Moelv Helleristninger Part 3

Original petroglyphs

Figure 4 and 5 on the Moelv rock are missing some parts due to damage to the rock, and I did a restoration for what the missing parts might have looked like:

Petroglyphs with restoration of damaged parts

The abstract patterns within figure 4 and 5 are quite common in petroglyph animal figures. What the artists had in mind when adding these varying patterns within the figures up for interpretation. Sometimes it look like the inner patterns might represent the organs of the animals, but these patterns can differ a lot between the figures even when seemingly it seemingly is the same artist carving figures of the same type of animals. It has been suggested that the patterns reflect what shamans saw during hallucinatory states. And another possibility is that the patterns are inspired by psychedelic visions induced by fungi containing psilocybin.

Figure 4 and 5 with psychedelic coloration.

Norval Morrisseau was an Indigenous Canadian artist whose artwork has some resemblance to rock art. I did a coloration of figure 4 and 5 inspired by his paintings for further exploration of what the creator of the petroglyphs might have envisioned:

Petroglyphs with coloration inspired by Norval Morrisseau

Moelv Helleristninger Part 2

Continuing with the interpretations of the figures on side 1 of the Moelv Rock I’m moving on to the bottom left figure from the picture in the previous post. I rendered the shape of the petroglyph both as a young moose and as a goat. In the moose version the long ears and stocky body makes it look more like a donkey than young moose. The goat rendering fits rather well in the silhouette, but the carvings are probably from the stone age and it is uncertain of there were goats in Norway before the bronze age.

Silhouette of figure 3, drawing of figure 3 as a young moose, and drawing of figure 3 as a goat.

Moelv Helleristninger Part 1

I am drawing a series of possible interpretations of what the figures in the rock carvings at Moelv may represent.

I’m starting with the two figures at the top left, which I call figure 1 and figure 2 from side 1 of the Moelv rock.

Figure 1, the one most to the left, looks a bit like it could be a canine like a wolf or a dog with its long pointy snout and longer tail compared to the other figures. Most of the other figures at Moelv are clearly some form of deer, and it is also possible that this is supposed to represent a deer. Perhaps a young deer following behind its larger parent. Young deer usually have long and slender necks, something that this figure does not have.

Silhouette of figure 1, drawing of figure 1 as a wolf or dog, and drawing of figure 1 as a young deer.

Many of the deer figures at Moelv look like they might be moose, but figure 2 differs with a more narrowing form of snout. With its robust neck and tapered snout, the figure might represent a red deer stag. It is also possible that this figure represents a moose, like many of the other figures at Moelv probably do.

Silhouette of figure 2, drawing of figure 2 as a red deer (hjort), and drawing of figure 2 as a moose.

Seeing the drawings of figure 1 as either a canine or a young deer, I think the form of a canine seems to fit best within the silhouette of the rock carving. For figure 2 I think the representation as a red deer fits better than that of a moose. Maybe it represents a scene of a wolf or a dog chasing a red deer.

Horned figures in bronze age rock art in Norway

Silhouette of a rock carving of a horned figure from Solberg in Østfold, and interpretations of the silhouette as a warrior with a horned helmet, a mix of a woman and cow (like Hathor/Bat from Ancient Egypt), and as a humanoid hare.

There are several horned humanoid figures in the Bronze Age rock carvings found in Østfold, Norway and Bohuslän, Sweden. These figures are often interpreted as humans with horned helmets. Another distinguishing feature of the humanoid figures from this area and time period are elongated legs with accentuated calf muscles, and sometimes they also have elongated, snout-like, faces. Though the figures are two legged, the anatomical features are not quite human. These anomalies are quite consistent, so it’s probably not a mistake done when trying to represent the human figure. It could be a stylistic choice, or perhaps some of the figures are combinations of both human and animal features. The latter is known to be very probably the case with rock art from other cultures, such as the San people of Southern Africa.

The Norwegian rock carvings are usually silhouette figures without interior details, which can make them challenging to interpret. I am working on a larger project about the rock art of Norway, and will be doing more drawings with different interpretations of figures from rock art.