised of three main mountainous areas: Jinghirdagh Mountain and Yazili Hill; Beyukdash Mountain; and Kichikdash Mountain. Together, these ancient sites, and the relics and vestiges of culture found there, contribute to our understanding of human development over the past 20 millennia or more.

Gobustan, view to the Caspian Sea.

Gobustan’s ancient rock carvings, or petroglyphs (from the Greek words petros meaning "stone" and glyphein meaning "to carve"), as well as its cave shelters, campsites, settlements, and burial sites, have been carefully studied by anthropologists, archeologists, and historians. This research has led to a deeper understanding of the lifestyles, belief systems, and migration routes of the peoples who lived in this region in the distant past. The evidence gathered in Gobustan suggests that our human ancestors existed in this region over many millennia, as early as the Upper Pleistocene period.

The population and culture of ancient Gobustan did not develop in isolation; scholars contend that there was a flow of communication, customs, and goods between Gobustan’s inhabitants and people from surrounding regions. It is difficult to pinpoint one specific group of people as the primary occupants of the region; instead, it appears that different cultures inhabited Gobustan over many, many years. (Farajova, 2009; p 180)