The Rock Art of Alta


The Rock Art of Alta was entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List on 3 December 1885. The reason it was listed is that the Alta rock art is the most meaningful evidence of prehistoric human activity in Northern Europe.

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 Altafiord in Northern Norway: Hjemmeluft, Kåfjord, Storsteinen, Amtmannsnes and Transfarelv. The largest collection of rock carvings in Northern Europe was created by hunters and trappers.

They 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, bear hunting and people equipped with snow-shoes.

The majority of figures are fairly small, approximately between 20 and 40 centimeters in height. Some are rather graphic and natural in form, while others are more geometric and stylized. The carvings and the paintings show the development of symbolism and religion in the world’s northernmost areas. At the same time the art gives an insight into human life and understanding of the world at that time.


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

Hjemmeluft is the largest area and the only one that has been made accessible for visitors with paths, brochures and guided tours. Here, it is possible to experience rock carvings from the two earliest and the two latest periods. The World Heritage Rock Art Center, Alta Museum is located in the same area with exhibitions, a museum shop and a cafe with wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and the Altafiord.


Text modified by: ThorNews


Categories: Culture, History

1 reply

  1. A wonderful place to which I’d very much like to return.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: