Stag Rock Carving, Valcamonica

Stag Rock Carving, Valcamonica


A Walk Amongst the Petroglyphs of Galicia: Prehistoric Designs Trace Life and Times of Bronze Age Europeans

From the Upper Palaeolithic and down through the Neolithic, the Chalcolithic and into the Bronze Age, our ancestors in western Europe left behind traces of their thoughts and beliefs through rock art, characterised by cup and ring marks, spirals and other designs, particularly depicting deer and sometimes also hunters, warriors and weapons.

Palloza houses in eastern Galicia, an evolved form of the Iron Age local roundhouses. ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Dating these carvings, which are called petroglyphs, is difficult but in Galicia, in north west Spain, the carvings include images of datable objects such as Bronze Age swords. Many of them are close to settlements datable to the Bronze Age and carbon dating of fires which had been lit in cups carved into the rocks also points to the Bronze Age. So the consensus is that many of Galicia’s images must be of Bronze Age provenance.

Petroglyph with circles and lines, Vigo, Spain. ( CC BY 2.0 )


Stag Rock Carving, Valcamonica - History

TRACCE no. 7 – by Martin Bemmann, Ditte Koenig

Rock Carvings and Inscriptions along the Karakorum Highway (Pakistan).
Shortly after the construction of the Karakorum Highway connecting Pakistan and China through the Himalayan and Karakorum mountains, in 1978, Prof. Karl Jettmar (Heidelberg, Germany) and Prof. A.H. Dani (Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan) discovered thousands of petroglyphs and inscriptions along the Indus valley.

A brief introduction

These are mainly concentrated in the area east and west of the village of Chilas (Diamir Distr., Northern Areas of Pakistan). A joint Pakistani-German research project was founded and started its first surveys in 1979. Since 1982 the project is maintained as a research cell by the Heidelberg Academy for the Humanities and Sciences. The systematic documentation and publication of this material has been executed since 1989 under the directorate of Prof. Harald Hauptmann. The project keeps a close collaboration with scholars from Pakistan, England, France and Germany.

The aim of this research is a complete documentation and publication of all major rock art sites in this region. An archive of the collected material is installed in the Heidelberg Academy. A duplicate of it will be built up in Pakistan, e.g. in Gilgit.

The publications are presented in two series:

  1. Antiquities of Northern Pakistan (ANP), providing selected specialised articles on the subject
  2. Materialien zur Archäologie der Nordgebiete Pakistans (Materials for the Archaeology of the Northern Regions of Pakistan – MANP) which is devoted to the publication of complete rock art sites in monographs.

Up to now about 30 sites are registered on a stretch of ca. 100 km to both sides of the Indus bearing ca. 30,000 petroglyphs and 5,000 inscriptions in more than 10 writing systems. The carvings are pecked or chiseled into the darkbrown varnished surface of the boulders scattered on the river banks and the terraces of the valley.

The earliest examples of Indus valley rock art are dating back to prehistoric times. The most recent (besides modern ones) belong to the period before the Islamization of the region in the 14th to 15th cent. AD.

The prehistoric carvings in general show animals, hunting scenes and demon-like creatures in different styles (fig. 1).

fig. 1: Stag in animal style from Thalpan

fig.2: Stupa and Buddha under the Tree of Enlightenment from Thalpan

The Buddhist phase starts around the 1st cent. AD and lasts until the 9th or 10th cent AD. The main subjects represented in the carvings are stupas, Buddhas and other Buddhistic symbols (fig. 2).

fig. 3: Brahmi inscription from Oshibat

Another important element of this period are inscriptions, mostly consisting of personal names and dedicational phrases. The majority of the inscriptions are executed in Indian scripts like Brahmi, Kharosthi and Proto-Sarada (Fig. 3). Of special interest are those in Sogdian (ca. 700), Chinese (13) and Hebrew (1).

The old paths along the Indus valley constituted a branch of the Silk Road system. Many of the carvings of this period were therefore executed by travelers like merchants and pilgrims from Central Asia, China and India. But there are a lot of carvings obviously made by the inhabitants of the region as well.
During the 9th or 10th cent. AD, the Buddhist belief was replaced by a new socio-religious movement. Axes and sun-symbols are the new signs of this last major phase of the Indus valley rock art.
The complex of rock carvings and inscriptions in the upper Indus valley provides a remarkable source for the study of the cultural history of Central and South Asia.

Martin Bemmann MA
Dr. Ditte Koenig
Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften
Felsbilder und Inschriften am Karakorum Highway
Postfach 102769
D-69017 Heidelberg / Germany


MIND-BLOWING signs that aliens exist.

The Crop Circles are often believed to be created by aliens, as there is no proper explanation behind this phenomenon.

3. The alien astronaut rock murals of Val Camonica

The rock carvings in the Alpine valley of Val Camonica, Italy, are one of the world&rsquos largest collection of prehistoric petroglyphs.

Most of the glyphs were carved out some 8,000 years before the Bronze Age, and typically depict the everyday trappings of early man, such as scenes of people and animals.

But a set of particular carvings has convinced conspiracy theories some of the glyphs represent alien astronauts walking among them.

The glyphs in question appear to show men with radiating helmets on their heads, wielding oddly shaped weapons &ndash perhaps in battle.

UFO hunters from around the globe believe these images to be indisputable proof.

Bizarre theory: Some think these etchings depict alien astronauts

Anciet Assyrian: Conspiracists think this is an image of an alien spaceraft

4. Mysterious winged object on the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, King of Assyria

A piece of stone panel on the walls of the once mighty ancient palace contains the depiction of the Mesopotamian god Ashur inside of an orb with outstretched wings.

Although the stone carving clearly harks back to ancient Mesopotamian religious beliefs, some conspiracists believe this depiction of Ashur to be that of an alien traveller.

One UFO conspiracist going by the username of Luissaade, claimed the embossment is &ldquoearly man&rsquos way of drawing alien beings that were seen pilots flying machines, alien high technologies, on Earth.&rdquo

The Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, or the Palace of Kalhu, is an ancient site dating back to 879 BC in modern-day Iraq, just north of Baghdad.

Most of the palace was excavated in the 1840s by British archeologists, with its stunning findings found in museums across the planet today.

Alien spacecraft: This Mayan sarcophagus lid supposedly depicts a space traveller

5. The bizarre sarcophagus lid of Mayan king Pacal

Ancient Mayan artwork is known for its intricately detailed, weaving and geometric designs and the sarcophagus lid of the Mayan king Pacal is a testament to the Mayan&rsquos prowess.

However the 1968 book Chariots of the Gods, by Erich von Däniken, has pointed out that far from being an extremely lavish coffin, the sarcophagus contains references to alien UFOs.

According to Mr von Däniken, the central figure in the middle of the sarcophagus is an extraterrestrial alien riding what appears to be a rocket or some sort of space ship control centre.

He wrote: &ldquoIn the center of that frame is a man sitting, bending forward. He has a mask on his nose, he uses his two hands to manipulate some controls, and the heel of his left foot is on a kind of pedal with different adjustments.

&ldquoThe rear portion is separated from him he is sitting on a complicated chair, and outside of this whole frame, you see a little flame like an exhaust.&rdquo


A Beginner’s Guide to Whittling

The Yankee boy, before he’s sent to school,
Well knows the mysteries of that magic tool,
The pocket-knife. To that his wistful eye
Turns, while he hears his mother’s lullaby

His hoarded cents he gladly gives to get it,
Then leaves no stone unturned till he can whet it
And in the education of the lad
No little part that implement hath had.
His pocket-knife to the young whittler brings
A growing knowledge of material things.

Projectiles, music, and the sculptor’s art,
His chestnut whistle and his shingle dart,
His elder pop-gun with its hickory rod,
Its sharp explosion and rebounding wad,
His corn-stalk fiddle, and the deeper tone
That murmurs from his pumpkin-stalk trombone,
Conspire to teach the boy. To these succeed
His bow, his arrow of a feathered reed,
His wind-mill, raised the passing breeze to win,
His water-wheel, that turns upon a pin
Or, if his father lives upon the shore,
You’ll see his ship, “beam ends upon the floor,”
Full rigged, with raking masts, and timbers stanch,
And waiting, near the wash-tub, for a launch.

Thus, by his genius and his jack-knife driven,
Ere long he’ll solve you any problem given
Make any jim-crack, musical or mute,
A plow, a couch, an organ, or a flute
Make you a locomotive or a clock,
Cut a canal, or build a floating-dock,
Or lead forth Beauty from a marble block—
Make any thing, in short, for sea or shore,
From a child’s rattle to a seventy-four—
Make it, said I?—ay! when he undertakes it,
He’ll make the thing and the machine that makes it.

And when the thing is made—whether it be
To move on earth, in air, or on the sea
Whether on water, o’er the waves to glide,
Or, upon land to roll, revolve, or slide
Whether to whirl or jar, to strike or ring,
Whether it be a piston or a spring,
Wheel, pulley, tube sonorous, wood or brass,
The thing designed shall surely come to pass
For, when his hand’s upon it, you may know
That there’s go in it, and he’ll make it go.

