Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Shardik" Come to Life?

Does anyone besides me remember this novel about a giant bear that people in the novel are convinced is either God or a very important messenger from God?  Shardik!

Without even finishing this article, that name instantly came to mind...

Article at Past Horizons
Sunday, March 18, 2012 

By: Hanne Jakobsen, ScienceNordic
Artefacts are usually displayed in museums but sometimes there are some that just can’t be put on exhibition – as is the case with one that is hidden deep in the Russian forests.

A partial shot of some of the 1,000 petroglyphs!
It was known that there were rock carvings on some islands in Lake Kanozero, and Jan Magne Gjerde, project manager at the Tromsø University Museum, went out there to document them as part of his doctoral work however, when he and his colleagues had completed their work, the number of known petroglyphs had risen from 200 to over 1,000.

“I still get chills up my spine when I talk about it because it was such an emotional experience finding these carvings,” says Gjerde. “No matter how much I explore over the next 50 years, chances are close to zero that I’ll ever find anything comparable.”

Join a 5,000-year-old bear hunt

In the summer of 2005, Gjerde drove more than 5,300 kilometres east to Lake Kanozero. Together with Russian colleagues he discovered what he calls some of the world’s oldest animated cartoons.
“Petroglyphs are found at four sites in the area − on three islands and on a stone block on the lakeshore. The oldest ones date to between 5,000 and 6,000 years old,” explains Gjerde. The main site is on the island of Kanozero.

According to Gjerde, these aren’t like the petroglyphs they are used to seeing, depicting one moose or one deer. These are fantastic cartoons presenting entire episodes. For example the one they found at the main site, which depicts a bear hunt.

He describes in detail a hunter who is heading uphill on skis and tracking a bear. The ski tracks are just as one would expect for someone going up a slope with a good distance between the strides. The hunter then gets his feet together, skis down a slope, stops, removes his skis, takes four steps – and plunges his spear into the bear.

This is the oldest example of a cartoon petroglyph we know of, at least in Northern Europe, so it was utterly thrilling to get the chance to be part of this discovery,” he says.

Testifying to a rich society

Gjerde and his colleagues camped in a tent on Kanozero for ten days while documenting the discoveries. Time flies when you suddenly have to make ten times as many drawings as you expected.

They marked off the figures in chalk and then traced this onto plastic sheets, which could be brought back home and properly photographed and documented.

Rest of article.

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