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Articles: Adoranten 2009

Dating rock art paintings in Serra de Capivara National Park. Combined archaeometric techniques by Anne-Marie Pessis and Niède Guidon
Dating the rock art paintings in Serra da Capivara National Park precisely and reliably, is still not possible, however, different techniques used on samples from the sites have provided numerous results. Multiple dating and sampling techniques have demonstrated how important it is to adapt the process to the circumstances and specific conditions of each site. Dating rock art by a method constructed by a combination of several archaeometric processes is here exemplified by Toca do Serrote da Bastiana.
Situated in north eastern Brazil and south-eastern Piaui, the Serra da Capivara National Park occupies 130000 hectares land on a geological border, where a “cuesta” front separates two great formations: the peripheral plain of Sao Francisco river and the sedimentary basin of Piaui-Maranhão. Read the article as pdf

Graffiti or rock carvings? By Jean Marie Guastavino
New rock carvings or graffiti have been identified and documented by the “Lysekils Vänner” association in Lysekil. Signs indicating their location have been posted on Långeviksdalen, a small road in Lysekil, leading to the seashore. These rock carvings were produced in 1914 by two young boys aged 15, inspired by the American dream. Sven Hård, who lived a few hundred meters away and Just Malmström expressed their thirst for adventure by carving various representations of objects, animals and human beings, namely boats, horses, Native Americans and cowboys. At this time, unemployment in Sweden was giving rise to massive expatriation to the US. Read the article as pdf

Rock art for the dead and un-dead. Reflections on the significance of hand stones in Late Bronze Age Scandinavia by Joakim Goldhahn
Only a few if any South Scandinavian Bronze Age rock art images are as enigmatic as the 27 hand stones found at various sites in Denmark, in northern Bohuslän in Sweden and in Østfold in Norway. The reason is first and foremost that the iconography is quite homogeneous. They almost exclusively show a raised hand with the thumb placed at an angle of approximately 90 degrees. Four dashes are placed above the fingers. The palm is often pecked somewhat deeper and may therefore be the image of a right hand. All similar hand images are made on portable slabs. Hand stones found in archaeological contexts all seem to belong to the sphere of death. Most of them appear as cover slabs used in relation with cremation burials. Read the article as pdf

Rock Art. An attempt to understand rock art motifs through ancient literature, epics of creation and the history of metals by Helena Forshell
IN WORKS AND DAYS (probably written down in the 9th century B.C.) by the Greek Hesiod, the first humans are described as a golden race, ”living like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep … they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint”. “The second generation which was of silver was less noble by far … The third generation, that of bronze, was violent, ”… When Hesiod describes the first three generations as gold, silver and copper/bronze, he alludes to metals, which were introduced at different times. He possibly also believes that the different properties of the metals may have brought about the growing cruelty and greed of man. In which way may the social behaviour of man be influenced by the availability of metals and knowledge of their properties? Read the article as pdf

Seductive Similarities. A Comment on Gerum, Trans-Atlantic Contacts, and Analogies by Jesper Nielsen, Thore Bjørnvig & Toke Sellner Reunert
In 1991 Dietrich Evers published an article in Adoranten in which he considered the possibility of Scandinavian Bronze Age seafarers reaching the North American continent. According to Evers evidence suggests that the ancient Scandinavians came into contact with the civilizations of Mesoamerica and stayed there temporarily. Here they witnessed an impressive ritual – men “flying” around a tall pole, suspended in the air by ropes. The visitors returned to their own lands, in casu Bohuslän (Sweden), where they commemorated the ritual by carving a pictorial representation of it on a rock surface at Gerum (Evers 1991, see also Högberg 2000). However fascinating this scenario of Trans-Atlantic contact may be, there is no evidence to suggest it ever happened. The purpose of the present article is two-fold. First, it is a critical response to Evers’ hypothesis, and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it seeks to provide a better background for evaluating the apparent similarity between the pole ritual allegedly depicted at Gerum and the Mesoamerican volador ritual. Read the article as pdf

Spirals! Calendars in the Bronze Age in Denmark by Klavs Randsborg
The ornamentation of the bronze “drums”/thrones from Hasfalva, Hungary and Balkåkra, Scania, as well as of the two sides of the disc of the famous Sun Chariot from Trundholm, Zealand reflect the use of calendars in the Early Bronze Age. The same is the case with the spiral ornamentation of a number of fine female belt-plates contemporary with the Sunchariot: each unit = one day. When applying certain formulas, including the rank number of the ornamental zones, the sums appear to be months (in days) of three different calendars. A ten-digit numbering system is suggested.
With the two “drums”, or perhaps rather thrones, from Hasfalva in Hungary and Balkåkra in Skåne (Scania) we are in a socially highly significant sphere of long-distance exchange of cult items, and, no doubt, pertaining astronomical information. Read the article as pdf

The cave of Altamira – 22,000 years of history by José Antonio Lashera
It happened here, in Altamira, in 1880. Mankind’s first art, the oldest we know of, that known as cave art, which is preserved in Europe, was discovered, identified and published with scientific rigor in the cave of Altamira. All of this, simultaneously and for the first time, is due to Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, a methodical person, enormously curious, cultured and with diverse and profound knowledge.
The prehistory of Altamira ended about 13,000 years ago. Then the first six metres of the roof collapsed over the area that the group of Palaeolithic humans had used as a place of habitation; the opening remained closed and the cave inaccessible until its chance discovery in the second half of the XIX Century. Read the article as pdf

Tsodilo Hill, Botswana by Alec Campbell and Lawrence Robbins
The Tsodilo Hills in northwestern Botswana were listed as World Heritage in 2001 on account of their prolific rock art, some 4 000 images, 100 000-year occupation by humans, prehistoric specularite mining, early occupation by pastoral Khwe and Black farmers, spiritual importance to their modern residents and unique attributes in a land of endless sand dunes.
Tsodilo Hills are situated in a remote region of the Kalahari Desert in northwest Botswana. The Hills form a 15km-long chain of four quartzite-schist outcrops rising, the highest to 400m, above Aeolian sand dunes. Local residents of the Hills, Ju/’hoansi (Bushmen) and Hambukushu (Bantu-speaking farmers) still recognise the Hills as sacred. Read the article as pdf