“Whittling” by John Pierpont

Whittling is a great pastime for the man who wants to craft something, but may not have the room or tools to say, build a dining room table. Or for the man looking for something meditative to help him center his thoughts. Or simply for the guy who wants to while away time on a camping trip. It’s one of the cheapest and most accessible hobbies you can take up–all you need is a knife and some wood.

I can’t say I ever whittled a pumpkin-straw trombone or a little windmill, but as a boy I did pare many a stray twig into a tiny spear (small, yet surely capable of downing a saber-tooth tiger if needed be).

Now as a grown man I’m always looking for ways to settle my mind and new hobbies to try my hand at. When I think of relaxation, my mind often turns to the old man sitting on the porch in a rocking chair, a knife in one hand, a piece of wood in the other. And so recently I decided to explore my boyhood pastime in greater depth. Today I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you about how to get started with whittling.

What You Need: The Knife and the Wood

The Wood

Softwoods are the best for whittling because they cut nice and easy. After you’ve learned the basics of whittling, feel free to move on to harder woods. No matter which kind of wood you use, look for wood with a straight grain as it is easier to whittle than wood that has the grain going in multiple directions. Avoid wood with lots of knots–those are a booger to whittle.

Check your local lumber yard or woodworking store for whittling wood. Craft stores, like Hobby Lobby, often carry a variety of softwoods that are good for whittling. I picked up all my whittling wood at Hobby Lobby for a few bucks. Just avert your eyes from the fake flowers and wicker baskets as you shop.

Below I’ve included a short list of the most popular whittling woods.

Basswood. Basswood has been used for millennia for woodcarving. During the Middle Ages, it was the preferred wood of German sculptors who crafted elaborate altar pieces. It’s a good wood to whittle with because it’s soft and doesn’t have much grain. You can pick up basswood blocks in various sizes at your local craft store for a reasonable price.

Pine. Pine is another traditional whittling wood. It’s soft, cuts easily, and is readily available. But it has its drawbacks. Some whittlers think pine doesn’t hold detail very well. And if you’re using a fresh pine twig or branch, you’ll have to regularly clean the sticky sap off your knife while you’re whittling.

Balsa. Balsa wood is a soft, inexpensive, lightweight wood that’s perfect for beginning whittlers. You can buy it by the boatloads at craft stores like Hobby Lobby for pretty cheap. I picked up 9 blocks of balsa wood for a little under $4.

Random twigs and branches. You don’t need a pre-cut block of wood to whittle. Twigs and branches from most kinds of trees make for great whittling. There’s nothing more enjoyable than sitting around a campfire and whittling away at a twig while you talk to your buddies. Wooden knives are a popular item to whittle from a tree branch.

The Knife

Pocket Knife. For generations, whittlers have used nothing but their trusty pocket knife to create ruggedly handsome works of art. And some whittling purists will argue that the pocket knife is the only acceptable tool for true whittling. Pocket knives are certainly an excellent choice because they’re so portable. Anytime you find a good piece of wood, you can just whip out your pocket knife and start sculpting your wooden masterpiece. Another benefit of pocket knives is that they provide multiple blade types in a single knife. When you need to do some more intricate carving, you can simply open up your smaller more flexible blade. Need to make bigger cuts? Use the larger knife blade.

Specialty whittling knives. Several types of specialty whittling knives exist on the market today. Unlike pocket knives, they’re fixed blade, meaning they don’t fold. Fixed blades offer a bit more sturdiness than what you get with a folding knife. Another nice feature of specialty whittling knives is that they often have curved handles that fit comfortably in your hand to help reduce fatigue during long whittling sessions.

Flexcut offers a wide selection of different kinds of whittling knives, and I bought this starter set from them. I’ve been happy with the knives. They hold an edge nicely and are easy to sharpen. The ergonomically shaped handle does indeed help reduce hand fatigue compared to carving with a pocket knife.

It’s nice to have a set of specialty whittling knives for when you’re whittling at home, while using your pocket knife for whittling sessions on the go.

The First Rule of Whittling: Keep Your Knife Sharp

If you want your whittling experience to be pleasurable and relaxing, keep your knife sharp. The first time I tried my hand at whittling, I noticed that the wood was getting harder and harder to cut. I figured it must have been the wood, so I just soldiered on, applying more and more pressure with the knife. After my hands started aching something fierce, it finally dawned on me that my knife probably needed some sharpening.

After a few strokes on the sharpening stone and strop, I started carving again. It was like I was carving a warm block of butter. The blade glided right through the wood.

Now, whenever I feel the wood getting harder to cut, I stop and sharpen my knife.

Whittling Safety, or How Not To Get Blood All Over Your Project

The first time I attempted some serious whittling (not just carving a twig into a spear point), I kind of went at it with reckless abandon. I thought, “Hey, I’ve used knives my whole life. I’m pretty sure I can carve this piece of wood without coming close to cutting myself.”

Pride goeth before the fall.

About five minutes in, the knife blade slipped from the wood and went right into my thumb, opening up a nice-sized cut. I pressed on, but I ended up getting blood all over my project. Another ten minutes in, the blade skipped off a knot and glanced my index finger. More blood. At this point, my wood was slippery with hemoglobin, so I had to stop.

To avoid the same bloody fate as me, I offer the following whittling safety tips:

Take it slow. No need to rush! Whittling is supposed to be relaxing and meditative. When you get in a hurry with your cuts, that’s when accidents happen. Make every cut slow and controlled.

Keep your knife sharp. Obeying the first rule of whittling will not only ensure better cuts, it will also ensure that you keep all your fingers. Instead of cutting, dull blades have a tendency to glance off the wood and head right towards your hand. While the blade might not be sharp enough to cut wood, it’s usually still sharp enough to cut human flesh.

Wear gloves when you first start. Until you get comfortable with the different knife strokes, I’d recommend wearing a pair of leather work gloves when your first start whittling. Yes, the gloves feel a little cumbersome at first, but you quickly adjust.

  • Wrap one layer of duct tape around your thumb with the sticky side facing out. Wrap it tight enough so it won’t slip off, but not so tight that you lose circulation to your thumb.
  • Then wrap a couple of layers of duct tape around your thumb with the sticky side facing in. Four or five layers should do the trick.

Wood Grain

Sometimes it’s easy to tell the direction of the grain on a piece of wood simply by looking at it. But oftentimes it’s not that obvious. If you’re having a hard time deciphering which way the grain is going, start making some small shallow cuts in your wood. Cuts made with the grain will peel away smoothly cuts made against the grain will give resistance and eventually split.

Generally, you want most of your cuts to go with the wood’s grain. Cuts against the grain cause your wood to tear, split, and just plain look ugly. Plus, the resistance the wood gives when you cut against the grain makes whittling much more difficult.

Don’t get frustrated if you lose track of which way the grain runs while you’re in the middle of the project. It happens to most people when they’re first getting started with woodworking of any kind. It happened to me at least. Just keep practicing, and you’ll eventually get a feel for figuring out wood grain.

Types of Whittling Cuts

Several cutting styles exist in whittling, but we’ll just stick with the basics for the purposes of this article. The directions assume you’re right-handed. Simply flip them if you’re a southpaw.

Straightaway Rough Cutting

Use this cut at the very beginning of your project to carve your project’s general shape. Hold the wood in your left hand and your knife firmly in your right. Make a long, sweeping cut with the grain and away from your body. Don’t cut too deep or you might split the wood. Make several, thin slices to reduce the wood to the desired size and shape.

Pull Stroke (Pare Cut)

If you’ve ever seen an old-timer whittle, chances are you saw him using the pull stroke. It’s the most used cut in whittling. To perform this cut, imagine you’re paring an apple. Hold the wood in your left hand, the knife in your right with the blade facing towards you. Brace your right thumb against the wood, and squeeze your right fingers in order to draw the blade to your right thumb. Make your stroke short and controlled. Keep your right thumb out of the path of the blade. For added safety, wear a thumb pad.

The pull stroke gives you lots of control over your blade and is best for detailed cuts.

Push Stroke (Thumb Pushing)

Sometimes where you want to cut won’t allow you to do the pull stroke. That’s when it’s time to bust out the push stroke. Hold the wood in your left hand and the knife firmly in your right hand with the blade facing away from you. Place both your right and left thumbs on the back of the knife blade. Push the blade forward with your left thumb while your right thumb and fingers guide the blade through the wood.

The push stroke, like the pull stroke, gives you greater control over your knife for detailed cuts.

What to Whittle

So you have your tools and wood and know the basic cuts. Now, what to whittle?

For beginners, I’d suggest you keep it simple. Keith Randich, author of Old Time Whittling, suggests beginners whittle an egg as their first project. Yeah, an egg. I know, not very exciting. But a simple project like an egg is a good way to introduce beginning whittlers to the law of wood grains. Here’s a guide to carving your very own wooden egg.

After you’ve mastered the egg, you can move on to some simple patterns. Cowboy boots are a popular whittling project as well as animals. You can buy books with ready-to-go whittling patterns. All you have to do is simply transfer the pattern to your wood and start whittling.

Or you could just sort of wing it and make up your own pattern. I thought it would be cool to whittle a duck’s head, so I took a piece of wood, drew an outline of a duck’s head on both sides of it, and started whittling.

