Onega Petroglyphs

Onega Petroglyphs


petroglyphs discovered in 1848 on the eastern shore of Lake Onega. By 1973, 18 separate groups of representations, including Besov Nos and Peri Nos, had been discovered. The petroglyphs extend for 20 km along the promontories and islands to the south of the mouth of the Vodla River. They include approximately 800 figures and symbols and were left by hunting and fishing tribes of the Neolithic and early Aeneolithic periods (approximately the third or early second millennium B.C.).

The Onega petroglyphs are characterized by pictures of birds (primarily waterfowl), elk, deer, boats (some with oarsmen), people and anthropomorphic figures. There are a considerable number of rare drawings, including drawings of serpents, dogs, fish, and skiers. Some of the representations are grouped into compositions. The Onega petroglyphs differ from one another in terms of technique and style. Most of the drawings are no longer than 20 or 30 cm. Numerous representations of a circle or a crescent with two rays have been noted. Most scholars regard them as solar and lunar symbols (V. I. Ravdonikas, K. D. Laushkin, A. D. Stoliar, A. A. Formozov); others regard them as drawings of spring traps (A. M. Linevskii, A. Ia. Briusov).

In the opinion of researchers, the Onega petroglyphs probably reflect the religious and mythological conceptions of the primitive peoples. They represent primitive man’s attempt to give meaning to the world around him.


Linevskii, A. M. Petroglify Karelii, part 1. Petrozavodsk, 1939.
Ravdonikas, V. I. Naskal’nye izobrazheniia Onezhskogo ozera i Belogomoria, parts 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936–38.
Savvateev, Iu. A. “Petroglify Karelii.” Voprosy istorii, 1973, no. 6.