The Story of the Landscape

Our working group has made several research and photography expeditions to the rock art area of Lake Onega and the White Sea over a period of six years. The petroglyph sites of Lake Onega are in Russian Karelia, in an uninhabited zone 20 kilometers long on the east shore of the lake.

The landscape of the rock art area on Lake Onega has remained almost unchanged for 6,000 years. Capes and points extending into the lake, rock faces with petroglyphs between them and long beaches present a landscape of myth that has shown itself to us at different times of the day and year. At the same time, our experience of the landscape has grown both aesthetically and in content to become deeper and richer.

The imagery of the rock art area is important both in terms of research and in artistic perspective. The Fenno-Ugrians and other ethnic groups living in the area carved the signs and visual narratives at the rock sites during the Neolithic Stone Age (40002000 before the Common Era). The grooves and furrows in the rock are like pictures from a history book telling about people in the past and their life. The pictures may be associated with means of livelihood, healing, communal rites or concepts of the birth of the universe or the hereafter.

The petroglyphs and their surrounding landscape deepen our understanding of the worldview of people in the distant past, and of ourselves. The sanctity and power of the landscape can be sensed. For a moment, we like the people of prehistory are one with nature.

Marjukka Vainio, Riitta Virtanen and Erkki Murtonen
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