New article

Check out new article “3D-documentation and analysis of rock carvings” at:¬†

It is part of a publication based upon the “Why 3D? seminar” held at Moesgaard Museum. In the publication you can also find other interesting articles about the use of 3D in archaeology.

Rock art seminar in Tanum!!!

Fantastic opportunity: Learn more about rock carvings, documentation, enjoy interesting lectures, or meet other rock art enthusiasts ūüôā
You will get to see and work with the beautiful rock carvings from Tanums World Heritage Area. The seminar is soon fully booked, so if you wish to participate -register as soon as possible! The seminar will be held in week 30 (19th Р26th of July), you can see more at:



Photo: Mette Rabitz, Tanums Hällristningsmuseum Underslös

New article

I have not been working much with rock carvings lately, due to the weather. But I have been busy excavating, and will be doing this for the rest of the year. I really appreciate being outside, even though it is rainy or windy, it is just nice being outside ūüėČ

Concerning rock art, I had an article in the British online-journal Rock Articles, you can visit the journal here:

You may also read my article, which is available as a PDF in the menu Litterature.




Differences in rock carvings of the eastern- and western part of Sweden

The following analysis is based upon personal experiences from fieldwork conducted in Norrk√∂ping and Bohusl√§n. I have mostly been working in the western part of Sweden, but made some observations, when I did rock care in the eastern part of Sweden, Norrk√∂ping. My projectleader in Norrk√∂ping, Theres Furuskog, has the opposite experience -she has mostly been working with the carvings of the eastern part of Sweden, but have observed some differences in the carvings of the west. She has written about it at: www.h√§ This blog is worth visiting, and contains a lot of useful information about the carvings of Norrk√∂ping ūüôā

The "famous" sword from the Ekenberg panel. Note the size of the sword compared with my foot, which is a size 37.

The “famous” sword from the Ekenberg panel (Ra√§ 23). Note the size of the sword compared with my foot, which is a size 37 (photo: Mette Rabitz)

Weapons: In Norrk√∂ping the carvings contain a lot of weapons, sometimes in realistic size. The Ekenberg panel displays many full-sized swords, and also the “famous” sword, which gave weight to Bror Emil Hildebrands argument that the rock carvings should be dated to the bronze age. What is interesting is that in Norrk√∂ping, most types of weapons are dated to the early bronze age, for instance swords and axes which could also look like lurs. In contrast, the weapons displayed on many of the panels in Tanum, can often be dated to late bronze age, like shields and swords. Another interesting contrast is that in Tanum, the weapons etc. are often connected to human figures, while in Norrk√∂ping the weapons are often ¬†displayed isolated, without any connection to human figures. It is as if the two areas display the periods in different ways. -In Tanum some spirals seem connected to the type of spiral, which is displayed as decorations on items from the early bronze age, for instance belt plates and shields. While the same period is represented with swords and axes in Norrk√∂ping.


Human figure from Tanum, with pre-roman iron age shield (photo: Mette Rabitz).


Human figures: Stylistically there is also a difference in the human figures between these two areas. First of all the size, in Tanum the largest human figure is found on the Litslebypanel (T-75), situated in the area of Tegneby. The height of the human figure is 280 cm. and it holds a 235 cm. long spear. In Norrköping, the largest human figure appears on the Leonardsberg panel (Raä-84), and is 70 cm. high. This figure is also holding a spear. The elongated calves of this figure is also a little rare in Norrköping-area, most human figures have legs which fit the rest of the body in dimensions. In Tanum most human figures have elongated calves, and here it is believed that the style of the legs can be used for dating. In the pre-roman iron age the roman soldiers wore some sort of protection on the front of their legs, and some scientists see this protection as the elongated calves displayed in the carvings.


Human figure from the Litsleby panel in Tanum. The height of the human is 2.8 m. (Photo: Mette Rabitz).


Human figure from the Leonardsberg panel in Norrköping. The height of the figure is 0,7 m. (photo: Mette Rabitz).