A duck head I started a few days ago. Not great, but it’s turning out better than I thought it would.

After months of practice, you might be ready to move on to the really cool projects like wooden chains or the mysterious ball in the cage. Maybe even one day, you’ll be as awesome as this old-timer:

Whittling Resources

If whittling looks like something you’d like to take up, I highly recommend the following books.

The Little Book of Whittling by Chris Lubkemann. A great book for beginners. Lubkemann’s focus is on whittling branches and twigs. This book has a great guide on how to carve an awesome looking knife from a tree branch. You can see them at his website here.

The Art of Whittling by Walter Faurot. Get this book when you’re ready to move on to advanced projects. It’s filled with patterns like a chain, ball and cage, and even some simple puzzles.


10 Oldest Arts in the World

Although its often the first school program to be cut and is generally undervalued by the majority of the population, art is one of the most important aspects of human culture. Long before any evidence of language emerged, some of the oldest artifacts that shed light on human history have been works of art. The world’s oldest art is tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands in some cases, years old.

These works of art show how our culture has evolved over the millennia and range from abstract lines and dots to more complex human and animal figurines. New discoveries are being made every year, so these are the oldest known pieces of art that have been uncovered so far.

10. Venus of Hohle Fels

Year Created: c.35,000 to 40,000 years ago
Location: Hohle Fels, Schelklingen, Germany
Type of Art: Venus (female) figurine
Materials Used: Carved mammoth ivory

photo source: Wikimedia Commons via Ramessos

The Venus of Hohle Fels is the most famous Venus figurine ever discovered and it is the oldest undisputed depiction of a human being – there are a few other “Venuses” on this list, but they are controversial. The Hohle Fels Venus was found over a decade ago in Germany and has been dated to between 35,000 to 40,000 BCE.

The Venus of Hohle Fels is a very small figure carved out of mammoth ivory. It is less than 2.5 inches (60 millimeters) long. While the figure very clearly depicts a voluptuous women (the figure has large breasts and a womanly shape), there is no head. Instead, there is a ring where the head should be and archaeologists believe this means the figure was worn as a necklace.

Did You Know?

Due to the way the Venus of Hohle Fels was carved, scientists believe the figure may have represented female fertility, or been related to shamanistic rituals and beliefs.

9. Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel

Year Created: c.38,000 to 40,000 BCE
Location: Hohlenstein-Stadel, Swabian Jura, Germany
Type of Art: Lion-man figurine
Materials Used: Carved piece of mammoth ivory using a flint stone knife

photo source: Wikimedia Commons via Dagmar Hollmann

The Lion Man of Hohlenstein Stadel or Löwenmensch (“lion-human”) is one of the most fascinating pieces of prehistoric art ever discovered. As the figurine’s name suggests, the Lion Man depicts a lion’s head on a man’s body. The Löwenmensch was carved from a piece of mammoth ivory and is widely considered the oldest uncontested example of figurative art. It is also the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world.

While most of the Lion Man sculpture was uncovered in 1939, more pieces were discovered in 2009. A few years later, from 2012 to 2013, the Lion Man was carefully reconstructed and these new pieces were added. Currently, the Lion Man is on display at the Ulm Museum in Germany.

Did You Know?

In more recent years, the gender of the Lion Man has been called into question. Some scientists have argued that the lion head of the figure is actually a ”Höhlenlöwin” (female European cave lion).

8. Borneo Cave Art

Year Created: c.40,000 years ago
Location: Borneo (Kalimantan), Indonesia
Type of Art: Wild cattle drawing
Materials Used: Ochre on cave walls

photo source: Artnet News

Recently, in late 2018, archaeologists discovered what is now the world’s oldest figurative art in a cave in Borneo, Indonesia. The cave art shows pictures of wild cattle made with red ochre and it has been dated to over 40,000 years ago, possibly up to 52,000 years ago. While many of the other art on this list is older, the images/engravings depicted are abstract lines and drawings and do not necessarily represent anything the way these cattle drawings do.

Like many newer archaeological finds, the cave art in Borneo was dated using a newer technique, flowstone dating, rather than radiocarbon dating. According to archaeologists, the date of the Borneo cave art shows that humans were shifting from abstract to more figurative art around the same time in both Asia and Europe.

Did You Know?

The cattle drawings were not the only works of art found in the Borneo cave. There are more recent paintings of human figures and hand stencils dating between 13,000 to 20,000 years ago.

7. La Ferrassie Cave Cupules

Year Created: c. 40,000 to 60,000 BCE
Location: Les Eyzies, Dordogne, France
Type of Art: Cupules (cup shaped depressions carved into rock surface)
Materials Used: Hammerstones used to carve out cup shapes on rocks

photo source: Wikimedia Commons via Don Hitchcock

The La Ferrassie Cave complex is one of the oldest archaeological sites in France and is home to one of the oldest known art forms, cave cupules. These cup shaped depressions may not be as pretty as some of the other cave art out there, but they are just as important for shedding light on the early cultural practices of early humans.

The cupules at La Ferrassie have been dated between 40,000 to 60,000 BCE. Unfortunately, because cupules are not as “nice” as cave murals and paintings, little research has been done on the why they may have been made and how important these symbols may have been to ancient humans – cupules have been found on every continent.

Did You Know?

Although they are not as old as the cupules, La Ferrassie Cave has numerous paintings, animal figurines, and rock engravings, the most fascinating of which is believed to be a depiction of a vulva.

6. Diepkloof Eggshell Engravings

Year Created: c.60,000 BCE
Location: Diepkloof Rock Shelter, Western Cape South Africa
Type of Art: Eggshell engravings
Materials Used: Ostrich eggshells

photo source: Wikimedia Commons Avia Science Magazine

About a decade ago, in early 2010, scientists revealed that they had uncovered ancient ostrich eggshell fragments covered in etched symbols at the Diepkloof Rock Shelter in South Africa. The eggshell engravings were dated to about 60,000 BCE and have been called abstract graphic designs.

Archaeologists found that the engravings had changed over time and two main patterns emerged. The older design shows a hatched band similar to a train track, while the newer engravings consist of parallel lines. Researchers also noted that the different colors of the eggshell fragments were mostly caused by the shells being accidentally dropped into a fire and broken.

Did You Know?

There is some evidence that the Diepkloof eggshells had punctured openings, which means the empty eggs were probably used as containers.

5. Cave of Maltravieso

Year Created: 64,000 to 66,700 years old
Location: Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain
Type of Art: Hand stencils on cave walls
Materials Used: Red ochre

photo source: Smithsonian Magazine

The hand stencils in the Cave of Maltravieso in Spain have changed scientists’ understandings on history of human art. The paintings in Maltravieso are so old – between 64,000 to 66,7000 years old – that they could not have been made by Homo sapiens. Instead, researchers believe that the hand stencils were made by Neanderthals (although there is no direct evidence other than the time period to suggest this).

Maltravieso’s hand stencils are currently the oldest known cave paintings in the world and were made using a red ochre pigment. The pigments were dated using a newer method called uranium-thorium dating, which is more accurate than the better-known radiocarbon dating.

Did You Know?

Two other caves in Spain – La Pasiega and Ardales – also have cave paintings made with the same red ochre used in the Cave of Maltravieso and have also been dated to over 60,000 years ago.

4. Blombos Cave Rock Art

Year Created: c.70,000 to 75,000 BCE
Location: Blombos Private Nature Reserve, Heidelberg, Western Cape, South Africa
Type of Art: Rock engravings
Materials Used: Ochre crayons on cave rock

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Blombos Cave in South Africa is a treasure trove of prehistoric art which dates back to at least 70,000 BCE. The art of Blombos Cave is the earliest known art ever discovered in Africa and pre-dates other early cave art by tens of thousands of years.

The most important discovery in the Blombos Cave was two pieces or rocks decorated with crosshatch designs that were made with ochre crayons. Archaeologists discovered hundreds of piles of ochre that had been ground up and turned into these crayons. While scientists believe that these crayons were made specifically for design purposes, no actual cave art/paintings have been discovered yet in Blombos.

Did You Know?

Besides the rock carvings, shell beads dating to around 70,000 to 75,000 BCE were found in Blombos Cave.

3. Venus of Tan-Tan

Year Created: c.200,000 to 500,00 BCE
Location: Tan-Tan, Morocco
Type of Art: Venus (female) figurine
Materials Used: Quartzite rock

photo source: The Bradshaw Foundation

Like the Venus of Berekhat Ram, which dates to around the same time period, the Venus of Tan-Tan’s status as a piece of art has been called into question. The Venus of Tan-Tan and the Venus of Berekhat Ram are often mentioned together because their existence and dating to over 200,000 BCE provides evidence that these figures may have been made by early human ancestors and not just natural phenomena.

The Venus of Tan-Tan has been studied extensively and scientists do agree that some of the markings on the rock were natural. However these researchers believe that the natural lines of the Venus of Tan-Tan were accentuated by human tools.

Did You Know?

The Venus of Tan-Tan is made out of quartzite rock and is 6 centimeters in length (2.36 inches), roughly 2.6 centimeters (1.02 inches) in width, and 1.2 centimeters (0.47 inches) thick.

