Belomorsk Petroglyphs is a
collection of ancient art that date back to the 4th and 3rd millenia
BC. It is located in the Belomorsky District on the islands of Vyg
river. Little is known about people who created them, but it is
likely to have significant religious meaning given their isolation
in the middle of the river. Belomorsk Petroglyphs are located near a town
of Zalavruga on the islands of river Vyg or Vig, about 12 km from
Belomorsk. There is no direct road to the site, but you can hike
from a village of Vygostrov for 2 km (just over a mile). Despite
numerous expeditions here, many of petroglyphs are being discovered
by scientists, locals and even tourists who venture off beaten path.
In addition to petroglyphs archeologists discovered numerous
artifacts from the life of common people, including ceramics, stone
and iron tools and many others.
Belomorsk Petroglyphs were first described in
1926 by a Karelian writer and ethnographer Alexander Linevsky. Local
natives called it "demons footprints" and knew very little about
their origins or purpose. The only thing they could do is show their
location to the scientists. People who created them first painted
shapes with natural dyes and later used stone and metal tools to leave deep
marks that survived centuries of erosions by natural elements.
Despite scarcity of information about people who created them,
Belomorsk Petroglyphs tell great deal about ancient tribes that once
lived there and the nature that surrounded them. Stone Art depicts
animals that these people once hunted including bears, deer, elk,
various bird and marine animals. Additionaly you can clearly see
present of skis on some of the figures, some of the oldest in the
At the centerpiece of Belomorsk Petroglyphs
is a rock depicts three life-size deers that follow each other in a
line, another chain of animals are passing under their feet and
block the way for people on boats. These figures reflects the hunt
for deer in the autumn months as reindeer cross the river when they
migrate from north to south. Additional clue is in the skis that
some hunters use to track animals on land.
There are also pictures with the theme of
war: the battle is depicted on the rock with the foreign soldiers on
boats who invaded the territory of ancient people living here. It
seems that these invaders came on boats to subjugate native tribes
and judging by their relatively small size and position their raid
was unsuccessful. Native tribes managed to beat back the enemy and
record their victory on Belomorsk Petroglyphs.
An interesting unique feature of Belomorsk
Petroglyphs is that the humans are taking the center stage in
various rock art spread on these islands. Ancient people put
themselves as the center of their attention. It is a history
recorded in stone rather than religious iconography requesting
success in hunts or war. Belomorsk Petroglyphs indicate an enormous
progress of the human race on view of themselves in this world and
the nature that surrounds them.