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Articles: Adoranten 2023

A “Lascaux open air site” in the Swiss Alps by Ingmar M. Braun and Thomas Reitmaier
In 2020 several rocks with painted representations of animals and a few human beings were discovered in a forest in the Valle Mesolcina in the Swiss Canton of Grisons. An initial inspection on site quickly revealed that these were not original prehistoric rock paintings, but modern copies closely based on well-known motifs. The rock paintings were documented photographically and recorded as “archaeological” sites. Subsequently attempts were made to identify the artist. Thanks to local contacts it was possible to discover the creator of the “prehistoric” rock paintings, which he made in the year 2000. In spring 2020 the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Grisons (Switzerland) received information of a new find by two archaeologists working in the neighbouring Canton of Ticino, Giorgio Noghara and Christian Bader. In the Valle Mesolcina/Misox, a valley in the Italian-speaking south of the canton, apparently ancient paintings were discovered on various rocks in a forest above Pian San Giacomo. Initial photos immediately showed that these paintings were very similar to those from the Upper Palaeolithic. But was such a thing possible in the Canton of Grisons, in the middle of the Alps, original rock art of the Upper Palaeolithic?

Art and Awe in Secret Societies: A Case Study of the Petroglyph Site at Thorsen Creek, British Columbia by Brian Hayden, Brenda Gould, Richard J. Chacon, Johan Ling, Yamilette Chacon and Cecilia Lindh
The origin of art has been an enduring issue in archaeology since the nineteenth century with many contending theories. While we are not concerned here with the origins of simple image-making (images consisting of patterned scratches or minimal representations), we would like to propose that one important reason for the elaboration and widespread use of more labor intensive and complex images--especially those requiring considerable time, effort, and training--may be the need for impressive images by traditional secret societies. We document such elaborations ethnographically and point out the inherent reasons for investing in them by secret societies. Beginning with complex hunter/gatherers, secret societies had the motivations, the resources, and the psychological insights to develop sophisticated art and architecture, resulting in some of the most impressive displays in prehistory. We use the remarkable petroglyph site of Thorsen Creek in British Columbia as a prime case study. Keywords: art, awe, prehistory, secret societies, Northwest Coast, petroglyphs

Early Lurs from the Nordic Bronze Age and Living Indian Metal Horns by Matthias Leven and Meenakshi Dubey-Pathak
From the Nordic Bronze Age periods II-IV we have findings of early forerunners of the first European brass instruments, the first smaller bronze lurs. None of these instruments is in such a state of preservation that musical capabilities or sounding could be investigated. In this work we have made brass-replicas of four different lur findings from Rørlykke Mose, Påarp, Gullåkra Mose and Hindby and investigated their musical properties. It was found that these instruments are limited to very discrete types of playing techniques by physical laws of wave mechanics and that they must have been purposefully designed for specific musical applications each. A search for similar still existing instruments which fulfil similar physical boundaries has revealed an extremely high similarity for a variety metal horns from the traditional India. Comparative studies have been performed by blowing experiments and sonographic measurements to give a plausible reconstruction how the earlier Bronze Age lurs must have been used and how they have sounded.

Gods and Animals in Disguise. An analysis of Rock Art and iconography in Southwestern Norway by Gitte Kjeldsen and Kristine Orestad Sørgaard
From Rock Art to figurines, the Nordic Bronze Age (NBA) is rich in iconography and symbolism. It produced some of the most magnificent works of prehistoric art, such as the Trundholm Sun Chariot, the bronze lurs and the Fårdal figurines. Along with many others, these artworks provide important insight into Bronze Age cosmology, ritual and religion. Focusing specifically on the petroglyphs of Southwestern Norway, we argue that Rock Art and iconography played an important constitutive role in creating, maintaining, and transforming beliefs that would have been abstract and disembodied otherwise. Furthermore, we stress the importance of Rock Art in exploring hybrid identities. By combining elements from the worlds of animals, spirits and humans, Rock Art allowed for the perception of realities normally hidden from view. Keywords: Nordic Bronze Age, mythic animals, hybrids, shamanism.

