Snowscapes of Rock Art: Seasons and Seasonality of Stone Age Rock Art in Northernmost Europe

Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art - Jan Magne Gjerde

Jan Magne Gjerde [+-]
Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research
Jan Magne Gjerde is Researcher in Archaeology at the High North Department in Tromsø at NIKU (Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research). Gjerde has a PhD in Stone Age rock art of Fennoscandia with extensive fieldwork in Finland, Norway, NW-Russia and Sweden. Gjerde has in the last years published several papers on Fennoscandian Stone Age rock art. He also led the large-scale Stone Age excavations at Tønsnes, Northern Norway in 2011 and 2012. Gjerde is currently working on the project “Stone Age Demographics: Multi-scale exploration of population variation and dynamics” (2017-2021) funded by the Norwegian Research Council.


Natural temporal changes in the landscape were of vital importance for hunter-fisher-gatherers in the circumpolar area. The natural surroundings, the activities and way of living of the hunter-fisher-gatherers would change dramatically with the seasons of the year. These changes are represented in the rock art by depictions of “seasonal” or migrating animals indicating time of year. The majority of Stone Age rock art sites would have been accessible throughout the year. Those in the tidal zone and near rapids would be free of snow during the winter months, while the paintings on vertical rock cliffs would be exposed and even more visible and accessible in winter. Based on comprehensive fieldwork in Fennoscandia studying rock art sites and their location, I furthermore argue that temporal changes in nature have implications for the documentation and interpretation of rock art and rock art sites, landscapes and geographical knowledge during the Stone Age of northernmost Europe.

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Gjerde, Jan Magne. Snowscapes of Rock Art: Seasons and Seasonality of Stone Age Rock Art in Northernmost Europe. Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Nov 2020. ISBN 9781781795606. Date accessed: 05 Jun 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.31912. Nov 2020

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