In Norrk√∂ping a large amount of the ships have prows, which according to Kauls typological shipchronology can be dated to the bronze age¬īs period I-III. But the shipmotives of Norrk√∂ping also sometimes have geometric decorations in the body of the ship. This is as far as I know, not seen in Tanum. Norrk√∂ping also has an odd type of ship, which is as far as I know not seen in Tanum, but have been found recently on panels in Bornholm in Denmark.

Geometric ship from Himmelstalund, Raä 1, Norrköping. (photo: Mette Rabitz).

Geometric ship from Himmelstalund, Raä 1, Norrköping. (photo: Mette Rabitz).


Odd looking type of stem, under thich layers of algaes and lichen, from Karlsberget in Norrköping (photo: Theres Furuskog).

Odd looking type of prow, under thick layers of algaes and lichen, from Karlsberget in Norrköping (photo: Theres Furuskog).


Due to differences in rock type, there must have been differences in the proces of carving, and also in the use of tools to carve with. But the different rock types also means a huge difference, when painting the carvings. When painting rock carvings, one can either use non-permanent paint or permanent paint. The non-permanent paint I know of, is white, and consist of water and chalk. The consistency of the mix should be like milk with water. I have been working with this type of paint, when I have been participating in fieldwork at Tanums Hällristningsmuseum. This paint is also sometimes used by the researchers, who document with tracing. -In order to see, what to trace, or alternatively the outlines of the carvings can be chalked before tracing. The technique is to kind of dab the paint into the rock, while moving the paintbrush very little.  You may have a look at the video below.


When I worked in Norrköping, we painted the carvings with permanent red paint. First the paintbrush was dipped in water, before dipping it into the paint. Hereafter the carving was paintede, by slightly moving the paintbrush back and forth. The techniques is somehow a little different, compared with using non-permanent paint. This is due to differences in consistency of the paint, but also depends on the surface of the rock, in Norrköping the surface was very smooth and in Tanum it was very rough.

Painting carvings at Himmelstalund, using permanent paint (photo: Theres Furuskog).

Painting carvings at Himmelstalund in Norrköping, using permanent paint (photo: Theres Furuskog).

Workseminar in the world heritage area, Tanum

It has been a while since my last blog. The resason is that I am reflecting over the westcoast versus east (rock carvings),  and will write some about the differences soon!

As before mentioned, I went to the workseminar in Tanum in the end of july. It was wonderful as always, because the lectures were interesting, and there were other rock art enthusiasts. During the last years it has been a wish for Tanums Hällristningsmuseum to document the panel Bro Utmark. It is a very large and steep panel, divided into smaller panels. It is situated in the middle of the forest, and is therefore overrunned by water, even after long dry periods. This is due to a lot of moss growing around the edges of the panel – it holds huge amounts of water! BUT this year we managed to fulfill the dream ūüôā We were four groups working there, and we got to work a little further away from the other groups. More pictures will follow soon ūüėČ


Documenting Bro (photo: Mette Rabitz)


Just can not get enough of rock carvings, next stop is the westcoast -Tanum

After two months in Norrköping we finished the work. It has been such a fantastic experience to see many new carvings, learn about the motives at the eastcoast, and spend the days with sweet colleaques. It is going to be a little empty without them, since we spent so many hours at the rocks together.


Recently, the suitcase was packed once again. -And now I am at the westcoast in Tanum. I have been participating in the documentation of rock carvings in the world-heritage area, which is arranged by Tanums H√§llristningsmuseum.¬†Beside the fieldwork there were a lot of interesting lectures and discussions. Now I am heading towards west Norway, and perhaps I will look at some carvings on my way ūüôā


Beatiful light in the afternoon, at Bro in Tanum (photo: Mette Rabitz)

Now you can download my masters thesis :)

Now an english summary is available for download. The complete thesis is also available for download, but at the moment it is only available in danish. Hopefully it will be translated into english in the future. Both PDF-files are available in the menu “Projects – MA thesis”. At the same site, you can also have a look at the animations of four of my 3D-models, which was created with photogrammetry. I will soon update the site “photogrammetry”, so you can get knowledge about the method, but you can also read a thorough description of the method in the thesis + other digital methods as laserscanning, white-light scanning, RTI and Structure from Motion.



