A journey to Ancient Rock Art Sites

Jul 6, 2023 | General News, Stories

Dr Elizabeth Velliky is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bergen; she works with the SapienCE project under Prof. Christopher Henshilwood (the GCBR’s ambassador of archaeology). Earlier this year Elizabeth spent time in our region conducting fieldwork, looking for ochre outcrops in order to collect samples and compare with archaeological materials for a very interesting study. Our Extension Officer, Louis Jordaan, spent a lot of time with Elizabeth and her research team during this time, serving as their guide and building on this longstanding archaeological collaboration between our organisations.

Soon after Elizabeth returned to Norway one of our Directors, Arnel Huisamen, was headed there for a family vacation and took this opportunity to connect. Here is her story:

“In May 2023, I had the opportunity to travel to Norway with my husband to visit our kids, who had emigrated the previous year. During our time there, we had the opportunity to meet up with Dr Beth Velliky, who is a well-known archaeologist who has visited and worked in South Africa on numerous occasions. It was a privilege to visit and explore the country’s rich cultural heritage through her eyes by means of the local rock art, which dates back to the stone age and the bronze age. It offered us an amazing glimpse into the lives and beliefs of the ancestors of this amazing country.

Beth lives in Stavanger with her family and she gave me a personal tour of several rock art sites, including Kjobenhavnerbukta, Aubeberget, and Fluberget at Revheim. As we hiked through the scenic landscape, Beth shared her vast knowledge of the history and symbolism behind the rock art.
At Kjobenhavnerbukta, we saw an impressive collection of carvings depicting boats, humans, and abstract shapes. Beth explained that these carvings were made using stone tools and were likely used to depict their ways of living. At Aubeberget and Fluberget, we saw more intricate carvings, including ships, spirals, and suns. It was fascinating to see how the artists used the natural curves and contours of the rocks to create their designs.

One of the highlights of the tour was our visit to Slaget i Hafrsfjord, a site that commemorates a historic battle between Viking chieftains in 872. The site features a monument called the Sverd i fjell (Swords in Rock), which consists of three giant swords rising from the ground. It was an awe-inspiring sight, and a testament to the enduring legacy of Norway’s ancient history.

As I reflect on my journey, I’m struck by the power of these ancient rock art sites to connect us with our past and inspire us for the future. They remind us that human creativity and curiosity have been at the heart of our civilization for millennia and that we have much to learn from the wisdom of those who came before us. I feel grateful for the opportunity to have experienced these wonders firsthand, and I encourage anyone with an interest in history and culture to explore Norway’s rich heritage.”

– Dr Arnel Huisamen

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