Mysterious Cave Art of an Island in the Arabian Sea

Looking into the final chamber of Dahaisi to see the rock art for the first time. Exciting stuff! (Photo by Daniel Britton)
Our lights reveal the final chamber of Dahaisi, allowing us to see the rock art for the first time.
(Photo by Daniel Britton)

Off the tip of the Horn of Africa, nearly alone in the Arabian Sea, the large, rugged, iconic island of Socotra sits, with plants, scenery, and mysteries utterly its own (see photos of Socotra).

Our mission is to document the presence of rock art located in the depths of Dahaisi cave using the latest photographic techniques. We are hoping they will help us uncover and study the animal and human figures, crosses, and strange array of geometric patterns that adorn the walls of the final chamber.

Getting There

The beginning of our arduous journey into Socotra’s deep interior was broken up by fragrant groves of frankincense, dragon’s blood trees that look like prickly inverted umbrellas, and a multitude of bizarrely shaped flowering desert roses. During this part of the journey it was clear why Socotra is considered a jewel of biodiversity, and aptly named the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.”

Having climbed a particularly hazardous stretch of what can be best described as a goat track we finally reached Momi plateau, our home for the next couple of weeks. In the distance we could begin to make out our destination.

As we entered under the branches of the fig tree that stands as a sentinel at the entrance to Dahaisi cave, one could not help thinking about the local legend of a giant white snake that preys on those foolish enough to enter the caves of Socotra. With visions of this beast slithering towards us we began our descent into the dark.

Once we had entered a hundred meters inside the cave, all outside light had vanished and we were totally reliant on our torches to find our way around.

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