This is from that well known scientific journal, the Daily Mail, and I present it for what it's worth. It's fair to say that there have been certain sceptical comments, mainly related to the extraordinary survival of these images in the open, on rocks exposed to all of the vagaries of the weather, in a very hostile high-latitude environment, for more than 4,000 years. Are these images genuinely as old as Mark Sapwell claims they are? More will be revealed. But in the meantime it's an interesting idea......
Like this? Grab a chisel: Bronze age tribes used granite rocks as prehistoric version of (Rock) FacebookRock art found in Russia and Sweden suggests prehistoric people used to communicate with one another
By Chris Richards
Cambridge boffins are studying a 'prehistoric version of Facebook' to gain a unique insight into the daily lives of our ancestors.
Scientists are analysing thousands of images scrawled across two granite rock sites - each the size of a football pitch - in Sweden and Russia.
Archaeologists believe the sites were an early form of 'social networking' used by Bronze Age tribes to communicate with each other.
The site gave different clans the opportunity to build up knowledge and share tips on hunting and other necessities for survival.
Scientists believe ancient man continued to go back to the exact same locations to draw and communicate for thousands of years as it provided them with 'comfort' and a deep human 'connection'.
Cambridge archaeologist Mark Sapwell is using the latest technology to analyse the different types of imagery - including animals, humans, boats and hunting parties.
Mr Sapwell said: 'There's clearly something quite special about these spaces.
'I think people went there because they knew people had been there before them.
'Like today, people have always wanted to feel connected to each other - this was an expression of identity for these very early societies, before written language.
'People would create art as an open invitation, it's accumulative.
'Like a Facebook status invites comment, the rock art appears very social and invites addition.
'The way the variations of image both mirror and reinterpret act as a kind of call and response between different packs of hunters across hundreds - even thousands - of years.'
The two sites that Sapwell is investigating, Zalavruga in Russia and Ndmforsen in northern Sweden, contain around 2,500 images.
Using analytical software, he is comparing the imagery over large areas - adding and taking off layers to create a sense of how people built on existing images.
Scientists also discovered that as the prehistoric art developed, it began to go 'mobile'.
It came off the rock and appeared on tools such as the handles of slate knives and pots.
Mr Sapwell added: 'These sites are on river networks, and boat is likely how these Bronze Age tribes travelled.
'The rock art I'm studying is found near rapids and waterfalls, places where you would have to maybe leave the river and walk around carrying your animal-skin canoe on your back.
'They are natural spots to stop and leave your mark as you journey through, like a kind of artistic tollbooth.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2147158/Even-cavemen-used-social-networks-Bronze-age-tribes-used-granite-rocks-prehistoric-version-Facebook.html#ixzz1vaFVR800
About the researcherhttp://cambridge.academia.edu/MarkSapwell
University of Cambridge
Graduate Student, Archaeology
St. John's College
Thesis Title: Prehistoric Think Tanks: The role of rock art palimpsests in forming knowledge in Neolithic to Bronze Age Fennoscandia
Supervisors: Liliana Janik John Robb
My current research focuses on rock art in the Fennoscandia region from the Late Mesolithic to Early Bronze Age. Its main aim is to explore how made images were used to mediate and change experiences of the world in prehistoric communities.
Many groups of people of differing subsistence strategies and traditions neighboured each other within prehistoric northern Europe, and these groups were involved in many forms of contact and exchange on differing scales. This circumstance provided a rich environment for knowledge systems to be expressed and challenged between peoples through time. My research explores how the making and viewing of images is involved in the exchange of these differing forms of knowledge.
The Ph.D study concentrates on two specific areas in northern Europe, which are locations where image making and viewing were a central and prolific practice. The first location is Zalavruga in Karelia, north western Russia, and the second is Nämforsen in Norrland, north Sweden. These two locations are both extensive rock art landscapes which were used and re-used over a long period of time.
Using a mixture of small-scale GIS analysis, large-scale statistical analyses across landscapes, photogrammetry and comparisons with the surrounding archaeology, I explore how the changing appearance and composition of the rock art images infer an historical environment where opinions of the world and people are perpetuated, challenged and reformed. In particular, I examine how images have been used to experiment with definitions of person, forms of transformation and degrees of openness to new ideas and people.
I hope this research will contribute new methods and considerations for examining the compositions of images, using computer software as a valuable 'thinking tool'. I aim also to increase the significance of visual culture in interpretations of prehistoric society and in people's lives today, by viewing art as an active and powerful means of changing the way others think of the world and themselves.