2. Venus of Berekhat Ram

Year Created: c.230,000 to 700,000 BCE
Location: Berekhat Ram, Golan Heights, between Syria and Israel
Type of Art: Venus (female) figurine
Materials Used: Carved red tuff pebble (rock made from volcanic ash)

photo source: Amusing Planet

The Venus of Berekhat Ram is a controversial piece of art because scientists cannot agree on whether of not the red tuff pebble (volcanic ash rock) was actually carved by a person of it was shaped naturally. The figurine is being included on this list because there is a strong case for it being a real piece of art and the Venus of Berekhat Ram is mentioned often enough in discussions of prehistoric art that it deserves to be included.

While the official status of the Venus of Berekhat Ram has yet to be determined, microscopic analysis has shown that the marks on the rock were made by a sharp-edged tool. However, there are people in the scientific community who believe that marks were caused by erosion. In addition to the microscopic analysis, the Venus of Berekhat Ram has been dated to 230,000 to 700,000 BCE, which would make it one of the oldest prehistoric sculptures.

Did You Know?

The Venus of Berekhat Ram was discovered in 1981 and was named after the more famous Venus figurines from Europe even though it does not look anything like these figures.

1. Bhimbetka Petroglyphs

Year Created: c. 290,000 BCE to 700,000 BCE
Location: Raisen District, Madhya Pradesh, India
Type of Art: Cupules (cup shaped depressions carved into rock surface)
Materials Used: Hammerstones used to carve out cup shapes on rocks

photo source: Wikimedia Commons via Dinesh Valke

The petroglyphs or rock carvings at the Bhimbetka rock shelter in Madhya Pradesh, India have been dated to at least 290,000 BCE – there is speculation that the carvings could be thousands of years older, but further testing is needed. The rock carvings primarily consist of cupules (cup shaped depressions that have been hammered into the rock surfaces) and are the world’s oldest known art.

While the Bhimbetka cave complex is made of over 700 rock shelters, the most famous part of the site is the Auditorium Cave. It is the largest of the Bhimbetka shelters and is surrounded by quartzite rock towers which can be seen from over several kilometers away.

Did You Know?

In addition to the petroglyphs, the Bhimbetka rock shelters are home to over 500 cave murals and other examples of paleolithic art. These paintings are not nearly as old as the petroglyphs and are only about 30,000 years old.


Mystery etched in stone: What do the petroglyphs of the American Southwest represent?

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What do the petroglyphs of the American Southwest represent? There are more than 10,000 ancient petroglyphs scattered across the region which have baffled experts since their discovery. Some of these petroglyphs depict strange faces with almond-shaped eyes, abstract symbols, spiral’s, zig-zag’s, beings with antennas, horns and feathers, birds, and beings with massive round eyes, among countless other shapes.

Moonset On The Past. One of the most beautiful setting moons. Image Credit: Wayne Snuggs. Ancient petroglyphs from the Jornada Mogollon People.

If we take a trip from southeastern Arizona, northeastern Sonora through southern New Mexico and northern Chihuahua into western Texas we will find hundreds of ancient petroglyphs the ancient’s left us in stunning galleries of mysterious and ‘controversial’ images mostly chiseled on stone surfaces.

There are so many petroglyphs across the region that its hard to even start of describing them.

Intricate images were discovered etched on the rocks of canyons and mountains ranging from deep in Mexico to the northern Rockies. Most of these intricate symbols and markings are concentrated in the American Southwest—Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Texas, and California—but the truth is that they have been found from coast to coast in the United States.

In fact, archeologists believe there are thousands of rock art sites across the Southwest—and more than 7,000 symbols have been cataloged in Utah alone.

Deciphering the exact meaning of the thousands of petroglyphs carved across the American continent has been a difficulty for experts who are stuck between two worlds, when it comes to understanding what the ancients were trying to tell us, written in stone. While some petroglyphs point out the obioucs—ancients hunting, and animals from the region—other petroglyphs have caused confusion among experts. There are certain petroglyphs carved across the American Southwest that give rise to countless theories—and depictions of aliens and distant galaxies is one of the most controversial explanations.

Ancient Art At Midnight. Ancient Rock Art from the Jornada Mogollon People dating back to 900 – 1400 A.D. Image Credit: Wayne Snuggs.

Most of the petroglyphs we will look at in this article are connected to the ancient Puebloan cultures and the ancient people known as the Anasazi, an ancient civilization which has been credited with constructing supermassive cliff-dwellings in the southwestern landscape.

Throughout the years, experts have determined that the intricate symbols scattered across the area are clan or tribal symbols, believed to have been associated with territory.

Others stone etchings indicate the presence of shelter and water, but the more eccentric symbols, like the countless zigzags, spirals, dots, circles, and others have created confusion among experts. Curiously, archaeoastronomers believed how a number of the rock carvings across the region are celestial in nature, and some of them indicate solstices and planetary movements, and there are even archaeological sites that have been found to be astronomical observatories similar in function to one of Europe’s most noteworthy, Stonehenge.

One of the most peculiar rock etchings—and a personal favorite—is without a doubt the “Canyon Watchmen” chiseled on a rock at the Organ Mountains in New Mexico.

Image Credit: Wayne Snuggs.

The curious image depicts what seems to be a humanoid figure with large eyes and two antennas protruding from the top of its head.

Some experts want to believe that this was the depiction of an ancient Shaman, but there are many who remained convinced that what we are seeing here, is in fact a depiction of the “Sky God” beings who came to Earth thousands of years ago and interacted with ancient cultures across the planet.

Another interesting set of ancient petroglyphs we have to take a look at, originates from an ancient culture of indigenous people from Southern New Mexico and Arizona, Northern Sonora and Chihuahua, and Western Texas, a region popularly referred to as OasisAmerica: the Mogollon Culture—an ancient people whose origins remains a mystery for scholars. Scholars are having a hard time understanding where this ancient culture originated from. One theory suggests how the ancient Mogollon emerged from a preceding Desert Archaic tradition that links Mogollon ancestry with the first prehistoric human occupations of the area—sometime around 9000 BCE. But, like many other things in our history, these are just speculations.

Mysterious beings etched on the rocks thousands of years ago have baffled experts since their discovery. What do they represent? Image Credit: Pinterest

It is noteworthy to mention that archaeologists believe that the Western Pueblo villages of the Hopi and Zuni people are related to the Mogollon.

Across the 100,000 square-mile area that encompasses the Mimbres branch of the Mogollon to the west all the way to the Jornada branch to the east, archaeologists have found COUNTLESS symbols etched in stone—standing the test of time—depicting strange faces with almond-shaped eyes, abstract symbols, spiral’s, zig-zag’s, beings with antennas, horns, and feathers, birds and beings with massive round eyes, among countless other shapes. We can find 3000 Jornada Mogollon rock paintings alone depicting strange creatures which experts have failed to understand.

More intricate symbols can be found at Grapevine Canyon which feature more than 700 strange petroglyphs which are believed to date back between 1100 and 1900 A.D. Just as other petroglyphs, those at Grapevine Canyon remain a mystery since both the meaning of the glyphs and their creators remain an enigma, although the area was inhabited by the ancient Mojave.

Although such evidence of Alien visitation is far from conclusive, and merely circumstantial at this point—kind’a like religion?—the presumption is sufficient to clarify an obligation to take it into consideration, right?

Perhaps the most controversial question that still needs answering is, “Who were these strange beings that arrived from the sky riding “huge thundering birds,” as described by ancient cultures not only in the American continent but around the planet.


Contents

Creswell Crags and Whitwell Gap Edit

Before Creswell village was built around the colliery in the late 19th century, there were only farms around the entrance to the Crags. The local Anglo Saxon villages were Whitwell, Elmton and Thorpe (Salvin). Creswell was the name of the farm nearest to the colliery site, and so a drop-off point for materials used in the building of the colliery. At that time Creswell Crags was known locally as Whitwell Crags. The Crags may be what was referred to by the Anglo Saxon poets who recorded King Alfred's grandson, King Edmund, conquering the 5 boroughs from the Viking Earls in 942 AD, reaching as far as Dore and "Hwitan Wylles Geat" (the Whitwell Gap).

Caves Edit

The most occupied caves were:

  • Mother Grundy's Parlour, which has produced numerous flint tools and split bones and was occupied until Mesolithic times.
  • Robin Hood's Cave, the location of a bone engraved with a horse's head and evidence that its occupants hunted and trapped woolly rhinoceros and Arctic hare.
  • The Pin Hole, the location of the Pinhole Cave Man, a human figure engraved on bone and discovered in the 1920s, and an ivory pin with etched lines.
  • Church Hole, with more than 80 engravings on its walls and occupied intermittently until Roman times.

