Finnish lake reveals Stone Age rock art

Stone Age hand print, Finland, 2018 Image copyright Ismo Luukkonen
Image caption A colour-enhanced image of a red right hand

New Stone Age paintings have been found on a rock face by a sprawling lake system in eastern Finland.

The red-painted stripes and hand markings were partially hidden under lichen on Tikaskaarteenvuori hill near the village of Anttola, which lies on the shore of Lake Luonteri, the Yle public broadcaster reports.

Luonteri is part of the Saimaa lake system, where Stone Age paintings were discovered in the 1990s, but the newly-found images are about five metres (16ft) lower down the rock face. Archaeologist Timo Sepänmaa of the Museum of Central Finland has been studying the new art works, and told Yle that their position shows that "they are a couple of thousand years younger than the earlier finds".

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The paintings extend across an area of 9.5 metres (31 ft). They were discovered by veteran rock-art hunter Anssi Toivanen in May, and examined and authenticated by Mr Sepänmaa and specialist photographer Ismo Luukkonen last month, the Länsi-Savo local newspaper reports. Most of the drawings are red lines or stripes two centimetres wide and ranging from five to 25 cm (2-10 inches) in length, but some appear to be well-worn prints of a right hand.

"This is probably the first example of graphic design made in this country," Mr Sepänmaa told the paper.

But more mysteries remain to be discovered, as some of the art work is still hidden under lichen and looks like staying that way for the time being.

"The lichen can only be removed with the permission of the Finnish Heritage Agency," Mr Sepänmaa says.

Image copyright Magnus Manske/Wikimedia Commons
Image caption Luonteri is part of the Saimaa lake system

Reporting by Martin Morgan

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