Communicating with the World of Beings: The World Heritage rock art sites in Alta, Arctic Norway [Hardback]

Knut Helskog (Author)

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ISBN: 9781782974116 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2014 | Language: English 240p, H300 x W270 (mm) Colour illustrated throughout



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Communicating with the World of Beings

Details

The rock art found in the World Heritage sites in the Alta area, Arctic Norway, comprise thousands of images including reindeer and elk as well as fish, birds, boats, humans and geometric patterns. They contain information about peoples who lived in this northern area from about 5000 BC up until the birth of Christ; such as possible social organizations, hunting and trapping, beliefs, rituals,stories, legends, myths, cultural changes and continuities.

Communicating with the world of beings addresses an understanding of the rock art in terms of communication with other people and other than-human beings. The figures could have been seen and experienced as symbols in rituals or as expressions of identity, position, power and rights, as depictions of real events and perhaps for use in storytelling. Through rock art, people might also have been able to communicate with other-than-human beings who ruled parts of the environment – in order to petition favors for themselves or others. These other-than-human beings may have been perceived as good and evil powers and spirits of the different worlds of the universe; the dead or souls; which also included the animals depicted or were even embodied in the stone.

This communication may have been based on a belief that both living beings and inert objects and natural phenomena had souls, a belief that may have existed ever since the earliest settlements. Such an animistic belief means that everything was seen as having a consciousness and identity of its own, independent and imbued with a will. Therefore, it was essential that the different participants communicated with one another as equal partners.

In this beautifully illustrated book Knut Helskog provides a lyrical and personal interpretation of the chronology, patterning and possible meanings behind this extraordinary landscape of prehistoric rock art.

Table of Contents

FOREWORD
INTRODUCTION
THE WORLD OF BEINGS
THE NATURAL SURROUNDINGS
AGE
MAKING ROCK ART
PERIOD I
PERIOD II
Human Figures
Reindeer
Elk
Bear
Other land animals and birds
Fish and sea mammals
Boats
Equipment
Abstract Figures
Summary
PERIOD III
Human Figures
Reindeer
Elk
Bear
Birds
Fish and sea mammals
Boats
Equipment
Abstract Figures
Summary
PERIOD IV
Human Figures
Reindeer
Other members of the deer family
Bear
Other animals and fish
Abstract Figures
Summary
PERIOD V
Human Figures
Reindeer and Elk
Other animals
Boats
Summary
PERIOD VI
PAINTINGS
A NORTHERN FENNOSCANDIAN PERSPECTIVE
FINAL PHASE OF ROCK ART
WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE IN ALTA
References

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