Study sites

To date, acoustic measurements have been performed at 46 sacred sites, in connection with circa 100 fieldwork trips. Most of these sites represent the phenomenon of northern hunter-gatherer rock art that covers a vast area of Northern Europe, Northern Russia and Siberia, extending all the way to North America. The rock art sites in this circumpolar zone are similar in many respects.
Rock paintings in Finland

Finnish rock paintings are located on vertical lakeshore granite cliffs that have been worn smooth by the glacial ice sheet. Many cliffs tilt slightly forwards. As the majority of them rise directly from the water, the paintings must have been crafted from a boat or, during the winter, from the frozen surface of the lake. The figures painted with red ochre are dated to 5200–1000 BC. They comprise humans, animals and boats as well as ambiguous combinations of these motifs. Animal bones and artefacts excavated at the foot of the cliffs suggest that the sites were associated with ritual activities, such as meals and offerings.


Rock paintings in the Urals

The open-air rock paintings in the Ural Mountains are located on vertical limestone or granite cliffs that rise on the banks of rivers. These rivers flow both towards Asia and Europe. The paintings crafted on the cliff surfaces facing the water are visible all the way to the opposite banks. The red ochre paintings are mainly dated to the Neolithic and Eneolithic periods. They comprise humans, animals and geometrical figures, such as cervids, water birds, zigzag lines and net patterns. The associated excavation materials include animal bones as well as bone and stone artefacts.

Pictographs in Canada

The rock paintings in the Canadian Shield are located on vertical granite and gneiss cliffs that rise on the shores of lakes and rivers. For thousands of years, these areas have been inhabited by Algonquian-speaking peoples. The tradition of creating paintings appears to be at least 2000 years old, but it continued well until the last centuries. The red ochre paintings, known as pictographs, depict humans, animals, boats and mythical creatures, such as horned snakes, water spirits and spirits inhabiting rock cliffs. Still today these places are an integral part of Algonquian-speaking peoples’ sacred landscape.