'World's Oldest Rock Etchings' Discovered in Iran

Local archeologists lack access to technology necessary to verify the age of the drawings due to sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program, report says.

Iranian archeologist Mohammed Naserifard displays ancient engravings in the hills outside the town of Khomein in central Iran on October 24, 2016.
ATTA KENARE/AFP

An Iranian archaeologist says he’s discovered rock drawings in his country dating back tens of thousands of years, that may be the world’s oldest etchings of their kind, AFP and the Independent say.

Mohammed Naserifard’s research has reportedly been hampered by Western sanctions which denies scientists access to the analytical tools they need.

The drawings marking some of the hillsides outside the western Iranian town of Khomeyn are among 50,000 paintings and engravings found by Naserifard since 2002.

Ancient animals engravings seen in the hills outside Khomein in Iran on October 24, 2016.
ATTA KENARE/AFP

Experts from the Netherlands assessed in 2008 that one cluster of drawings he had found could be more than 40,000 years old.

Many of the etchings are of animals. One of the more striking engravings he has found is that of an ibex deer, thought to be around 4,000 years old.

Ancient engravings in the hills of Western Iran, October 2016.
ATTA KENARE/AFP

It’s difficult to accurately date the findings since Iranian scientists are not permitted to use the latest carbon dating technology under sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, which prevents the use of uranium analysis in any of the country’s research, the Independent says.

Ancient engravings in the hills of Western Iran, October 2016.
ATTA KENARE/AFP