This is the cover of my thesis. It is a small part of my favorite panel: “the shoemaker from Backa Brastad” (Brastad 1). In fact this panel was object to possibly the oldest documentation in the world, of rock art. This early documentation was created in 1627 by Peder Alfs√łn. You may read more about this and other things in my thesis (photo: Mette Rabitz).


It has been a while, since my last post. The time runs so fast, every day takes the other! If it was possible, I would wish the day had more hours! Time runs so fast, and I am also busy with some articles about digital documentation and photogrammetry, and preparation for a coming lecture. But I am definitely not complaining! It is nice to have something to do, and being outside all day, and experience a lot of interesting stuff ūüôā

Recently, we worked with Sven Gunnar Broström and Kenneth Ihrestam. We cleaned the panels, and they documented it, with the tracing method. For a thorough description of the method, take a look at the menu documentation – tracing, which has been updated! 

I also got to try the tracing method ūüôā



Rock carvings -coming soon to a TV near you ;)

We had a TV-interview at the Ekenberg panel. They interviewed our projectleader, and did some filming of our work. We have also had some newspapers to visit us, some weeks ago Folkbladet was at Herrebro. You can see the outline of the article at:

SVT visited us at Ekenberg

During the last days we have been working at Ekenberg, where one can see many beautiful carvings. The panel is situated on a field with surrounding pine trees, so it reminded me of the typical setting for the panels of the westcoast. At the westcoast, almost every panel is surrounded by forest. In Norrköping, the typical setting is an open landscape with no or few trees around the Panels. We planned to finish the cleaning and painting after some days, but realized it will take a little longer. The carvings have a lot of lichens and algaes, and it is really hard to remove. The surface in the carvings is very uneven, with a lot of small holes. -The lichens really appreciate the small holes, and it is really hard to clean the holes, cause they are almost too small. Perhaps the lichens are hard to remove because of te surrounding trees..




Working with the rock carvings, Norrk√∂ping – so far…

I have now been working with the carvings for some weeks. As mentioned before, the dominating type of rock in this area is slate. So the surface is very uneven, and does not feel so smooth. Many of the panels have not been documented since Arthur Nordén in the 1920’s, so it has been possible to find new carvings, which were not present on his documentations. The carvings have been painted many times, so our job is to clean away algaes and lichens, and repaint the carvings.



Raä 53, Herrebro (photo:Mette Rabitz)

In this week, we finished the work at Leonardsberg. The two panels were situated on a field with sheep, so now and then they visited us, and tried to see if they could eat some of our equipment… I got the opportunity to paint the largest human figure in Norrköping ūüôā It is 0,7 m. high and is one of the few human figures from this area, which have elongated calves. When painting carvings, it is nescesarry to locate the edges of the motive, so it really force you to investigate the details. It seemed as if the line, which is hold by the adorant, ends in a lance in the right end, so it was not just a line, as the previous paint presented. But according to Nordéns drawing, the peak of the lance should be in the other end… It could be interesting to do some photogrammetry of this motive, in order to study the pecking marks, and check if some details have been updated.


Raä 84, Leonardsberg, before (photo: Mette Rabitz)


Raä 84, Leonardsberg, after my painting (photo: Mette Rabitz)


Yesterday we started to paint one the panels at Himmelstalund, called ” the axe panel”. It was a warm day on the rock, but we had visitors, and some children also came to us, and wanted to know it was difficult to paint.


Some motives from “The axe panel” at Himmelstalund, before (photo: Mette Rabitz)


After my painting (photo: Mette Rabitz)