Näe ja koe GEOKOHTEET Astuvansalmi rock paintings

Astuvansalmi rock paintings, prehistoric art

The rock face of Astuvansalmi contains prehistoric rock paintings in a granite sequence cutting through mica gneiss. The images were painted either from a boat or from the ice of ancient Lake Saimaa, using red mud mixed with blood, fat, etc. The shape of the rock itself is also peculiar, as when viewed from the lake it resembles a face turned sideways. Diving is also possible in the area - amber pendants have been found in the lake in front of the rock. Arrowheads from the Campanian period have also been found on land.

The rock paintings in Astuvansalmi are dated using the hydrological history of Lake Saimaa. Between 7 000 and 5 700 years ago, the water level in the Astuvansalmi area was 86-86.5 m mpy, or about 10-10.5 metres above the current level of Lake Saimaa. The rock paintings are therefore younger than 5 700 years. The highest paintings could have been made almost immediately after the birth of the Vuoksi (the water level fell by about 3 m when the Vuoksi burst) and the lowest ones a couple of thousand years later.

The rock paintings of Astuvansalmi were approved for inclusion in the Council of Europe's Prehistoric Rock Art Trails in 2019. Astuvansalmi is the first Finnish site on the trail.

The Astuva Rock Art Centre, which focuses on rock art, is planned to be established in the future on the premises of the Ristiina Military School. Until the actual centre is completed, the Astuva service point will be open in Kallioniemi.


Images: Arto Hämäläinen, Veikka Liljeström