...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The mental world of the Bronze Age (backlog 2 of 2)

Before anything else, I promised myself I would post this long-delayed backlog. It's autumn now so this post is really out of season... but you'll have to live with it :-)

Oh BTW Hi Kristine and hi Aiah, who dropped me notes yesterday. Glad to find out you've been reading my blog. Maybe I should really update more often! At the end of this blog I'll tell you what's coming up so I could keep you (ahem) loyal to my site. Bwahahah! Anyway, on to the blog...

Last summer, classmates Chip and Alice visited us in Norrköping and we showed them to a group of bronze age rock-carvings on a giant piece of flat rock located today in a field just a bit off the highway. The field is called Himmelstalund, and according to this site, it has the biggest rock carving in the whole of this county (Ostergötland). This is us in Himmelstalund, walking to the rock.

Across the highway is a museum dedicated to these rock-carvings. The museum contains information on the carvings (in Swedish only, though, if I remember right) and in general, how people lived in the bronze ages. It also has some replicas of bronze-age items such as helmets, swords, daggers, and wheels. Interestingly, the reason how the carvings were traced to the bronze ages in the first place was the numerous wheel- and dagger- images carved into the rock. Those images are said to be typical of the bronze age, when metal replaced rock as the material for tools.

Aside from wheels and daggers, the carvings also depict animal prints (a line of carved bear-prints lead researchers to believe that the rock must have been part of an ancient bear trail that bronze-age people recognized). There are also images of people hunting with spears, and men rowing long boats. When first found, it was thought that these images depicted real stories of men hunting and rowing. Later on though, they realized that the images could instead be pictures of the bronze age mental world, i.e. their spiritual or even their story world. One of the things that suggest this is the presence of carved footprints directly on top on some of the boats. Boats must have signified (as in Egypt), the travel from this world to the next; the number of rowers, they think, suggests the importance of the person in their society. Following this hypothesis, someone stepping on your boat to the next world must have been really serious... Perhaps the guy made enemies in life, or maybe he was a shame to some members of his society?

Some of the rock carvings. Take note of Chip's ballpen on the third picture, as reference for size.

The rock itself, by the way, is really flat and characterized by grooved stripes going in one direction. These kinds of rocks are found all over Sweden too. The reason for these formations, apparently, was the sheer weight of the ice glaciers that used to cover the land in the ice ages. Solid ice hundreds of meters tall and incredibly heavy literally packed the rocks flat. When the ice melted and moved, they created the grooves on the rocks as a result of friction. Talk about the power of nature.

Anyway, for one last note of interest, the rock carvings were discovered because they first wanted to turn that site into a trash dump. The surveyors noticed the carvings, though, which now have been painted red so they can be visible to happy tourists like us:
Coming up on next entries: Our multi-sport bike tour, and more food journals (honestly my favorite ones to write, hahaha!) Stay tuned, if you please...


Blogger riou1999 said...

COOL Pictures!!!
Amazing rock carvings. And they planned on turning it into a trash dumpsite??? Geez... thank God for those rock carvings then.

I want to see, I want to see them myself.

9:54 PM


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