Evidence for Animal Sacrifices in Front of the Rock Painting of Kotojärvi, Southeastern Finland

Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art - Jan Magne Gjerde

Antti Lahelma [+-]
University of Helsinki
Antti Lahelma is a senior lecturer in archaeology at the Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki, Finland. His core expertise lies in the study of prehistoric identity, cultural production, and worldview particularly in the northern circumpolar area - topics that are also covered in his recent book titled 'Northern Archaeology and Cosmology: a Relational View' (Routledge, 2019) written together with Vesa-Pekka Herva.


This paper discusses the underwater excavations arranged by the author in 2011 in front of the rock painting site of Kotojärvi, Southeastern Finland. The excavations yielded well-preserved unburnt bones belonging to elk and various bird species, dated to the Early Metal Period between ca. 1800 cal. BC and ca. 700 cal. BC. They are likely to be broadly contemporary with the rock paintings, and thus probably relate to ritual activities carried out at the site. In spite of modern disturbance and technical difficulties associated with the 2011 excavations, the investigations shed new light on the nature and dating of the Kotojärvi finds, which remain so far unique in Northern Europe. The animal species and body parts, which include fragments of elk skulls and bones of diver birds, do not appear randomly selected but reflect ancient Finno-Ugric or circumpolar cosmological notions.

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Lahelma, Antti. Evidence for Animal Sacrifices in Front of the Rock Painting of Kotojärvi, Southeastern Finland. Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 175-192 Jun 2021. ISBN 9781781795606. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=31920. Date accessed: 20 Apr 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.31920. Jun 2021

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