Art Europe Prehistoric


The Rock Carvings in Tanum are located in an area on the west coast of Sweden, in an area known as Bohuslan, which contains the densest concentration of Bronze Age rock art in Scandinavia.  Several hundred engravings are known around Tanum, and more are believed to be buried under the soil and moss.  Though many of the engravings are now filled with red or white paint to be more visible, originally, they had no color to set them off from the surrounding rock.

The Bronze Age artists used stone hammers and points to grind and peck the rock surfaces to make these carvings. Thousands of ship engravings have been found, with upward curving bows and sterns.  Engravings of humans are male, they carry weapons, ride chariots, pull plows.  Animals such as cattle, horses, deer, canines and birds also appear, along with abstract designs such as wheels and spirals which may symbolize the sun.  Many of the engravings depict scenes for everyday life such as farming or hunting while others show rituals and processions and battle axes show the status of warriors in Bronze Age society.

Various interpretations have been advanced; did they tell stories for future generations?  Did they express relations between the worlds of the living and deities or myths?

The Rock Carvings of Tanum were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994.