Saturday, 21 February 2015

Rock Art of Alta, Norway

This card is from a swap with Joey in Norway a couple of years ago. Unfortunately Joey then disappeared from the Postcrossing forum before I could send a postcard back to him and he never answered my messages. I don't like owing cards to people. :(

The property is situated in the northernmost part of Norway, far north of the Arctic Circle at the head of the Alta Fjord. It contains thousands of rock carvings and paintings located at 45 sites in five different areas at the head of the Alta Fjord (Kåfjord, Hjemmeluft, Storsteinen, Amtmannsnes and Transfarelvdalen). More rock art made by hunter-gatherers is found in Alta than anywhere else in northern Europe. This seems to indicate that for thousands of years, from approximately 5000 B.C. to about the year 0, Alta was an important meeting place far north of the Arctic Circle. The development of carvings in Alta through thousands of years can be related to the post-glacial land upheaval. The oldest carvings are found at the highest points of the landscape. In Alta the changing landscape of prehistoric times is evident, and the position of the carvings also provides a key to understanding the chronology of rock art in the circumpolar region.

The Rock Art shows communication between the world of the living and the worlds of the spirits, and gives insight into the cosmology of prehistoric hunters and gatherers. There is an exceptionally high number of human figures and compelling portrayals of prehistoric social life, dancing, processions, and rituals. Moreover, the Rock Art provides a unique testimony to the interaction of hunter-gatherers with the landscape. The panels show hunting, fishing and boat journeys, and are thought to represent micro-landscapes. A wide range of circumpolar fauna is depicted (reindeer, elks, bears, fish, whales, seabirds, etc.). Studies of material culture are enriched by the many different artefacts shown on the Alta panels. Good preservation conditions permit the study of rock art production.

Investigation of the large settlement sites adjacent to the carvings gives a better understanding of the social context of the Rock Art. The Rock Art and the settlement sites demonstrate communication in prehistory with areas thousands of kilometres away.

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