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LATE IN AN EVENING in 1973, a father and his son far north of the Arctic Circle were walking home along the coast near Alta in Norway. Suddenly, in the soft, slanting light of the midnight sun, they saw ice-polished slopes of granite come alive with images of animals and humans. They had happened upon rock carvings that have since provided archaeologists with tantalizing glimpses of the life and lore of Stone Age people.
There are more than 3,000 of these petroglyphs, and additional ones are discovered each year. They offer a magic mirror of the distant past-a look at life thousands of years ago when animals were the center of the human world. People hunted these beasts, ate them, worshipped them, and with infinite patience and primitive tools, chiseled their images onto a record for time.
Since the discovery, archaeologists have cleaned the sloping granite rocks and removed accumulated plant cover from nearby rock faces. What they've found has helped them to understand ancient cultures, but the news isn't all good. The carvings, which …