A youth visiting the 5,000-year-old carving used a sharp object to scratch along the lines of the carving, apparently intending to make then clearer for other visitors.
“It’s a tragedy, because it’s one of the most famous Norwegian historical sites,” Bård Anders Langø, the mayor of the nearby Alstahaug Municipality, told The Local. “It is one of the most internationally known symbols of Norway.”
The carving, on the island of Tro off Nordland, northern Norway, provides amongst the earliest evidence of skiing by stone age man. It inspired the symbol used for the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994.
Langø said that archeologists believed that the damage to the carving was irreversible.
“They are going back in September to do a bigger study, but what they can say now is that its probably damaged forever, and we may not ever be able to see the pictogram of the skier as it was originally made 5,000 years ago.”
He said the youth, who is a minor, had also damaged other rock carvings at the site. He is not being named in order to protect him from abuse.
"It’s a kid, and it was done out of good intentions," he said. "They were trying to make it more visible actually, and I don’t think they understood how serious it was. I think now they understand."
The carving was originally quite faint and difficult to see (see below).
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It inspired the logo for the Lillehammer olympics.