What’s an Image Stone?

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Image stones are stones with carved or painted pictures that tell a story. They can be found all over the world and vary in age. Some include text, but archaeologists struggle to interpret them due to wear and lack of context. They were often used as memorials or to tell stories from mythology or history.

An image stone is a stone that has been carved or painted to tell a story in pictures, with a series of images depicting various events. Some people use the term “image stone” to refer specifically to monuments erected during the Viking and Germanic Iron Ages, while others use this term more generally to refer to any stone monument covered with images, whether in the American Southwest or a cave in Indonesia. Many image stones can be seen in situ, while others have been moved to museums for further study and to make them more accessible to people who want to see them.

The age of the image stones varies, depending on where they are found in the world, but many are quite ancient. While the defining characteristic of an image stone is the use of images to tell a story, rather than words, some image stones also include text. Where text has been added to an image stone, it is usually minimal, often providing only the name of the person honored by the stone.

Because image stones tell stories in pictures, archaeologists often have difficulty interpreting them. The images are often worn by time and, in some cases, have been deliberately defaced. In the case of companies that have left no written records, image stones may be one of the few records left behind, and a lack of knowledge can make it difficult to tell what is going on. The figures depicted, for example, could be gods, rulers or ordinary individuals and, without context, it is impossible to tell.

In societies where image stones have been built, they typically go through several stages. An early period image stone is covered in simple imagery, with a strong emphasis on geometric designs. As society evolved, image stones and later image stones also tend to be extremely ornate. Archaeological studies have also shown that some image stones were decorated with luminous pigments in addition to the engravings.

The role of an image stone would have varied, depending on the company that made it. Evidence suggests that many of these stones were erected as memorials and image stones are often found around cemeteries or along main roads where they would be seen by many people in a community. They may also have been used to tell stories from a culture’s mythology or history, or simply to provide information to travellers; the mysteries of some image stones may never be revealed.

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