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Archeologists in Sweden have uncovered 40 stone carvings that they believe date back roughly 2,700 years, according to a report from Swedish news outlet Sveriges Television.
The petroglyphs, which were covered by a layer of moss, include depictions of people, ships, and animals. They were located near Kville, Sweden, by researchers with the Foundation for Documentation of Bohuslän’s Rock Carvings in early May. According to researchers, the granite rock that the carvings are on once made up an island, which means whoever carved them would have likely been on a boat or platform, the outlet notes. Today, the rock sits in a grassy field.
“What makes the rock carving completely unique is that it is located 3 meters above today’s ground level on a steep rock surface which, during the Late Bronze Age, was located on a small island,” the foundation said in a Facebook post. “The rock carving must have been made from a boat when the sea level was approximately 12 meters above today’s sea level.”
Researchers were first alerted to the rock because of what looked to be manmade lines under the moss, LiveScience reported. Once removed, the depictions — each between 12 and 16 inches — were revealed. One of the carvings shows what researchers believe to be multiple horses, and the largest petroglyph, which measures 13 feet long and depicts a ship, the outlet notes.
“On the basis of the repetition of the motifs, it is possible that this collection of figures forms a narrative,” researcher James Dodd told LiveScience, explaining that similar rock carvings in the region have portrayed a narrative. Dodd explains that the depictions of chariots, carts, and other figures were repeated in the carvings, prompting his belief that it could be a narrative.
Because of the steepness of the rock on which the petroglyphs are located, researchers were forced to use a platform to study the carvings and perform other archeological work on the find. Martin Östholm, a project manager for the foundation, told LiveScience that to achieve carvings like this, people would strike hard stones on the rock’s surface — exposing a white layer that allows the shape to be visible. One reason for carvings of this type would be a mark of ownership, Östholm explained.
Kville is located in the Bohuslän province on the west coast of the country. The region is reportedly known for its rock carvings — one area of Bohuslän is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its abundance. The organization says carvings in Tanum, Sweden, roughly 10 miles from Kville, “reveal the life and beliefs of people in Europe during the Bronze Age and are remarkable for their large numbers and outstanding quality.”
The archeologists are planning to continue researching the carvings and the surrounding areas.