Al Naslaa Rock Formation is a truly giant mystery located in Tayma oasis, Saudi Arabia. It is perfectly split in half and has curious symbols portrayed on its surface. A very straight crack looks almost as if the rock was sliced with a laser. This perfectly vertical gap and its possible origins have been puzzled researchers for years.
Al Naslaa is one of the most photogenic petroglyphs of Saudi Arabia. The perfect split between the two standing rocks and the flat faces are natural in formation. How long will they stay balanced? How did the split in the middle take place? These are some questions that may remain a mystery forever.
History of the Standing Stones
The Tayma oasis was the dwelling place of a Babylonian King, Nabonidus. Both Assyrian and Biblical sources reveal that the oasis was an original trading post and was known for its abundant rock art which was made around 4000 years ago. It is believed that King Nabonidus entrusted the kingship of Babylon to his son, to go to Tayma for worship and look for prophecies.
The Al Naslaa rock is a sandstone block that looks connected to an eroded natural pedestal. The rock is split through the middle, and the crack is so neat that it seems as if the rock was sliced using a laser.
The rock was discovered in 1833 by Charles Huver, and it has been at the heart of conspiracy theories and controversy since then. There have been numerous speculations to ascertain the reason and the method of the cut, however, the mystery of this megalith is still as shrouded as it was at the time of its discovery.
Not just the megalith, the location is also rich in history. Archaeologists have found out that the oldest mention of the oasis city of Tayma was in the 8th century BC, where it was called as the “Tiamat”.
Many Cuneiform inscriptions were also found which were as old as the 6th Century BCE at the Tayma oasis. There is a mention of a biblical eponym, Tema, in the Old Testament. Tema was regarded as one of the sons of Ishmael.
Ventifacts of the Arabian Desert
The Arabian Peninsula is made of limestone, shale and sandstone which overlie the west Arabian crystalline shield and a southern crystalline complex. These sedimentary deposits formed in shallow sea environments. Today, the Arabian desert has many unusual rock shapes owing to the windblown sand and intermittent rains that have carved the sandstone and the limestone bedrock. These rock forms certainly look extraordinary.
Most of the Arabian Peninsula is made up of limestone, sandstone, and shale, which overlies the west Arabian crystalline shield and a southern crystalline complex. These overlying sedimentary deposits formed in shallow sea environments. In the present-day Arabian desert, windblown sand, as well as periodic rains, have carved the sandstone and limestone bedrock, creating many unusual rock shapes – some of which look quite extraordinary.
Another significant highlight of this block is that it has rock art that resembles a horse or a camel engraving. The block is in situ, and the lower portion of the block is similar to what is called as ventifact. Ventifacts are geologic formations that are created by abrasions that occur when windblown sand hit against a rock surface, causing unusual shapes and smooth surfaces.
Just like the Tayma oasis, the White Desert of Egypt is known for its ventifacts that look like giant stone mushrooms coming out of the landscape. Though it is not certain if the Al Naslaa rock formation is a ventifact as the bottom part connecting the rock to the ground looks like one. The top of the rock has a smooth surface on one side, but the overall shape of the stone looks angular and blocky to be a ventifact.
Hypotheses of Weather and Lasers
Many geologists who studied the crack are of the opinion that it may have formed when the ground below it was offset resulting in the split. They have also suggested that it could have been a result of the old fault line. A rock which is near faults is weak and tends to erode easily. When sand blew into the cracks of the rock for years together, the material may have eroded faster as compared to the surrounding sandstone which may have caused the break.
Another study reveals that the crack may have formed from joining of the rock. In Geology, joints are fractures that are created when a stone is pulled apart along the zones of a pre-existing weakness because of some pressure. Joints can be straight and can seem artificial. In some climatic conditions, ice can also accumulate in these cracks that are created by the joints and cause the split to widen till the rocks are pulled apart. There are some more cracks parallel to the one that cut the rock that may be joined. The major fracture can be related to them and could be in just an advanced stage.
Numerous explanations have been proposed by many observers. Some have suggested that the rock was made by a laser, perhaps by aliens or by some ancient advanced civilization. The possibility of making an artificial rock cannot be ruled out completely. But there is no other reason to believe that the formation was artificial except for the clean and precise cut separating the rock into two halves.
It can be regarded as a stone art, but the haphazard placing concerning the crack appears to be unrelated to it. Also, a rock art is the only artificial modification of the rock and is often isolated to one part. The rest of the rock seems like a natural sandstone crop and not a fake block.
The rock does not appear to be intentionally cut by humans or a non-human intelligence. At the moment, the only explanation that is likely is the occurrence of vertical cracks in rocks that looked artificial which could have led to the split. No other evidence prove the usage of lasers by ancient humans or visit by the extraterrestrials.
Besides this, many instances appear to be artificially constructed. One such example is the mineral pyrite which can lead to the formation of perfect cubes from precipitated minerals.
Natural and Artificial Constructs
We observe many patterns in the world around us, and we are unable to think of a natural process that can create something. Hence, we assume them to have been made artificially. At times it is the right answer, but many times, it may be incorrect. This happens with pre historic archaeologists while they examine and try to identify stone tools. Some are authentic stone tools while the others may be mere fragments of rocks.
Whenever we look at any natural phenomena, we use our artificial manipulations to seek an explanation of the unknown. No one knows the answer to this mystery of the formation. With time, it seems almost impossible to solve. Was it an advanced technology that helped to cut the rocks or was it formed by the earth itself? The questions are certainly endless.
Why, and how exactly did the Al-Naslaa come into formation, probably only time holds the answer for this!