Finds Edit

A bone engraved with a horse's head and other worked bone items along with the remains of a variety of prehistoric animals have been found in excavations since 1876, including hyenas and hippopotami. The "Ochre Horse" was found on 29 June 1876 at the back of the western chamber in the Robin Hood Cave. [5]

In 2003, the Ochre Horse was estimated to be between 11,000 and 13,000 years old. [6]

Cave art Edit

In April 2003, engravings and bas-reliefs were found on the walls and ceilings of some of the caves, an important find as it had previously been thought that no British cave art existed. The discoveries, made by Paul Bahn, Sergio Rippoll and Paul Pettitt, included an animal figure at first thought to be an ibex but later identified as a stag. Later finds included carvings on the ceiling of Church Hole Cave, the rarity of which made the site one of international importance. [7]

To this day the finds at Creswell Crags represent the most northerly finds in Europe. Their subject matter includes representations of animals including bison and, arguably, several different bird species. Some workers, however, consider that the "bird" figures are more likely to be female anthropomorphs. The engravers seem to have made use of the naturally uneven cave surface in their carvings and it is likely that they relied on the early-morning sunlight entering the caves to illuminate the art.

Thin layers of calcium carbonate flowstone overlaying some of the engravings were dated using the uranium-series disequilibrium method, which showed the oldest of these flowstones to have formed at least 12,800 years ago. [6] This provides a minimum age for the underlying engraving. The scientists and archaeologists concluded that it was most likely the engravings were contemporary with evidence for occupation at the site during the late glacial interstadial around 13,000–15,000 years ago. Most of the engravings are found in Church Hole Cave on the Nottinghamshire side of the gorge. Since this discovery, however, an engraved reindeer from a cave on the Gower peninsula has yielded two minimum dates (through uranium-series dating) of 12,572 years BP and 14,505 years BP. [8]

Not all of the figures identified as prehistoric art are in fact human made. An example given by archaeologists Paul Bahn and Paul Pettitt is the 'horse-head', Which they say is ""highly visible and resembles a heavily maned horse-head. lacks any trace of work: it is a combination of erosion, black stains for the head, and natural burrow cast reliefs for the mane." Others are a 'bison-head' which they think may be natural and a 'bear' image which "lacks any evidence of human work." Notwithstanding they believe that more figures may be discovered in the future. [9]

The site was the subject of the BBC Radio 4 documentaries Unearthing Mysteries, Nature and Drawings on the Wall, and featured in the 2005 BBC Two television programme Seven Natural Wonders, as one of the wonders of the Midlands. In the Drawings on the Wall (Episode 1) Dr Paul Pettitt was interviewed about the so-called 'naked ladies' engravings in Church Hole Cave. [ citation needed ]

Creswell Crags first applied for World Heritage Site status in 1986, but was unsuccessful. Since then further research and development has been carried out and, in 2011, it was again put forward for consideration. [10] In 2012 it was added to the United Kingdom's 'tentative list' – an essential prerequisite to formal nomination, evaluation and potential inscription as a World Heritage Site. [1] [11] The Tentative List identifies the universal outstanding value of Creswell Crags as being:

  1. The outstanding landscape of a narrow limestone gorge containing a complex of caves having long-intact palaeoenvironmental cave and gorge sediment sequences, containing rich cultural archaeological remains as well as diverse animal bone, plant macro- and micro-fossil assemblages
  2. In situ Palaeolithic rock art on the walls and ceilings of caves, dated directly to 13,000 years ago, providing direct cultural associations with Late Magdalenian human groups operating at extreme northern latitudes [1]

In addition, Creswell Crags' significance has been enhanced by the discovery of a number of pieces of portable art made of engraved bone – the UK's only known figurative Ice Age art – as well as assemblages of bone, stone and ivory tools. [1]


Stag Rock Carving, Valcamonica - History

TRACCE no. 11 – by † Burchard Brentjes

Rock Art in Russian Far East and in Siberia. A bird’s eye view over a continent .
There are about half a million of petroglyphs known in Siberia and the Far East of Russia. Mobody knows up to now how many are still to be discovered

There are about half a million of petroglyphs known in Siberia and the Far East of Russia. Nobody knows up to now how many are still to be discovered. At any rate these documents of history deserve to be studied and added to the hoard of world culture. They are original sources for the history of the different peoples in Central and North-eastern Asia before the beginning of written texts there. These sources of history are difficult to read as the other rock art, too. A bird’s eye view is given about the main groups of rock art in Siberia and Russian Far East with an introductory bibliography. They are dated post diluvial, a big group into the 2 nd and 1 st millennia BC. Only a part is painted, while the majority is scratched or picked.

The vast region from the Pacific to the Urals with its about 10000 km length houses a great number of sites with rock art. They form a lot of local groups and date from the Palaeolithic up to our time. There are known single sites with more than 100000 drawings, so that here only a bird’s eye view could be given. I devote this paper to the memory of Alexey Okladnikov, one of the pioneers of the investigations in Siberian rock art who had worked in many fields from the Amur to the Tom, so I can base my report in main on his publications. He was an enthusiast of his job, and when a typical Soviet reception was given on occasion of his 75th birthday in his institute, he sent a cable “congratulation – I stay in the excavation” – the single case I know about.

The rock art in Siberia is rather uniform in the two main areas of life – the forest region in the north and the wooded steppe in the south. A special role played always the Altai, the connection between the western and the eastern steppes. The forest region along the Amur seems to have been a conservative zone keeping its art through the millennia.

In the northern area the population chose the elk as the main motif to express their feelings, while the western zone was dominated in the 2 nd millennium BC by the two-wheeled carriage and in the 1 st millennium BC by the Sakian “animal style”. Later petroglyphs reflect the nomadic life of the Huns and the Turco-Mongol people. The tribes settling along the Amur pronounced the human-like mask and a “skeleton” style – both reflecting a type of Shamanism. Masks are common in the forest area, too, and the elk may express some myths about the world according to fairy-tales in nowadays Siberia. The Sakian animal style gave many ideas in form of animals, but we cannot read them in details, though some connections are to be understood by Old Iranian believes.

The material presented here is far from being complete – it will give only an idea about the art on the rocks in Northern and Central Asia.

I. Far East – Lower Amur

The rock art is one of the main sources for the history of the tribes living in the wooded area at both sides of the Lower Amur. Several motives seem to indicate that the population did not change during the last millennia. The rock art was surveyed at the rivers Ussuri, Amur, and Suyfun. A big group of 19 decorated stones was found at the right bank of the Amur at Sakachi-Alyan.

Sakachi-Alyan, Lower Amur, “mask” and human sculls

Sakachi-Alyan, Lower Amur, elk in “skeletal style

The dominating motif is the “mask”, similar to human sculls (1) drawn in broad lines with big eyes, sometimes besides boats (2) and heavy animals (3) without horns – they represent bears. Other pictures show elks (4) (?) , cows (5) , and riders on horseback (6) . Some “masks” have a sort of body (7) in a “skeletal style” like various elks (8) . A relatively well drawn bear is an exception (9) . The same a man fleeing a bear (10) . Volutes like on folk art textiles (11) are strange. Riders in an abstract style (12) seem to be intrusive. Swans repeat such figures in Altai art (13) . Later drawings show riders, birds, and quadrupeds (14) found at Moj.

II. Yakutia and Buryatia

1. Rock art in the Lena area

The river system of the Lena contains several groups of rock art, with local and historical differences. The oldest parts are believed to have been made in the Late Palaeolithic Age, while the majority is Turko-Mongolian art.

At the Upper Lena the eldest ones were found at Kozlova (1) and Vorob’evo (2) . They show mainly female and male elks, some of them completely picked, others only contoured.

Drawings of different ages were found at various sites, like at Tal’ma, where Turkish riders (3) were drawn over ancient elks (4) . Some were overscratched by relatively recent riders, and animals in group or isolated (5)

Kulenga, Upper Lena, fighting scenes and houses

Similar paintings of the Turkish period were discovered at Bolshaya Pad’, at the ShamanKamen’ and at Podkamen’. In Kulenga (6) there are drawings with orthodox cross together with armed riders, in one case in a fight. Seldom are rows of dancers as at Kozlovo (7) . Some late may be Russian – drawings show houses, boats and animals (8) . Undatable anthropomorphic figures with raised arms and a head ending in three points were found at Kozlovo (9) and at Tal’man (10) They might be pre-Turkish and appear in Western Siberian art, too, while “masks” are seldom (11) .

2. Rock art besides the Baikal

The existence of rock art near the lake Baikal is known since more than hundred years. The main sites are the Sayan-Zaba Bay, the Aya Bay, and the influence of the Angara into the lake.

Bukhta Aya, Baikal, horned “devil” -“skeleton type” man

Okladnikov believed that two elk pictures at the Sakhyurte mountain had been made in the Stone Age, for they were found aside a working place for making stone tools. Okladnikov dated most of the drawings into the 2 nd millennium BC and the latest one with reservation into the Early Turkish period. Here the main motif is the “devil” with two horns representing according to his opinion Shamans (1) . Often water fowls – may be swans – were depicted (2) . In the Bukhta Aya (3) there appear two men of “skeleton” type – Shamans as some stags are shown in this manner similar to animal style (4) . Riders and hunters are seldom.

The surveyed area is the valley of the river Uda and its tributaries Ona, Sala, Onona, and Inogda. Rich in rock art are the cliffs of the mountain Khotogoy-Khabsagay, and the rocks of Titovskoy Sopka near Chita.

Khachurt, Transbaikalia, cemeteries?

Khotogoy-Khabsagay, Transbaikalia, cemeteries?

