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Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Ground Up: Alta Rock Carvings in Norway

Just above the Arctic Circle, north of Norway, there lies a series of rock carvings, otherwise known as petroglyphs, dating back as far as 4200 BCE. The Alta Rock carvings, similar to other pre-historic paintings, depict a culture consisting of hunter gatherers. The carvings have been linked to the descendants of the Komsa, a late Stone Age society.

What we do know is that the Komsa were fisherman and hunters and they were quite skilled at building boats and herding animals. The carvings themselves are diverse, displaying reindeer and bears most frequently, which suggests that they might have been worshiped. Additionally, there are wolves, elk, fish, birds, and several other species.


These types of pre-historic cultures were thought to have bear cults and shamanistic rituals. However, this belief may have stemmed from the footprints carved along the walls. If you look at a reindeer's tracks, you will notice the tracks are going horizontally.

In the case of the bears, the tracks seem to move vertically, which many researchers speculate that bears might have been in some way connected with a cult of the afterlife. Oddly, bears are legend to be able to cross different boundaries and layers of the world. So could it be that they were the key to time travel?

Today, visitors can view the Alta Rock Carvings in an open air museum, fashioned with a wooden walkway between the rocks. You can also see several artifacts found around the area of Alta from the Sami culture and an exhibit on the Northern Lights. The carvings at Alta give us a small glimpse into ancient history, and what it was like on a daily basis.

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Sources All pictures compliments of gorbatsov


Emm said...

Wow, this post is amazing! 4200 BCE is a long time ago and I would love to see these paintings. I wonder what material they used to do them with as they are still so red and vibrant?

The Ancient Digger said...


I know, the color is out of this world. I'm not sure if some additive has been added to preserve them or not. If not, the fact they have survived this long is incredible.

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