University of Gothenburg

Swedish Rock Art Research Archives


Swedish Rock Art Research Archives (SHFA) is a research infrastructure at the University of Gothenburg established in 2017. Europewide it is the largest research infrastructure providing researchers, education and the public with modern high quality and historic rock art documentation.

Currently we store c. 120 000 in our database including 3D files, images, and documents from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Italy, and Spain. Since its launch in 2011, the online database has had over 2.2 million visitors. We are working with 40 collaborates linked to national and international infrastructures in fourteen different countries.

For sixteen years, SHFA has spearheaded rock art documentation and research including digital documentation, artificial intelligence, and cross-cultural comparison. Currently, SHFA has a number of externally funded research projects.


The rich imagery of the Scandinavian rock art is world-famous, and the Swedish Rock Art Research Archives (SHFA) secures digital free access to documentation of this cultural heritage for researchers and the public. SHFA digitizes historical documentations which were made on sensitive materials that are not easily accesible and  stored in  different institutions throughout Sweden.   

Since its foundation in 2007, SHFA has been a modern infrastructure focussed on digitizing, long-term storage and archiving the documentation of the prehistoric images while simultaneously spearheading the development of documentation methods which ultimately boosts rock art research. Free access under a creative commons license model is secured through a database with an online interface. We are digitizing historical documents including photographs, plaster casts, tracings on plastic and paper, rubbings, maps, and written descriptions distributed over more than 100 institutions in Sweden and Europe.  In addition, SHFA is one of the global driving forces in using 3D methods documenting hundreds of sites with laser scanning and photogrammetry. 

Since its beginnings SHFA has expanded beyond Sweden and today includes material from Denmark, Italy, Norway and Spain. In 2023 SHFA increased as an infrastructure by incorporating petroglyphs from Lake Onega in Russia and Austria. Today, we have digitized over 100,000 documentations of which more than a quarter is freely accessible through our webportal. Since its launch in 2011, the website had over 2.2 million visitors from over 120 countries.

This stunning success has helped SHFA in recent years to secure funding for six research projects with over 80 million SEK with collaborators from 14 different nations.  

Photo: Christian Horn