The dominant motives are here birds of prey. Okladnikov tried to identify them as eagle, falcon, hawk, and kite. They are shown either together or single on nearby all cliffs. It looks like that religious ideas are connected with them. Most pictures show birds and men and figures between them probably indicating a sort of flying up of the soul (?). Typical is the sketch at the Khotogoy-Khabsagay (1) , where human figures stand in a geometrical form filled with points a row of birds are rising. Such structures – cemeteries ? – were repeated several times, for instance at Khachurt (2) . The figures are rough and do not show details. The flying bird is depicted on bronze knives of the eastern animal style, possibly dating these pictures to the 1 st millennium BC.

4. The region of the Angara

The valley of the Angara and its tributaries have mainly red paintings and scratchings. The paintings may be connected with the similar groups in Mongolia and Buryatia. The colour is ochre. The rock art at the Angara was studied by several scholars, but now most of them are submerged under the water of the artificial lake at Bratsk. Okladnikov had described twenty four sites in 1966. The dominant motif is the marching elk (1) . Sometimes a fish (2) is shown. Other pictures represent the Baikal seal (3) , so at Kamennyy Ostrov 2. There are a lot of human beings and “devils” like figures with “horns” and tail (4) . The men driving in boats are fishers (5) . Late scratched pictures of riders on horseback might be Turko-Mongolian (6) , the others are not datable. Several “masks” remind the Amur art (7) .

Kamennyy Ostrov, Angara, elks

A common motif is a man on ski, sometimes as elk hunters (8) . Rows of “dancing” figures appear at Kamennyy Ostrov (9) . Some scratchings are Shamans drawn in “skeleton” style (10) . There are to be seen also many very conventional boats. So the rock art of the Angara could be ascribed in part to the tribes of the forest and in part to Turkish intruders. The religious base was the Shamanism.

III. Mongolia

The mountains of Mongolia are filled by pictures from many millennia – from Palaeolithic till the Turko-Mongolian period. Most of the sites are atypical with single animals or groups of them, in main stag, goat, and sheep (1) . Some of them remind the Sakian animal style as in Alarin-Gol (2) . The cave Khoyt Cenker Aguli (3) deserves new survey for its importance. The red paintings may be the oldest ones in Central Asia. Besides cattle and horse (4) appear crane (5) , mammoth (6) , and antelopes. Volkov and Novgorodova (7) visited the cave again in 1969 and underlined the early date. Like Okladnikov both took the cranes as ostriches. They discovered petroglyphs (8) of a very stylised form below a neolithic level at Arshan Khad and mentioned different other sites with similar early glyphs. Both dated the pictures from the mount Chandoman’ into Neolithic and Chalcolithic times. Cattle, horses, and sheep are picked out partly in silhouettes. Besides these animals there are shown some snakes and birds.

The Khanym Khad (9) in Altai has numerous carriages with two wheels and horses. Similar pictures have been found at Jamaany, Cagaan Gol, Somon Bogd and other sites. Carriages were drawn later on the same cliffs in the Mongolian time (10) . The pictures of eagles and “field” with men were found at several sites, so at Bogd Uul, Tuul, and Bood-Khulgan (11) . Riders in heavy armour with Turkish runes come from Khar Khad (12) . In the same period men were engraved ploughing-men with oxen (13) l detained report about the glyphs at Arca-Bogdo was published by Okladnikov (14) . A review about rock art in Mongolia was written by Novgorodova (15)

IV. Altai – Tuva

The mountains of the Altai ridge were an important part of the nomadic area at least since the late 4 th millenium BC. They served as a refugium in winter time, when the icy storms and the snow made the survival on the steppes in the north problematical. They were pass ways from southern Siberia to Mongolia and vice versa. Their valleys were harbours in winter and refugial resorts for surviving for parts of tribes butchered during tribal warfare. The valleys served as burial places for many fold folk and the circumstances – frozen soil, aridity and others – preserved a lot of important materials. But since the end of the nomadic empires the Altai was a lonely area between China and Russia and the mountains fell back in obscureness.

Elangash, hunting scenes and two-wheels carts

Elangash, yaks with packs on the back

Besides many cemeteries and Kurgans several areas were surveyed for rock art and again thousands of drawings were recorded. The problem of dating is open as usual, but several groups could be roughly identified by the motives and the style. Dominant are hunting scenes and single animals. Aside the river Elangash picked pictures were discovered besides some scratched ones. They show wild sheep, stags, yaks, dogs, horses, camels, birds, and human beings, mostly hunters or travellers. The hunters are represented shooting with bows and arrows, some by foot (1) , others on a two-wheeled carriage (2) , or on horsebacks (3) . The walking hunters cannot be dated, while carriages might be referred to the 2 nd and early 1 st millennia BC. Cars are represented with the wheels seen from the side, the animals with the backsides towards the yoke and the driver in the same level as the car. Unusual are the pictures of caravans with loaden yaks (4) , single yaks with packs on the back or with a camel (5) .

An exception is the rider with a banner (6) , probably a Turkish picture. Some of the stags are drawn in the typical Sakian animal style (7) , but the majority must be left undated. Two riders with their horses in “flying gallop” (8) could be of Hunnic period or later. Fighting men are rarely depicted (9) . Most pictures are picked with the complete silhouette, but some horses are depicted only with the contour. They might be the oldest ones here (10) . From a subsequent period we can find scratches with hunting scenes, riders, yurts, herding scenes (11) with camels and yaks (12) , women (13) or fightings between men (14) .

2. Middle Katun in Central Altai

Here were found principally pictures of stags, sheep, and goats, some of them show hunters as at Kuyas (1) . The style is not very remarkably.

Where the Yenisei pass the Sajan Canyon a lot of rock art sites were found (1) between them Ortaa-Sargol, the “way of Chingiz Khan” and Mugur-Sargol. The Bronze Age is represented by the usual hunting carriages (2) and wild animals, goats, sheep, cattle, stags, strange warriors or hunters with a hat – or helmet -, bows, and a bag (3) .

The Early Iron Age is represented at the “way of Chingiz Khan” with stags in Scythian style (4) . A fine boar in animal style was found at Ortaa-Sargol (5) together with Scythian stags (6) . Hunnic-Sarmatian drawings show riding hunters and goats, stags and horses (7) . Later petroglyphs show animals, between them caravans with camels (8) .

V. Yenisei and Tom

The valley of the “Big river”, Ulug-Khema, in Tuva is a rich rock art area with several sites. The most impressive pictures represent more than seventy masks wearing horns, so appearing with a kind of demonic outfit (1) . Devlet compared them with the famous stelae of the “Okunev” culture, better to say Tasmin culture, and the pictures from the Amur. They appear in groups and isolated. A strange one at Mugur-Sargol presents plans of houses with gardens or fields like in Val Camonica (2) .

Ulug-Khema, Mugur-Sargol, Tuva, topographic engravings and masks

Ulug-Khema, Mugur-Sargol, Tuva

Some drawings with racing carriages may be dated into the Bronze Age, like the ones near the river Chinge (3) and at Mugur-Sargol (4) . Another group is formed by animals in the Sakian animal style at Bizhiktig Khaya (5) , Mozola-Khomuzadyg (6) and Malyy-Kol (7) . Hunting scenes, riders, and men with yaks as carriers appear and might pertain to a later period.

Three sites were republished in 1994 as Oglakhty I-III (1) in Khakasia. There are several pictures of cattle believed to be of Palaeolithic Age (2) . The majority of the scratchings are from the 1 st millennium BC, and some are typical of the Siberian animal style, as the man holding the reins of two horses (3) at Oglakhty I or the sitting goat at the same site. Other animals were picked completely or represented with atypical contours. They remind the “skeleton” style from the Far East.

Oglakhty, Tenisei – Tuva, animals, some in “skeleton style”

The rock art of the river Tom was known since the 17 th century, but in the fifties of this century there were published new sites. Okladnikov tried to differentiate drawings from the 4 th to the 1 st millennia BC. The main motif is again the elk in several postures showing that this animal (1) had been of central importance in the whole forest area in Northern Asia. The human figures seem to be connected with the pictures of the elks. A part of the elks are shown as dying hit by javelins and arrows (2) and others seem to be tamed.

Besides the elk also owls (3) , bears (4) , herons, and other beasts are represented. Some stylised masks (5) and boats recall the eastern rock art.

VI. Ferghana

The most prominent site in the Ferghana valley is Saimaly-Tash with more than 100000 glyphs. They include ploughing scenes, wild and domesticated animals (1) , and hunting chariots. They are dated from the Bronze Age to the end of the 1 st millennium BC (2) . At Aravan two fine horses were found. In Airymach-Tau near Osh similar pictures of horses from the 1 st millennium BC were found.

Saimaly-Tash, Ferghana, ploughing scenes and hunting chariots

VII. Kazakhstan

The big area of Kazakhstan has in its eastern and southern parts long ranges of mountains showing many petroglyphs. Hundreds of sites has been already published. The drawings are relatively uniform and date to the 2 nd and the 1 st millennia BC. Besides them an unknown number of scratchings from a later time were found, in the region between the river Irtysh and the lake Balkhash down to the Syr Darya and in the area north-east of the lake Aral. One region should be referred, too, as an example – the Karatau ridge in Southern Kasakhstan (1) . 2300 slabs with about 6100 scenes or motives were discovered. The oldest group are the carriages used for hunting and war. We have 49 cars depictions from several sites, between them Koybagar II (2) .

