Prehistoric rock paintings on the granite vein intersecting the mica gneiss rock wall can be found in Astuvansalmi. All in all there are around 80 pictures painted on the rock (elk, people, boats, etc.) and they are located 4-9 metres above Saimaa’s current water level. The pictures were either painted from a boat or on the ice of ancient Saimaa using red ochre mixed with blood or fat. The shape of the rock itself is rather special as it resembles the side profile of a human face when seen from the lake. It is also possible to dive in the area – amber pendants have been found in the lake near the rock. Arrowheads from the Pit-Comb Ware culture have also been found in the ground.
The Astuvansalmi rock paintings are timed with the help of the Saimaa’s shoreline displacement history. During the period 7,000-5,700 years ago, the water level in the Astuvansalmi area was 86-86.5 m asl, which is about 10-10.5 m above the current level of Lake Saimaa. Rock paintings are thus less than 5,700 years old. It is possible that the highest paintings were made almost immediately after the birth of the River Vuoksi (the water level decreased about 3 m when the Vuoksi broke through the sandy part of the First Salpausselkä) and the lowest two thousand years later.
Astuvansalmi rock paintings were accepted as part of the Cultural Route of the Council of Europe Prehistoric Rock Art Trails in 2019. Astuvansalmi is the first Finnish destination on this cultural route.
You can also find more information about the Astuvansalmi recreational spot on the South Karelian Foundation for Recreation Areas’ webpages
The Rock Art Center Astuva, which focuses on rock art, is planned to be established in the future on the premises of the Ristiina Military School. Prior to the completion of the actual center, the Astuva service point will be open in Kallioniemi. More information on Visit Mikkeli’s website here
Coordinates: x=529004,515 y=6812383,892 (ETRS-TM35FIN)
The above coordinates are working in GPS-devices and karttapaikka.fi services.
The below coordinates are working in Google maps services.
Coordinates: 61.444172848, 27.543883534 (ETRS89 maantieteelliset(~WGS84))
Image: Arto Hämäläinen