There is a curiously carved human-like figure among the petroglyphs at Evenhus:
If it is supposed to be a human, it is lacking both arms and legs. Without the face it wouldn’t look very human at all.
As it is rather rare for human petroglyph figures to be carved with ears and a face, I asked an archologist familiar with the site if it is possible that the face may have been added at a later time than the rest of the figure. Her reply was that the degree of weathering of the rock surface is so high that is difficult to tell if parts of the figure was added by someone else after the “body” of the figure was first carved. This would have been done by studying the different parts of the figure with a microscope, to see if there are any obvious differences in the way the carving was done.
If the face was added by someone else after the rest of the body, it wasn’t done recently as the weathering is severe for the entire figure. And although the figure doesn’t look very human without the face, it doesn’t really look like any other commonly used symbols in Norwegian rock art. So I did three different interpretations of this figure with the assumption that it really is supposed to represent a human.
The figure as a ceremonial singer
The first interpretation is as a singer with his arms crossed and who is wearing a dress or robe, and therefore the arms and legs are not seen in the outline. I have interpreted the line across the neck as an object stuck in the throat. Maybe this will stop the figure from singing, or maybe it’s something to aid the singing.
I also wonder if this line across the neck could be from an overlapping figure, like the moose figure overlapping the lower part of the figure. But the rest of the overlapping figure at the neck has faded.
The idea behind this interpretation is that it was carved to represent a ceremonial occasion. Maybe the figure is supposed to be a form of religious leader, like a shaman or druid, performing a ceremony or ritual.
The Figure as a Bound Prisoner
The second interpretation is that the figure is bound and has a rope around its neck. There are quite a few other human figures missing arms among the rock carvings, and I have seen others also interpret this as the figures being bound.
This also has a parallel to how prisoners of war are often represented bound in representations from ancient Egypt.
So maybe this figure also represents a bound prisoner, and was carved to display the power in war of those of carved it.
The Figure as an Effigy
The third interpretation is that the missing arms and the many overlapping “cuts” on the figure (including the crack in the rock that naturally cuts through the figure) could represent a dismembered figure that lacks arms and legs. Perhaps a martyr figure, or a form of effigy.
If it was carved as an effigy, it could have been an attempt at using magic to harm an enemy that is drawn with all the damages that the carver wanted to magically inflict on him.
As always with rock art, there are no definite answers to what the ones who carved this figure actually wanted to convey.