Petroglyphs vividly demonstrate the wish and ability of the primitive man to generalize, record and store necessary information, to identify the most significant spheres, qualities and properties of the surrounding world, to personify them, transform them into symbols and build a world of symbols, to create supernatural images based on natural ones. The carvings presented an opportunity for direct personal contact and communication with these supernatural figures and powers. The venerated objects are either human-like figures or animals and birds which possess some extraordinary properties. By establishing the ideas about the world, its basic powers, links and relationships people obtained the sense of stability of the world and their own life.
One has to admit that the meaning of Karelian petroglyphs is largely still a mystery. We are not yet able to properly understand those times and the things and phenomena connected with them. We are deemed to regard the pictures in our own way, and not in the way their authors and worshippers saw them. Lots of the necessary data are missing from our historic memory. The problem of decoding the engravings is not solved yet. Still it is possible to grasp some of the underlying ideas through the analysis of such rich and long-functioning worship-artistic sanctuary complexes as Karelian petroglyphs.
Yet, every time a researcher seems to be getting close to the understanding of some ancient meanings he faces a painful question of whether this understanding is adequate and reliable, and how to obtain objective knowledge. Multidisciplinary approach still remains the most efficient one. In this approach comprehensive analysis of the monuments themselves is complemented by the opportunities offerred by adjacent disciplines, the obtained results are synthesized and reliability of the final results is thoroughly tested.
There is a pressing need for more scrupulous comparative analysis of Karelian petroglyphs in the framework of North Europe or even at a larger scale. The abundance and strikingly broad distribution of rock art over the Earth surface, its vast chronological range prove that we are dealing with a fundamental phenomenon. If we come to know its meaning, common features and regularities we will better understand specific manifestations including individual monuments such as Karelian petroglyphs.
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