Bronze Age rock carvings found perfectly preserved under thick moss blanket

A team in Sweden has discovered a new set of rock carvings – or petroglyphs (Picture: The Foundation for Documentation of Bohuslan’s Rock Carvings)

A huge ship ship and several horses are among the exquisitely preserved stone carvings found on a moss-covered rock in Sweden dating back 2,700 years.

Archaeologists have found around 40 of the carvings – or petroglyphs – chiselled into a steep granite rock face in Bohuslän that once jutted out of the sea.

It is not known why a Bronze Age civilisation carved the drawings, which also depict people and chariots, but they may have been to mark ownership, or to tell a story.

The images, which are mostly around 30 to 40 centimetres, are thought to have been created by smacking stones against the hard granite surface, exposing the bright white layer beneath. 

Over time the sea receded and moss crept its way over the rockface, but a team from the Foundation for Documentation of Bohuslän’s Rock Carvings noticed visible lines that appeared to be human made, prompting further investigation.

‘What makes the rock carving completely unique is that it is located three metres above today’s ground level on a steep rock surface which, during the Late Bronze Age, was located on a small island,’ said the foundation in a statement.

The carvings are thought to have been chiselled into the surface using rocks (Picture: The Foundation for Documentation of Bohuslan’s Rock Carvings)
People and horses are among the images depicted (Picture: The Foundation for Documentation of Bohuslan’s Rock Carvings)

The team erected a platform to remove the moss and uncover the carvings, because the rock was too steep to stand on.

‘The rock carving must have been made from a boat when the sea was approximately 12 metres above today’s sea level.

It is not known why the carvings were made (Picture: The Foundation for Documentation of Bohuslan’s Rock Carvings)

Bohuslän is an area renowned for its rock carvings, which earned the region Unesco World Heritage Site status. Petroglyphs have been found at around 1,500 sites, and include images of birds, livestock, whales, hunting scenes and rituals.

The latest carvings were found near the town of Kville in western Sweden.

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