Astuvansalmi Rock Paintings – Jääkäri, Finland - Atlas Obscura

Astuvansalmi Rock Paintings

Jääkäri, Finland

These 5,000-year-old cave paintings provide a glimpse into prehistoric Finnish life. 


For as long as humans have existed, art has been crafted in various forms and for various reasons. From bone and wood carvings—to cave paintings and petroglyphs, these remnants are sometimes our only insight into the lives of these ancient cultures. Unfortunately, many of these places have faded over the years. Especially across Europe, where the wet climate is an enemy of preservation efforts. Those that do survive are priceless windows into the past. 

Not far from the shores of lake Yövesi is one such place. A large collection of over 70 paintings from over five millennia ago still adorn various rocks. Archaeologists believe that the location is a shamanistic ritual site, where hunting rituals were depicted to guarantee future hunts remained fruitful.   

The site contains roughly 20 pictures of moose, around nine boats, several hands, animal tracks, and about 20 people in various stances. There also appears to be a few dogs and fish depicted. The drawings focus mostly on the moose, with a few containing dots near their hearts. Another interesting image is that of a female hunter, a rare find in ancient rock art.

Know Before You Go

The paintings are near the water and relatively remote. You have to make a roughly three-hour drive from Helsinki and then walk for about 20 minutes after the road ends to get to the site. 

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May 14, 2020

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