Making rock images. Experimental Archaeology as a Method for understanding Prehistoric Rock Art Production by Mari Strifeldt Arntzen
Rock art has been widely studied within archaeology, typically with a particular emphasis on their iconographical expression and potential narrative meaning. By contrast, scholars have shown less interest in the processes underlying their creation. For example, the preparations for rock art production such as the selection of appropriate panels, selection of production tools, what material the tools were made of and where they came from. The present article seeks to cast light on such processes, with a focus on how the practical work of making figurative images in panels and surfaces of different rock types and geological characteristics are done.
The geology in Alta varies between the different rock art sites and panels. Because of this variation, as well as the different properties of the rocks themselves, it seems likely that the rock art makers of the past needed to differentiate the choice and selection of tools involved in the rock art production. The difference between sites makes it natural to assume that the handling of the different tools would also have been quite dissimilar. It is common knowledge within the archaeological field that the most common methods for rock art production has either been by striking the rock surface directly, with a stone hammer, or chisel or alternatively indirectly, applying a mallet to strike a stone chisel.

The elk in Northern European rock art by Ville Mantere
The hunter-gatherer rock art of Northern Europe is heavily focused on animal depictions. Of all the animal species represented in the imagery, the single most important is undoubtedly the Eurasian elk (Alces alces). This animal was depicted in rock art across the Fennoscandian Peninsula at widely different locations throughout the Stone Age. According to a “careful estimate” by Gjerde (2010:176), the hunter-gatherer rock art of northern Fennoscandia consists of more than 300 individual sites (fig 1). At least half of these sites are likely to comprise depictions of elk. Even if other animals are in some places more common, the overall number, and the geographical distribution of rock art sites with elk depictions in Northern Europe is striking (Gjerde 2018:213).

The Gaze of the Meliks. Tracing connections and patterns in a petroglyph scene in the Eastern Taurus by Kristian Alex Larsen
In the Eastern Taurus Mountains of South-Eastern Turkey are found several petroglyph fields. One of them is in the plain of Tirsin almost 3000 meters above sea-level. Expeditions led by Muvaffak Uyanik in the late sixties disclosed the petroglyphs and they were published a few years later. Since then, no extensive research has been done in the area. The petroglyphs are organised in scenes, and exhibits a variety of animals and anthropomorphic figures. None of them has been successfully dated. One of the petroglyph scenes is analysed by using the approach of agential realism. This approach focuses on the totality of the petroglyph scene and makes productive use of minute details, that might otherwise be deemed insignificant. The analysis reveals a composition of three extraordinary animals gazing at what seems to be a human. Underneath, two ordinary goats are mirroring each other; one ascends and one descends, the latter appears to have killed the human. It is suggested that the scene is about powerful kings or gods confronting a human, who is transgressing the boundaries of a sacred territory. A number of sub-variants of the hypothesis are formulated and offered in order to be used for further research.

Tracing the carvers on the rocks by Carina Liebl, Mark Peternell, Johan Ling, Cecilia Lindhé, Christian Horn, Ellen Meijer, Julian Moyano
Rock Art has been used as evidence to discuss ideas about ideology, religion, long distance trade, warfare, landscapes, and social organization. However, very little focus has been paid to the rock art carvers themselves and the study of rock art has been hampered by the fact that the process of producing the art itself is hardly ever explained. Currently, the knowledge about carving techniques is limited. This means, we lack information that could help us to forward theories about the social roles, technical skills and scientific knowledge of carvers in Bronze Age society. Consequently, the main objective with this project (VR 2020-03817) is to enhance our knowledge about the Bronze Age carvers. The project employs a variety of strands and methods, including training AI algorithms to recognize and quantify motifs and style variations, superimpositions, and granite rock and grain structures; however, this study will focus on the techniques and choice of bedrock used to create the rock art in the World Heritage of Tanum. Note that we use the concepts “carve, carving “ or “carvers” instead of pecking or peckers, a concept criticised by earlier attempts and scholars (Goldhahn & Ling 2013; Lødøen 2015). However, we hold that this concept is relevant to the observations we have made within this study, and we will discuss this more in depth in the concluding section of this paper.