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Elk Heads at Sea: Maritime Hunters and Long-Distance Boat Journeys in Late Stone Age Fennoscandia

Journal article
Authors Bettina Schulz Paulsson
Christian Isendahl
Fredrik Frykman Markurth
Published in Oxford Journal of Archaeology
Volume 38
Issue 4
Pages 398-419
ISSN 0262-5253
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Historical Studies
Pages 398-419
Language en
Subject categories History and Archaeology


Tumlehed is the most well-preserved and complex prehistoric rock painting in the coastal region of south-west Sweden. Originally reported and described in 1974, we re-documented the panel using digital and IR photography, DStretch image enhancement software, and non-destructive PXRF spectroscopy. This re-documentation revealed a more complex image inventory with several previously unknown motifs and image details. The new data provide a better basis for identifying motif categories, the organization of the panel, the chronological sequence, and different frequentation periods. We report on the only known boats with an elk-head stem in southern and western Scandinavian rock art, the emergence of rock art boat depictions in the region, and evidence for longdistance maritime journeys and sea-mammal hunting in the later Stone Age. Comparisons to similar images with shoreline data in Fennoscandia narrow the time range for the date of the painting to 4200–2500 BC.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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