Koybagar, hunting chariots

The publishers believe that the cattle on the glyphs represent wild beasts, because they were part of hunting scenes (3) . The hunters shoot on goats, birds, and men (4) as at Koybagar II. The camels are frequently shown domesticated like the numerous dogs (5) in Arpauzen III. In the Semireche a man (?) with a sun as head appears in several sites as at Tamgaly (6) . These pictures are explained as a Mithras-like god (7) .

Arpauzen, hunting chariots

Pictures believed to have been made in the 1 st millennium BC are less important, while dancing groups are difficult to be dated. The later rock art continued to the 20th century AD. Buddhist images with inscriptions were found in the Kapchagay ravine and are thought to be made in the 2 nd century AD (8) – a doubtful date.

Burchard Brentjes
Eberhardstr.3
D :10367 Berlin

I. Far East – Lower Amur

  1. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Plate 16-22, 24-25, 30,33-37, 40-42, 44-49, 51-57, 60-70, 76-79, 81-86, 88 r, 98-99, 103-104,107,109-126, 128-135, 137
  2. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Plate 15,23,43,100-102,127,137
  3. Okladnikov, Amura 197 1, Plate 1 1, 12
  4. Okladnikov, Amiira 1971, Plate 28,39
  5. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Plate 29
  6. Okladnikov, Amura 197 1, Plate 43
  7. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Plate 73
  8. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Plate 72,74,75
  9. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Plate 78
  10. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Plate 80
  11. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Taf.87-88
  12. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Plate 96-97
  13. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Plate 128-129
  14. Okladnikov, Amura 1971, Plate 138-141

II. Yakutia and Buryatia

1. Rock art in the Lena area

  1. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 156
  2. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 178-193
  3. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 29,31-49, 54 a.o.
  4. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 49-50, 56, 58,65 a.o.
  5. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 43,81-84 a.o.
  6. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 127-128,130,132
  7. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 155
  8. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 155,189 a.o.
  9. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 156
  10. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 56
  11. Okladnikov, Lena, 1977, Plate 98

2. Rock art besides the Baikal

  1. Okladnikov, Sibirii, 1974, Plate 4-10,19
  2. Okladnikov, Sibirii, 1974, Plate II, 12,13,14,15
  3. Okladnikov, Sibirii, 1974, Plate 25-26
  4. Okladnikov, Sibirii, 1974, Plate 11-12
  1. Okladnikov, Zaporozhskaya,Petroglify, 1970, Plate 18
  2. Okladnikov, Zaporozhskaya,Petroglify, 1970, Plate 60,63,65

4. The region of the Angara

  1. Okladnikov, Angary, 1966, Plate 120,11,19,20,22-26,34-38,50-75,130,153-156
  2. Okladnikov, Angary, 1966, Plate 28,44,45,47,60,91
  3. Okladnikov, Angary, 1966, Plate 65,68,76
  4. Okladnikov, Angary, 1966, Plate 1,3,4?,8,9,16,95,105,109,156 a.o.
  5. Okladnikov, Angary, 1966, Plate 8,9,11
  6. Okladnikov, Angary, 1966, Plate 13
  7. Okladnikov, Angary, 1966, Plate 32-33
  8. Okladnikov, Angary, 1966, Plate 38-39
  9. Okladnikov, Angary, 1966, Plate 82-85,88,90
  10. Okladnikov, Angary, 1966, Plate 159,161.168

III. Mongolia

  1. Okladnikov, Chulatyn Gola, 1981
  2. Okladnikov, Chulatyn Gola, 198 1, Plate 27 a. o.
  3. Okladnikov,A.P.: Central (1)no-asiatskiy Ochag pervobytnogo iskussvta, Novosibirsk 1972
  4. Okladnikov, 1972, to p. 20. Plate 3 and 4
  5. Okladnikov, 1972, to p. 21, fig. 20
  6. Okladnikov, 1972, to p. 24
  7. Novgorodova, 1980, p. 45
  8. Novgorodova, 1980, p. 51-53
  9. Novgorodova, 1980, p. 78-80
  10. Novgorodova, 1980, p. 78
  11. Novgorodova, 1980, p. 104
  12. Novgorodova, 1980, p. 214-215
  13. Novgorodova, 1980, fig. 217
  14. Okladnikov, A.P.: Petroglify central (1)noy Azii. Leningrad 1980
  15. Novgorodova, E.A.: Mir petroglifov Mongolii. Moscow 1984

IV. Altai – Tuva

  1. Okladnikov a. o., Elangash, 1979, Plate 2, 1 5,5 8,5 10, 23,6 24,2 3 2, 1 3 5,3 8,61,62, 84, I 86, 87,289,1
  2. Okladnikov a.o., Elangash,1979, Plate 4, 7,5 8,6,7 9,1,2,4 10, 32,1 33,34,35, 36,1 37,7 40, 41,42,4 48,3 52,54,8 59,3 66,1 76,1 83,1
  3. Okladnikov a.o., Elangash,1979, Plate 1,3- 10,18,3-29,5-80,1,88,8
  4. Okladnikov a. o., Elangash, 1979, Plate 7,3,5 12, 1 16, 1 17,3 32, 1 3 7,2
  5. Okladnikov a.o., Elangash,1979, Plate 89,1
  6. Okladnikov a. o., Elangash, 1979, Plate 68,1
  7. Okladnikov a. o., Elangash, 1979, Plate 3 0, 72, 74, 1 88 a. o.
  8. Okladnikov a. o., Elangash, 1979, Plate 1
  9. Okladnikov a.o., Elangash, 1979, Plate 18,1
  10. Okladnikov a. o., Elangash,1979, Plate 13, 28
  11. Okladnikov a.o., Petroglify, 1980, Plate 41
  12. Okladnikov a.o., Petroglify,1980, Plate 42,43,45,72,79,80
  13. Okladnikov a.o., Petroglify,1980, Plate 65,1
  14. Okladnikov a.o., Petroglify, 1980, Plate 70, 71

2. Middle Katun in Central Altai

  1. Devlet, M.A.: Petgroglify na kochevoy trone. Moscow 1982
  2. Devlet, 1982, Plate 1,2, fig. 8
  3. Devlet, 1982, Plate 9
  4. Devlet, 1982, Plate 10
  5. Devlet, 1982, Plate II
  6. Devlet, 1982, Plate 14
  7. Devlet, 1982, Plate 25-26
  8. Devlet, 1982, Plate 28-30

V. Yenisei and Tom

  1. Devlet, M.A. : Petroglify Ulug-Khema. Moscow 1976, fig. 4-7, 10-20, 68 a. o.
  2. Devlet, 1976, Plate 16,17
  3. Devlet, 1976, Plate 39,3
  4. Devlet, 1976, Plate 29
  5. Devlet, 1976, Plate 44,51,52
  6. Devlet, 1976, Plate 53,54
  7. Devlet, 1976, Plate 55
  1. Sher, J., Blednova, N., Leglido N. and D. Smimov: Repertoire des petroglyphs d (1)Asie Centrale. In: Memoires de la Mission arch6ologique frangaise en Asie Centrale, T. V, 1, Paris 1994
  2. Sher a.o.,1994, fig. 8,1
  3. Sher a. o., 1994, fig. IO, 1
  4. Sher a. o., 1994, fig. 2 1, I
  1. Okladnikov, Martynov, Sokrovishcha, 1972, Plate 8,32,33 a.o.
  2. Okladnikov, Martynov, Sokrovishcha, 1972, Plate 48,56
  3. Okladnikov, Martynov, Sokrovishcha, 1972, Plate 22
  4. Okladnikov, Martynov, Sokrovishcha, 1972, Plate 98
  5. Okladnikov, Martynov, Sokrovishcha, 1972, Plate 123

VI. Ferghana

  1. Bernshtam 1952
  2. Kuz (1)mina, E.E.: Drevnejshic skotovody ot Urala do Tjank-Shana. Frunze 1986, fig. 36,5-6, 37, 2,4,5,6

VII. Kasakhstan

  1. Kadyrbaev, M. K. and A.N.Mar (1)yashev: Naskal (1)nye izobrazheniya Khrepta Karatau, Alma Ata 1977
  2. Kadyrbaev and Mar (1)yashev, Karatau, 1977, fig. 22
  3. Kadyrbaev and Mar (1)yashev, Karatau, 1977, fig. 24
  4. Kadyrbaev and Mar (1)yashev, Karatau, 1977, fig. 23
  5. Kadyrbaev and Mar (1)yashev, Karatau, 1977, fig. 58
  6. Agapov P. and M. Kadyrbaev: Sokrovishcha drevnogo Kazakhstana. Alma Ata 1979, p.138,143
  7. Nurmukhammedov, N.B.: Iskusstvo Kazakhstana. Moscow 1970, Plate 6
  8. Nurmukhammedov, Iskusstvo, 1970, Plate 36

