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Ships and feet in Scandinavian prehistoric rock art

Author(s): Courtney Nimura

Year: 2017

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Scandinavian rock art was created from the Late Neolithic through the Early Iron Age. The majority of these images were produced in the Bronze Age – a period when postglacial isostatic uplift altered much of the Scandinavian coastline. Although the lexicon of rock art motifs is diverse in Scandinavia, this paper will focus on two key figurative motifs: ships and human feet. It presents results from two different studies. The first is a Scandinavian-wide GIS-based analysis that explores the distributions of ships, and considers their relationship to both the societies that made them and to changing coastal environments. The second presents new data collected during fieldwork on feet images at two sites: Järrestad in southern Sweden, and Boglösa in central Sweden. These two projects employ different methodologies, yet they can both be used to pose a series of questions regarding the meaning and potential significance of human feet and ship motifs. A wide range of ideas and interpretations are explored, from visual punning to solar alignments to relationships with the changing environment. These interpretations are then connected to other rock art in the region and to theories of Bronze Age worldviews.

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Ships and feet in Scandinavian prehistoric rock art. Courtney Nimura. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430614)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14332

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America