Prehistoric Graffiti: The Mystery of Petroglyphs

Posted by Karelian_Heritage 01/06/2019 0 Comment(s) Miscellaneous,



       Symbolism in art has been a subject of research for many centuries. Even today we still question various themes and wonder if symbols can have some effects on our actions and personality. We thrive to find some meaning in paintings, sculptures, movies or even comic books. And of course, in works of ancient times. We study Scandinavian, Indian, Chinese, Middle East and Celtic symbols to better understand the culture and time when they were made and what they represent. In the end we find that some of them were used to heal, some to bring horror to the battlefield, to make warriors braver, to bring luck in hunting or connect people to the nature, all kinds of realistic or sacred goals. But what if we will go even further down the history trail, before there was any cultures in prehistoric times. We will find that even tens of thousands years ago people tried to express this symbolism in the primitive word of art called petroglyphs. Today we are going to look at what petroglyphs are and what role did they serve in ancient societies.


       Literal translation of the word “petroglyph” from Greek is “stone carving”. And that exactly what it is – stone carvings of ancient people found all over the world which represent different aspects of their life. The timeframe of these carvings is very wide – some of them date back to 7000 years ago, while other are believed to be 40000 years old. The most famous petroglyph sites are in Africa, Australia, Siberia, Scandinavia and North America. Many of the sites are well researched and are included in UNESCO World heritage sites. Petroglyphs can even be found in the home of our favorite shungite – in Republic of Karelia. There are two biggest petroglyph sites in Karelia – in Belomorsky District and in Pudozhsky District. The sites contain more than 50 groups of petroglyphs with more than 3000 separate carvings which date back to IV millennium B.C. These northern petroglyphs considered to be unique for European petroglyphs, for example, they include the most ancient portrait of a human on skis.


Meaning of petroglyphs


       Usually, as mentioned before, petroglyphs depicted different aspects of life of ancient societies, especially ones that were considered to be the most important – hunting, agriculture, war, upbringing of children, etc. This way, petroglyphs have helped hundreds of historians to define what everyday life of prehistorian people looked like. But obviously they go beyond just describing life of people. Historians believe that petroglyphs may have been some kind of proto-language, before there was any real systematic language. A lot of petroglyphs depict primitive maps of landscapes or of the night sky which helped people in navigation. It should be mentioned that a lot of petroglyphs throughout the world bear many similarities which proves that the seed of cultural progress had the same manner all around the world and that there was heavy migration in the prehistoric times.


       A large portion of petroglyphs, however, were used in sacred rituals. As it was the time before religions, people were mostly relying on a number of different pagan deities depending on a culture. Thus, there was a lot of rituals in everyday life of prehistoric people that demanded sacral totems and images of said deities. These images were used heavily in petroglyphs and with time have transcended the prehistoric period and have become mythological and sacred symbols we know today, for example Scandinavian and Slavic runes. A lot of petroglyphs are believed to be made by shamans through their connection to the spiritual world. Later shamans would bless their tribes while they were going to wars or hunting, as well as stimulate larger harvests, good weather and abundance for the tribes. These symbols are still used today, even though in altered form, as thousands of years has passed. With them people attract strength, luck, love, wealth and success with the help of the spiritual world.


       The influence of petroglyphs on modern sacred symbols is undeniable. As the history has progressed, they separated into different cultures and achieved more uniqueness affected by these cultures and their sacred traditions. All of that evolved in more sophisticated beliefs and religions, both pantheistic and monotheistic. The symbols carried on to be important totems in spiritual life of societies. Celtic, Greek, Roman, African, Arabic, Eastern, Slavic – all of these cultures have some sort of insignias which were greatly influences by the artistic works of ancient people.


       If you wish to get a fragment of ancient wisdom, you can check our collection of shungite pendants with engravings. We have pendants with Celtic, Scandinavian, Eastern, Indian, etc., sacred symbols, each with its own meaning, which you can check in item description.  We took the liberty to bring in the most important spiritual symbols from millennia of human history to bring ambition, security and affection in lives of our clients. Paired with powerful protective and healing properties of shungite, with these pendants you will be able to build healthy and secure life with goal-oriented ambitious movement. Purchase shungite pendants and bring the true strength of the North into your life!

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