Lapland
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The rock art at Alta dates 2000-6000 years back


The rock art at Alta

This large group of rock art (carvings or petroglyphs) in the Alta Fjord in Norwegian Lapland bears the traces of a settlement dating from ca. 4200 to 500 B.C. There are thousands of paintings and engravings in this field at the bay called Jiepmaluokta or Jemmeluft.

Take a look at the map for the whereabouts of the rock art at Alta.

They all add to our understanding of the environment and human activities on the fringes of the Far North in prehistoric times.


The Rock Art of Alta was taken into UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1985. This is the largest known collection of rock carvings in Northern Europe made by hunter-gatherers. The first carvings were discovered in 1973, and they are between 6200 and 2000 years old.

The rock carvings symbolize group identity, religious beliefs, rituals, shamanism, ideology or power.


Themes

A rock carving is a figure which is carved, polished or chipped into stone or bedrock. They are often based on nature itself - animals, objects and people. Sometimes the figures can be easily recognized. Others can be difficult or impossible to understand. We don't yet know what all of them represent.

The rock carvings at Alta are unique because they include so many different figures. At the four uncovered fields there are more than 5000 figures. The most common images are of animals, especially reindeer and moose. But there are other animals, for example bear, birds and fish.

At the Alta World heritage site we find objects such as fishing nets, spears and boats. There are also people in a wide variety of activities.

From the artistic quality of many of the figures we can see that the artists were proficient. Many of the figures are well preserved. They were made by people whose livelihood was hunting, gathering and fishing. Most of the figures are between 20 and 40 cm high.

Alta is the "City of Aurora Borealis" because the Northern Light is common phenomenon here. Click here if you want to know more about the Northern light.

Resources

Here you can read about the World Heritage of the Rock Art at Alta

And here is a presentation of Rock Art at Alta.



Where the Reindeer Roam


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