Even more mountain art at the Altafjord

Archaeologists from Tromsø University have discovered previously unknown rock carvings on Årøya island in the Altafjord. There is also something happening at the end of the fjord: on Wednesday, 30 May, a new exhibition will open at the World Heritage Site Museum in Alta, where visitors can learn about mountain art on various levels.

Image: Panoramaleinwand.net

Rock carvings in Alta, traced with red color

The rock carvings in Alta are between 2000 and 7000 years old. They were discovered in the 1960s and 1970s – as the latest find on Årøya shows, not all of them in the area. In 1985 the sites in Alta were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The artists were hunters and catchers.

The large number of pictures – more than anywhere else in northern Europe – has led archaeologists to conclude that the area around Alta was already an important and much visited meeting place in the Stone Age. The museum’s problem so far: the mountain art on the extensive grounds by the fjord was only visible when there was no snow – and the winters in Alta on almost 70 degrees north are long. During these months many visitors come to the Finnmark for skiing and because of the aurora borealis.

The new exhibition “Spor i berg” (“Traces in the mountain”), about which Altaposten reports, will also be accessible to winter visitors. According to the project manager in the newspaper, several years have been spent working on it and she announces: “Spor i berg” offers a completely different experience than previous exhibitions and visitors will learn more about mountain art by using both hands and brains”.

World Heritage site to the Altafjord

The motifs of the recently uncovered and documented scratchings on Årøya are not yet clearly visible on the photo of the archaeologists from Tromsø published on Facebook. In Alta you can mainly see people, animals and boats from different epochs – which was part of everyday life. Some of the motifs are red, so that they can be easily seen even in bad weather. Others remained natural on the cleaned rock.

  • Originally, according to archaeologists, all these pictures were placed at beach level.
  • That they are further up the slope today is due to the land uplift that began after the end of the Ice Age.
  • The further up the incisions are, the older they are.


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