Rock Carvings in Val Camonica (World Heritage)

The approximately 80 km long valley of the river Oglio was settled as early as the Neolithic Age and contains one of the largest collections of prehistoric rock art in Europe. According to a2zgov, around 300,000 rock engravings and drawings have provided impressive insights into the world of people since the late Iron Age (7,000 BC).

Rock carvings in Val Camonica: facts

Official title: Rock carvings in Val Camonica (Lombardy)
Cultural monument: According to estimates, over 300,000 rock drawings and carvings from the Paleolithic to Iron Age in a 70 km long valley lined with chestnuts; Depictions of deer, pigs, dogs, weapons, anthropomorphic figures; 80% of all rock carvings from the Iron Age; Find places are Naquane, Foppe di Nadro, Luine and Zurla
Continent: Europe
Country: Italy, Lombardy
Location: Val Camonica near Capo di Ponte, Province of Brescia
Appointment: 1979
Meaning: largest “collection” of prehistoric rock drawings in Europe

Rock carvings in Val Camonica: history

3500-2800 BC Chr. anthropomorphic representations
2800-2200 BC Chr. »Triangular people« in »dance«
2200-800 BC Chr. »Weapon compositions« emphasizes the sexualized representation of people
600-16 BC Chr. Warriors and riders, hunting scenes, agriculture, dogs, birds, footprints, spears, swords, especially in Naquane, also some depictions with Latin inscriptions

Prehistoric graffiti on smooth stone

Two thick boulders lie on a meadow above Capo di Ponte. When the sun is high, the glaring light casts sharp shadows in the flat incisions in the rock and lets the almost countless drawings of animals, people and tools on the stone become a little three-dimensional. The “Massi di Cemmo” are widely regarded as the “panel walls” with the most exuberant and beautiful rock drawings in Val Camonica; at least as long as previously undiscovered rock carvings in the valley between Stilfser Joch and Lake Iseo have not yet been brought to light and recorded.

The Camunians, worn out and romanized under Emperor Augustus, had been forgotten. With their artistic urge to communicate, this tribe was only remembered many centuries later. The people in the valley had paid no attention to the stick figures and the carcasses on the boulders of Cemmo; it was not until the beginning of this century that science rediscovered them. A tremendous urge to research and various attempts to explain the culture of the almost forgotten Camunians were the result. It seemed as if the goal was to win a competition in which long-neglected things had to be made up quickly and as many discoveries as possible had to be proven.

While not long ago it was said that 40,000 drawings were registered and 60,000 still to be found, the number is now completely different. Ausilio Priuli, who grew up as a child between the mysterious rocks and made research into his life’s work as an archaeologist, reckons with 350,000 uncovered and another 300,000 still hidden drawings. How does he come up with such projections? “Because I know the places and situations where the drawings have been found so far,” replies Priuli to such a question.

Glaciers from the last Ice Age made the rocks smooth. In this way, rock panels were created that were available to those who wanted to communicate something and only had to look for a »writing or painting tool«. He found it in sharp stones, in split pins and later in shaped iron with which lines and surfaces could be cut and chiseled into the rock. After the Camunians with their seemingly excessive urge to express themselves, nature often took possession of the bare, worked rocks again and overgrown even the most elaborate drawings with shrubs, trees and moss, even covering them with a blanket of humus. Even when the overgrowth has been removed from the “painting rocks”, the primeval signs are often not easy to decipher for the untrained eye. Many of the “art walls” act like search images on which weathering, Paint in the shadows, fallen leaves and new moss. In the “Parco di Luine” above Boario Terme, useful information boards with thorough explanations and visual aids are thankfully installed. Rock no. 34 in this park spans the widest (art) historical arc. Here the Camunians were active for posterity with their graffiti as early as the 8th millennium BC. And later descendants immortalized themselves on this rock in the Middle Ages with their own messages. Millennium before Christ, she became active for posterity with her graffiti. And later descendants immortalized themselves on this rock in the Middle Ages with their own messages. Millennium before Christ, she became active for posterity with her graffiti. And later descendants immortalized themselves on this rock in the Middle Ages with their own messages.

Temporal classification and interpretation of the drawings are made more difficult because the Camunians in different epochs painted on top of each other without respect. Early drawings, often with a few lines or signs, in a kind of abstraction, seem like an inventory, seem to be an inventory of everything that made up the world of the talented hunters who had followed the animals into what was then inhospitable mountains. They drew deer, elk and other no longer living mammals whose meat and fur they needed. Why could a people with such (pictorial) culture not survive? That too has yet to be researched. Perhaps as yet undiscovered drawings provide an answer to this question.

Rock Carvings in Val Camonica