Literature

AGAPOV, P. und M.K. KADYRBAEV: Sokrovishcha drevnego Kazakhstana. Alma Ata 1979
BERNSHTAM, A.N.: Istoriko-arkheologicheskiye Ocherki Central’nogo Tyan-Shana i Pamiro-Alaya. In: MIA, 26, Moscow 1952
DEVIET, M.A.: Petroglify Ulug-Khema. Moscow 1976
DEVLET, M.A.: Petroglify na Kochevoy trone. Moscow 1982
KADYRBAEV, M.K. and A.N. MAR’YASHEV: Naskalnye izobrazheniya Khrepta Karatau. Alma Ata 1977
KUZ’MINA, E.E.: Drevneyskie skotovody ot Urala do Tyan’-Shana. Frunze 1986
NOVGOROVA, E.: Alte Kunter der Mongolei. Leipzig 1980
NOVGORODOVA, E.: Mir petroglifov Mongolii. Moscow 1984
NURMUKHAMAMEDOV. N.B.: Iskusstvo Kazakhstana. Moscow 1970
OKLADNIKOV, A.P.: Petroglify Angary. Moscow – Leningrad 1966
OKLADNIKOV, A.P. and V.A. ZAPOROZHSKAYA: Petroglify Zabay’kalya, Vol. I and 2. Leningrad 1970
OKLADNIKOV, A.P.: Central’noaziatskiy Ochag pervobytnogo iskusstva. Novosibirks 1972
OKLADNIKOV, A.P. and A.I. MARTYNOV: Sokrovishcha Tomskikh Pisanic. Moscow 1972
OKLADNIKOV, A.P.: Petroglify Baykala – pamjatniki drevney kul’tury narodov Sibirii. Novosibirks 1974
OKLADNIKOV, A.P.: Petroglify Verkhney Leny. Leningrad 1977
OKLADNIKOV, A.P., OKLADNIKOVA, E.A., ZAPOROZHSKAYA, V.D. and E.A. SKORYNINA: Petroglify doliny reki Elangash (yug Gornogo Altaya). Novosibirsk 1979
OKLADNIKOV, A.P., OKLADNIKOVA, E.A., ZAPOROZHSKAYA, V.D. and E.A. SKORYNINA: Petroglify Gornoge Altaya. Novosibirsk 1980
OKLADNIKOV, A.P.: Petroglify Central’noy Azii. Leningrad 1980
OKLADNIKOV, A.P.: Petroglify Khulutyn Gola (Mongolia). Novosibirsk 1981 Okladnikov, A.P.: Ancient Art of the Amur Region. Leningrad 1981
OKLADNIKOVA, E.A.: Petroglify Sredney Katuni. Novosibirsk 1984
SHER, J.: Petroglify Sredney i Central’noy Azii. Moscow 1980
SHER, J., BLEDNOVA, N., LEGLICHO, N. and D. SMIMOV: Repertoires des petroglyphes d’Asie centrale. In: “Memoires de la Mission archéologique française en Asie centrale”, T. V, 1, Paris 1994


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I am currently researching a cultural history of the polar bear (for the University of Washington Press) and was wondering if someone knows of any Siberian rock art images that could be polar bears (other than the Pegtymel petroglyphs). Please contact me if yes.

Best,
Michael Engelhard
(in Nome, Alaska)

Dear Michael – this from Siberia around 3500 BC:

Here is one from Scandinavia:

The large panel from Kameni 7 at Kanozero/Russia with tracks and a large bear on the right…

Here is a noted bibliography on ber petroglyphs:

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Bäckman, L., 1983. Förfäderskult: en studie i samernas för-hållande til sine avlidna, in LASTA SáDS Áigecála, ed. E. Helander. Umeå: Samiska Forskarsamfundet, 11–48.
Bäckman, L., 2000. Björnen i samisk tradition, in SamiskEtnobiologi: Människor, Djur och Väster i Norr, eds. I. Svanberg & H. Túnonen. Falun: Nya Doxa, 216–26.
Bäckman, L. & Å.Hultkrantz (eds. ), 1978. Studies in LappShamanism. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.
Bäckman, L. & Å.Hultkrantz (eds. ), 1985. Saami Pre-ChristianReligion: Studies on the Oldest Traces of Religion Amongthe Saamis. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell Interna-tional.
Bakka, E., 1988. Helleristningane på Hammer i Beitstad, Steinkjer, Nord-Trøndelag: Granskingar i 1977 og 1981. Trondheim: Universitetet iTrondheim, Vitenskapsmuseet.
Balzer, M. M., 1996. Sacred genders in Siberia: shamans, bearfestivals, and androgyny, in Gender Reversals and Gen-der Cultures: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, ed. S. P. Ramet. London: Routledge, 164–82.
Baudou, E., 1977. Den förhistoriska fångstkulturen i Väster-norrland, in Västernorrlands Förhistoria, eds. E. Bandou& K.— G. Selinge. Härnösand: Västernorrlands länsLandsting, 15–152.
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Helskog, K., B. Hood & V. Shumkin, in prep. Dwelling Formsand Settlement Patterns on Russia’s Kola PeninsulaCoast, 2200–1500 cal bc.
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That’s it for today. Hope I have been of some help to you. Mx name is Hans Oswald from regensburg/Bavaria. If you go to etsy.com and look there for my shop MysticArtworks you find what I do for a hobby: Petroglyphs and stuff.

You write about brars, I engrave and paint them! hahaha – it’s a small world.


“The Rock That Tells a Story”: Native American petroglyphs in Utah and Arizona depict lives of centuries ago

It’s all the news that’s fit to print–2,000 years’ worth of it, in fact–crammed on a 200-square-foot surface. Now if we only knew how to read it.

Newspaper Rock is a sandstone panel in San Juan County, Utah, that is covered with hundreds of petroglyphs. Snakes and broad-shouldered animal-headed men are crammed in with shapes that resemble wagon wheels, bighorn sheep, lizards, and turtles. Men on horseback are also shown late in the art’s history–starting about 650 years ago.

Herds of deer and lone bison dodge hunters and oversized human footprints stride carefully through it all.

The art was made by using a sharp object to peck away the desert varnish, a hard, dark film of oxidation that forms on rock in the arid Southwest. The lighter cream-colored rock beneath glows brightly still, making for a dramatic picture.

So who made it? Some of the area’s earliest dwellers. Archaeologists say the artwork was carved by Native Americans in both prehistoric and early historic periods.

USA, Utah, Canyonlands National Park, newspaper rock petroglyphs

The work has been attributed to peoples from the Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Anglo, and Pueblo cultures, and while rock art is difficult to date, evidence indicates that the first engravings were done about 2,000 years ago. Many of the clans and cultures that produced it are gone the story of what happened to them is lost to the desert winds.

The Navajo are still in the area, and they have their own name for the site. They call it “Tse’ Hone”–the rock that tells a story.

Newspaper Rock is a well known petroglyph site located in southcentral Utah.

Rock art sites can be found all across the Desert Southwest, some of them nothing more than a hand print or a few scratches and many of them tucked in discreet places, such as under a small rock ledge.

Newspaper Rock is the motherlode of such work. It checks all of the boxes on a park ranger’s or archaeologist’s dream list: it’s well-preserved, easily accessible, and one of the largest groups of pictographs found in the world. More than 650 images have been identified.

“Detail of petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock in Utah, near the entrance to Canyonlands National Park.”

While the cream-colored Wingate sandstone provides good contrast against the desert varnish canvas, some of the older art samples are darkening, disappearing in time under the desert varnish that is taking hold where it had once been chipped away.

Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument in Utah, USA. One of largest known collections of petroglyphs.

Newspaper Rock was designated a state historic monument in 1961. In 1976, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Indian Creek State Park.

Luckily for visitors, the site is not far from the well-traveled access road to the popular Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. It’s also just over 50 miles from Moab, Utah.

Newspaper rock is a protected wall with ancient Anasazi Indian petroglyphs

It’s hard not to be mesmerized by the images left so long ago, and there’s good “news” for those who really want to see more. There’s actually another Newspaper Rock, this one in Arizona. It’s part of the Petrified Forest National Park in the northeast part of that state.

As with the Utah site, there are about 650 different images, but there are also key differences. In Arizona, for instance, the “newspaper” is on more than one rock, although the rocks are grouped near each other.

Still, the large collection of images is impressive.

Canyonlands National Park: Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument is a Utah state monument featuring a rock panel carved with one of the largest known collections of petroglyphs. It is located in San Juan County, Utah

In some cases, people who stop in to see the petrified wood that gives the national park its name have no idea that the petroglyph collection is part of the park. And for many, the ancient rock art ends up overshadowing the fossilized logs and stumps lying on the edge of the Painted Desert.

As with the Utah-version, the Arizona images have varied style, indicating an array of artists and periods. It’s hard to pin down where they all came from, but experts believe many came from the nearby Puerco Pueblo. Some of the rock art samples are believed to indicate calendar events, family and clan symbols, territory markers, and even spiritual symbolism.

Terri Likensbyline has appeared in newspapers around the world through the Associated Press. She has also done work for ABCNews, the BBC, and magazines that include High Country News, American Profile and Plateau Journal. She lives just east of Nashville, Tenn.