07 April, 2010

The Caves of Soqotra

Soqotra has many caves. Wonderful caves. The most famous is the Hoq cave; the cave which was the first to be surveyed by the Socotra Karst Project-team project. The  three kilometers long cave is awesome: it is decorated by stunning stalagmites, stalactites, calcite floors and many other forms of speleothems. It is one of the biggest caves in the Middle East. During the project, many old artifacts were discovered and it was discovered that - hundreds of years ago, the cave was used as a place of worship. The walls of the cave, are covered by writings in many languages; this - the result of the island being a center for trade for hundreds of years when many around the world sought the dragon's blood, a kind of resin, which is plenty on the Island.

Diodorus of Sicily, a Greek historian and traveler, one century BC - talked about the island Soqotra - “supplying the entire world with all sorts of aromatic and medicinal plants.” He talked too, of a a temple; that temple is in what is now the main settlement on the Island: Hadibo; which was also, then in the olden times, the largest settlement in Soqotra.

Many people in Soqotra are semi nomadic and many still live very much the way they have lived for ages: dwelling in caves, some times for months, high in the mountains when necessary, but having permanent abodes - houses built of stones, on the lower lands; with people of Arab descent having Yemeni styled, flat-roofed houses and those of African origin, having grass-thatched huts . Most of those who live on the coast are of African origin; and most of those who live inland, on the high lands, in valleys and who mainly use these caves, are of Arabic origin.

See photos of the Soqotra caves here. And watch a video of a Soqotra cave exploration here.