Saturday, August 20, 2016


The Ancient Skier carving before it
was damaged. (Nordland County)

At this time of the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro we have a story on vandalized rock art with an Olympic connection. On 4 August, 2016, ran a column by Danny Lewis about the vandalism of a petroglyph of a figure on skis on the Norwegian island of Tro. This image, dated 5,000 B.P. is famous as the earliest portrayal of what we now classify as a winter sport, and inspired the symbol for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

""It's a tragedy, because it's one of the most famous Norwegian historical sites," Bård Anders Langø, the mayor of the nearby Alstahaug Municipality - "It is one of the most internationally known symbols of Norway."" (Lewis 2016)

""As the oldest-known image of a person on skis, the stone age symbol is often seen as an iconic part of Norwegian culture. In addition to an important glimpse into the lives of ancient humans, the carving inspired the logo for the 1994 Norway Winter Olympics in Lillehammer."" (Lewis 2016)

The Ancient Skier carving after
damage. (Nordland County)

Two boys, visiting the site, decided to touch it up to make the lines more visible. They also decided to improve a nearby petroglyph of a whale.

" The news of the damage - broke when a person staying in the area informed Tor-Kristian Storvik, the official archaeologist for Nordland County, that the petroglyph had been damaged. - Storvik investigated and found that in addition to the damage done to the famous carving, a nearby etched whale had also been harmed. The boys have come forward and publicly apologized for the incident. Officials are keeping their identities secret to protect the minors from potential abuse." (Lewis 2016)

Apparently Norwegian officials are considerably more lenient in cases of vandalized rock art than our current social sentiment demands. Cases of such vandalism in our country nowadays usually end up in trials and fines if the perpetrators are discovered. While I applaud such generosity and sympathetic treatment, I also see this as a teaching opportunity missed. In this case only two individuals have learned a lesson from this vandalism, not the whole society. We must find ways to get the word out and promote an understanding throughout the whole society that rock art is irreplaceable and must not be altered, defaced, or damaged.

You can read the whole story at


Lewis, Danny, 2016

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