Discovery of 2,700-year-old petroglyphs in western Sweden

The finding offers valuable insights into an ancient civilization through intricate rock carvings.
Kavita Verma
Petroglyphs uncovered by Archaeologists dating back 2,700 years shedding light on the ancient civilization in western Sweden.
Petroglyphs uncovered by Archaeologists dating back 2,700 years shedding light on the ancient civilization in western Sweden.

Foundation for Documentation of Bohuslän’s Rock Carvings 

In a remarkable archaeological find, researchers in western Sweden have uncovered a collection of petroglyphs that offer a glimpse into the past. Dating back approximately 2,700 years, these petroglyphs depict various scenes, including ships, people, and animals. The discovery provides valuable insights into the ancient civilization that once inhabited the region.

Discovery of ancient petroglyphs

The team of archaeologists, led by Martin Östholm, a project manager with the Foundation for Documentation of Bohuslän's Rock Carvings, stumbled upon the petroglyphs while searching for new rock carvings in the area. 

Covered in moss, the rock face initially appeared ordinary. However, upon closer inspection, they noticed lines that seemed to be man-made, prompting them to clear away the moss, revealing the astonishing petroglyphs beneath. People would have had to stand on a boat or a platform constructed on ice to create these carvings due to the steepness of the rock face. 

The petroglyphs, ranging from 12 to 16 inches in length, depict ships, people, and animal figures, including what may be representations of horses. Notably, the largest carving portrays a ship measuring 13 feet in length, showcasing the remarkable skill of the ancient artists.

Possible meanings and significance

Östholm explains that the petroglyphs were created by forcefully striking hard stones against the granite rock face, exposing a distinctive white layer underneath. This technique made the carvings highly visible, even from the mainland or passing ships. While the purpose of these ancient engravings remains uncertain, Östholm suggests that they might have served as markers of ownership. Interpreting the meanings behind the petroglyphs poses a considerable challenge. 

James Dodd, a researcher at Aarhus University (Denmark) and the Tanums Hällristningsmuseum's Rock Art Research Centre Underslös (Sweden), speculates that if the petroglyphs were produced within a relatively short period, they could potentially convey a narrative. 

Certain motifs, such as chariots, carts, and animal figures, were repeated throughout the carvings, indicating the possibility of a coherent story. While similar patterns have been observed in other petroglyphs in the region, the exact significance of this collection of figures remains uncertain.

Ongoing research and implications

The discovery of these petroglyphs in early May has sparked further research and investigation into their origins and meanings. Östholm and his team continue to explore this fascinating site to uncover additional insights into the lives and beliefs of the ancient inhabitants of western Sweden. 

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