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The Rock Art of Alta

The Rock Art of Alta was entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List 3rd December, 1885. The reason the rock art was entered on the list was that it is the most meaningful evidence of pre-historic human activity that exists the north European region.

The World Heritage site consists of approximately 6,000 rock carvings and 50 rock paintings divided into five different areas at the bottom of the Alta fiord at places with the names: Hjemmeluft, Kåfjord, Storsteinen, Amtmannsnes and Transfarelv. Accordingly, Alta has the largest collection of rock carvings in northern Europe which were created by hunters and trappers.

The carvings show that there was contact between the Alta settlement and areas to the east and south. Some of the individual figures and collective scenes are unique with their motives of people hunting and catching animals, such as the entrapment fences used to capture wild reindeer, hunting of bears and people equipped with snow-shoes. The majority of figures are fairly small, approximately between 20 and 40 cm in height. Some of the figures are rather graphic and natural in form, while others are more geometric and stylised. The carvings and the paintings show the developments in symbolism and religion in the world’s northern areas. At the same time the Rock Art of Alta affords us an insight into human life and understanding of the world at that time.

The rock carvings were created between 6,000 and 2,000 years ago and it is possible to separate them into five different periods. The rock carvings illustrate a selection of animal life that existed in the area at that time and also indicates people employed in different activities.

Hjemmeluft is the largest area and the only one which has been made suitable for visitors with access paths, explanatory pamphlets and guided tours. Here, it is possible to experience rock carvings from the two earliest and the two latest periods. The World Heritage Centre for Rock Art, Alta Museum is located in the same area and provides exhibitions, a museum shop and a cafe with wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and the Alta fiord.

World Heritage Sites in Norway


Norges Verdensarv
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