Comparative Guts

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Rock carving of reindeer with intestines.

Alta, northern Norway.

Photo: Karin Tansem, VAM, Copyright © World Heritage Rock Art Centre – Alta Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

The large antlers indicate that this is a reindeer bull. The vertical lines in the front part of the torso may represent the ribs and the complex set of lines and circles in the back part of the torso may illustrate the intestines. The engraved parts of the images have been painted red to make it more visible to the public. At the time when the drawing was originally made, the rock surface would have had the natural reddish-brown colour caused by iron film (Tansem & Storemyr 2021), and the engraved lines would have stood out as greyish in colour, almost the opposite of what we experience by looking at this photo. The carving is ca. 25 cm long.