Picture Used as Lillehammer Games Logo.

5,000 year old Tromso rock art skier before and after
5,000 year old Tromso rock art skier before and after

The world’s oldest known image of a person on skis — a 5,000 year old petroglyph on the Norwegian island of Tro — has been destroyed by vandals. The image was used as the logo for the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics.

Image used for Lillehammer Olympics
Image used for Lillehammer Olympics


This is a tragedy for those interested in skiing history. It also is a tragedy for Norway, which considers the picture among it’s national treasures.

The vandals were young people who claim they were trying to improve the visibility of the faint petroglyph.

I live in an area with an abundance of ancient rock art. A short walk from my home takes me to a major panel made by people from the Fremont Culture, who were here about 1,000 years ago. There are pictographs (painted images) and petroglyphs (pecked and carved images). Over the past century, visitors have carved names and dates. Archaeologists consider these more recent markings “historic.” Over the past few years, the site has degraded as vandals have defaced the 1,000 year old images, scratched in their own graffiti, and used charcoal from the site to leave drawings, names, and stupid sentiments.

Ancient rock art is rare. Many people do not understand its importance as a connection to prehistory. Nor do they understand that it should be left alone.

Some educational programs encourage people to “Respect and Protect” ancient rock art. I recently met with personnel from the Bureau of Land Management to discuss ways to protect the panel near my home.

For a cultural treasure so important to the Norwegians, what measures were in place to prevent young idiots from to destroying this iconic ancient skier?


  1. Bill Runner says:

    Stupid people no matter where you go!

  2. So unnecessary. I guess there is no chance of catching the vandals? If they do, they should receive a lifetime ban from ski resorts worldwide.

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