Tag Archives: Alta

Rock art and red-coated bedrock in Alta, Arctic Norway

Over the past few years Karin Tansem of the Alta World Heritage Rock Art Centre and I have investigated the hypothesis that the famous rock engravings in Alta originally was made on strongly red-coloured bedrock along the seashore. The post-glacial land uplift has subsequently displaced the rock art and the colour has almost completely waned, leaving the rocks dull grey, as we know them today. Now we are happy that our work is finally published as an open-access paper, with Karin as driving force and lead author, in the international journal Geoarchaeology! Here’s the abstract explaining the phenomenon and its implications, and a link to the full paper. Continue reading

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Burning rock! An update for German-speaking readers

Recently I posted a preliminary report on our successful experiments with fire setting in the Melsvik Stone Age chert quarries in Northern Norway. For some curious reason German-speaking readers were not able to watch the attached video of the experiments, perhaps due to country-specific copyright infringements related to the music following the video. “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash is, sadly, obviously not for all! In this post there is a link to another version of the video, this time without good old Johnny. And there is more for my German-speaking readers; link to a recent article in Spiegel Online, based on my original story. The fire setting experiments were carried out within the Melsvik archaeological rescue project/excavations, headed by Anja Roth Niemi of the University Museum at Tromsø Continue reading

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Burning rock! Experiments with fire setting at the Stone Age Melsvik chert quarries in Northern Norway

In the Melsvik Stone Age chert quarries near Alta in Northern Norway there are dozens of extraction marks that are difficult to explain by other ancient techniques than fire setting. Hence within the Melsvik archaeological project, run by the University Museum of Tromsø, last week we experimented with fire in order to substantiate that it actually formed an important method of breaking loose small and big pieces of stone. The idea was that it is not necessary with big fires and high temperatures, but that small, controlled “bonfires” are enough to create high shear stress and cracking. In this way high temperatures greatly reducing the quality of the chert for tool making are avoided. It works! Here’s a preliminary report with video. Continue reading

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Firesetting in the Stone Age chert quarries at Melsvik in Northern Norway?

Update: See this blog post for confirmation of firesetting at Melsvik! A few weeks ago I had the great opportunity to take a look at the large, recently discovered Stone Age chert quarries at Melsvik, some 10 km to the … Continue reading

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The World Heritage Rock Art at Alta in Northern Norway

Earlier this week I attended a workshop on conservation of the prehistoric rock art at Alta in Northern Norway. This gave me the opportunity to take a closer look at the great Stone Age panels in the Hjemmeluft area, which … Continue reading

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