Levels of Narrativity in Scandinavian Bronze Age Petroglyphs

Michael Ranta, Peter Skoglund, Anna Cabak Rédei, Thomas Persson

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Abstract

In Europe, Scandinavia holds the largest concentration of rock art (i.e. petroglyphs), created c. 5000–first century BC, many of them showing figurative and seemingly narrative representations. In this paper, we will discuss possible narratological approaches applied to these images. We might reasonably distinguish between three levels of pictorial narrativity: representations of (i) single events, understood as the transition from one state of affairs to another, usually involving (groups of) agents interacting; (ii) stories, e.g. particular sequences of related events that are situated in the past and retold for e.g. ideological or religious purposes; and (iii) by implication, master-narratives deeply embedded in a culture, which provide and consolidate cosmological explanations and social structures. Some concrete examples of petroglyphs will be presented and analysed from narratological and iconographical perspectives. We will as a point of departure focus on (i), i.e. single events, though we shall also further consider the possibility of narrative interpretations according to (ii) and (iii).
Original languageEnglish
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Volume29
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)497-516
Number of pages20
ISSN0959-7743
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

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