Rocks with stories to tell

Photo essay: Petroglyphs of Torghabeh

by shahireh sharif
Torghabeh, a small town in Iran's Khorasan Province is one of the popular local picnic areas.

This is where we used to go in order to escape the heat of summer days.  I recall visiting the popular gardens in this region; enjoying leaning back against the big cushions (پشتی) and looking at the sunlight through the branches of the sycamore trees surrounding us. For grownups eating kebabs and resting for a while (خواب بعد از ظهر)  before ordering their afternoon tea (چای قند پهلو) was the best that this place could offer. But, I thought the traditional ice cream was even better. It came in three layers (chocolate, vanilla and saffron) with fragments of cream and pistachio that gave it its distinctive crunch. The ice cream came pressed between two sheets of wafer, and all together they were the building blocks of happiness!

I often considered myself an expert when it came to Torghabeh; but recently a photograph of a petroglyph (primitive rock carvings) on a rock made me realize that I hardly knew the place. I felt a strong desire to see these carvings for myself. I contacted Mahdi Golkar (the photographer) who kindly offered to take us to the site. A group was assembled and we were taken to this mysterious place that was unknown to our entire group; despite the fact that some members of were living locally.

It had an amazing view; hills set in rich, open landscapes. Rocks painted with interesting shapes and symbols were scattered around the area. The presence of a soothing silence and clean air was undeniable. We heard a short history of the place as we moved from one hill to the next following the group leader (MG). I couldn’t help noticing MG’s love and pride for his homeland. Unfortunately despite the locals’ efforts to protect the rocks, there were signs of vandalism. In places the rocks were damaged or the carvings on them were cut off and stolen!

I cannot confirm exactly how old these inscriptions are or if they are genuine artefacts. Apparently, an official party visited the area to investigate, but nothing came out of their research. Whatever the drawings are or how old they are, two things are for sure: the area worth a visit and without people like MG these rocks would have been disappeared long ago.

By the end of our adventure, the traditional ice cream had found a new rival! Now Torghabeh is the land of the amazing rocks with potential historical value, but it happens to have fantastic ice cream, too!

-- See my photos on Flickr


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Thanks for views & comments

by shahireh sharif on



Thank you:

Jahanshah Javid




Aziz _ Thanks also for the information

choghok _ LOL! Dizi is in the list of things to eat for the next time. PS: interesting username


Did you have Dizi?

by choghok on

There are all nice pics but most importantly you forgot to tell us how the dizi tasted in Torghabeh and post some pictures of that here.

/Bidar bash ke ma bekhabim


Amazing Iran

by Aziz (not verified) on

Thanks for sharing.
I have seen similar rock images in Baja California (Mexico) close to the little town of San Ignacio. Even the rocks are similar in their volcanic origin.
Guides claim they are about 4-5000 years old.


Interesting thanx

by Bachat! (not verified) on

Interesting thanx


thanks shahire for your

by liliyan (not verified) on

thanks shahire for your information and your photos.


Thanks for the sharing,

by پیام on

I've been to Torghabeh a zillion time sice my whole family lives in Mashhad, but was not aware of this artefacts. Deffinitely on my "to visit" list for next time I am in Iran. 

Jahanshah Javid

A must

by Jahanshah Javid on

Thank you for shedding light on these fascinating petroglyphs. Protecting these prehistoric carvings is no less important than the remains at Persepolis. In fact, the older, the more important to our heritage.