كهف جرنان

Jarnan Cave

Useful Information

Location: Wilayat Izki, Ad Dakhiliyah Governorate.
(22.9241116, 57.7636164)
Open: no restrictions. [2020]
Fee: free. [2020]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours: n/a
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The كهف جرنان (Jarnan Cave) is a small horizontal cave, which is actually much more interesting as you might think at first. It is located below the ancient ruins of Al Nazar village, in the normally dry river bed Wadi Halfayn. At the entrance is a massive sign in English, which tells the most interesting fact about the cave, which is a "famous" legend form the pre-Islamic era.

When Islam came into existence a golden calf was hidden deep inside the cave so that no one could reach it. Two passages are leading down on side of the cave and the calf was placed in the other.

It's not easy to understand, there is only one passage, and the calf is placed in the other. A bit like the Arkansas Traveller. If you ask the locals where the road goes they might answer that it never left its place. Of course, it might be just an unintended translation error.

The cave is a single passage, which is quite straight going slightly uphill. It is pretty easy to visit the cave, but unfortunately the passage peters out after only a few meters. The most dangerous thing about the cave is to avoid stepping into the nasty garbage on the cave floor. Even a torch is actually not needed. So you should probably complete the visit of the cave cave with a visit to the ancient ruins of Al Nazar village above. Just be careful, as there is always the danger of falling rock, both in the cave and the ruins.

However, there is no page on the web which actually tells the important things about the cave. First, let's start with the name: Izki was known as Jarnan in pre-Islamic times, hence the name. Some visitors guessed that the cave was man made, which is actually possible, but we have a different theory. If you look at the entrance, you see that the cave is located in a white, fine-grained rock, which is most likely limestone, probably a soft one. The ceiling is almost horizontal and formed by a layer made of rubble and rock in a fine white matrix which is quite hard. This is a conglomerate formed by rounded rubble which was deposited, and the limestone in the groundwater formed calcite in the small spaces between the rubble and thus formed a sold rock. On top is another layer which consists mostly of clay with some rounded rubble at the bottom.

It's easy to understand that the limestone where the cave is, is the bedrock. It was eroded by a river probably in a cold age when there was much more water. It became warmer and drier, and the water was not strong enough to continue erosion, it started to deposit rubble instead. The next phase deposited the clay, which means even less water and less energy. But there was water and covered by the clay, it did not evaporate and had time to dissolve limestone and recrystallize it as calcite.

The next stage is the cave formation. Obviously the river cut into the rocks again, as the Wadi is lower today. So the groundwater in the surrounding rocks drained towards the modern Wadi. The conglomerate was quite hard and resistant, because of the calcite between the rubble, but the soft limestone below was much weaker. The water in this porous rock started to dissolve limestone and creating a cave by corrosion. Typical for such a cave is the triangular profile, with a horizontal ceiling and the walls looking like a V. Also the limestone was rounded by the water. As the wadi in front was cut deeper all the water was flowing out of the limestone, and the cave formation has stopped now.