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Camunian Rose, Valcamonica

Camunian Rose, Valcamonica



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Camunian Rose, Valcamonica - History

I'm basing this entry on three items: 1) the new Wikipedia page for the "Val Camonica witch trials," 2) an extension of my earlier entry entitled "Strange Occultic Tradition Excavated in Valle Camonica," and 3) a very related e-mail that I just received from our friend Pier Luigi Milani of the Camunian historical, genealogical, and cultural group Circolo Culturale Ghislandi. All of this just sort've fell into my lap, and should make for a nice addition entry here. I will start by simply adding most of the information from the Wikipedia page, then tying all of this together at the end.


Val Camonica witch trials

Val Camonica witch trials was the name of two large witch trials which took place in Val Camonica in Italy between 1505-1510 and 1518-1521. They were among the biggest witch trials in Italy and caused the deaths of hundreds of people c. 60 in each trial.

The best source for the trials are considered to be that of the Venetian Marin Sanudo, who was the chronicler of the Council of Ten in 1496-1536. The documents were to have been ordered to be destroyed by the bishop of Brescia, Giacinto Gaggia, to prevent it from being used by anticlerical opposition.

Christianity is not considered to have been strong in the area, though it was formally Christened in the 400s. In 724, King Liutprando of Lombardy feared a rebellion after he had issued a ban against Paganism. In 1498, stern laws were issued against all "Devilish heresy." In 1499, some were accused of having participated in a "Black mass," and it was reported to be common with such "depravity" in the area.

In 1433, witches were burned in the South Tirol, 1460 in Valtellina, and in 1485, the Inqusisitor Antonio da Brescia had strongly criticized the ongoing heresy and witchcraft in Val Camonica in the Venteian Senate. On 23 June 1505, seven women and one man were burned in Cemmo in Val Camonica, and in 1510, witches were burned who were accused of having caused the drought by magic: 60 women and men confessed to having injured people, animals and land with their spells, caused fires with help of Satan: "The whole world mourns for the sad lack of faith in God and the saints in Valcamonica. In four places in Valcamonica, c. sixty four people men and women, have been executed, and many more are placed in prison. "


The second trial 1518-1521

The second trial occurred after the peace of Noyon with France. During the first months of 1518, inquisitors were stationed in the parishes of the Val Camonica Don Bernardino de Grossis in Pisogne, Don James de Gablani in Rogno, Don Valerio de Boni in Breno, Don Donato de Savallo in Cemmo, and Don Battista Capurione in Edolo. All were under the bishop Inquisitor Peter Durante, who presided at the central court of the Inquisition at Cemmo. In July 1518, more than sixty women and men were burned at the stake.

In a letter from August 1518, an official, Josef di Orzinuovi, reported the trial to Ludovico Quercini. The letter stated that several people had been burned for witchcraft after spreading the plague by magic. They were also accused of causing thunder and lightning storms.

The same year, one Carlo Miani, a Venetian nobleman, wrote to Dr Zorzi: "Some women in Breto have confessed to having spread powder from Satan through the air, which caused sickness and the death of 200 people. "

In 1573, it was reported that Christianity was still weak in the area few fulfilled their religious responsibilities, women went to church without covering their hair with a veil, and people danced on holidays. In 1580, the church again instigated a visit to make the inhabitants "more Catholic." A lot of old Pagan cults and habits were still alive there. On the Tonale mountain, the "witches" were reputed to meet in July. This time, however, the visit of the church did not lead to executions.

Mr. Milani sent me the following link, entitled 'La caccia alle streghe nelle valli alpine e in Italia nei secoli 16° e 17°' ('The witch hunts of the Alps and Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries'). It seems to be of a program of upcoming lectures regarding this unfortunate part of the history of our people. In Greek culture, as far as I know, there was/is no conflict between the Greek Orthodox faith and honoring ancient Greece's pagan past. Personally, I would like to know more about the unique pagan traditions of the Camonica Valley, which has been supressed for so long.

As detailed in my previous entry entitled "Strange Occultic Tradition Excavated in Valle Camonica," there was some very complex knowledge of the stars and how they affected the earth, and the witchcraft and occultic traditions which surrounded it. I haven't even presented an entry yet for the prehistoric rock art of the valley, but do go ahead and google that, and you will find much information. The United Nations has declared these areas as a "world heritage site," but we can go into that at another time. Hopefully very soon.

On top of key periods in history, which affected the world (Etruscan civilization, the Roman Empire, the Venetian Empire, the Kingdom of the Lombards, etc.), we have this astonishing local history that goes back well over 6,000 years. Of course, the Rosa Camuna (Camunian Rose) can be traced back many thousands of years, and is featured on the present flag of Lombardy. I'm proud to be of Camunian descent. I'm sorry that I can't just go on and on here! We haven't even begun to delve into this history. Thankfully, Circolo Culturale Ghislandi is doing the work they are.

Lastly, and perhaps this may sound a little silly, but maybe we can produce some artwork, symbols, or costumes which relate to this history? To reiterate what I said earlier, when I was at a local Greek-American festival a couple of years ago, with the backdrop of a Greek Orthodox Church, they're not the least bit ashamed of their pagan past. It doesn't mean they're pagan now, but as a way of celebrating their heritage. Lets maybe look into this.


Camunian rose, copy of rock engravings in Valcamonica Valley, charcoal drawing, frottage technique

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Camunian Rose Symbol

The Camunian Rose is a symbol that was found among the Val Camonica rock carvings in Brescia, Italy. There are several theories about its meaning: famed archaeologist Emmanuel Anati posited that it was a religious solar symbol connected to the astral movement. Over time, it developed into a symbol of positive power, with the ability to bring good fortune and long life.

The Camunian Rose is a closed line that wraps gracefully around nine different cup marks. At Val Camonica 84 “roses” have been found on 27 rocks, all of them complying with three different shape formats:
● Symmetrical
● Asymmetrical
● Swastika

Archaeologist Paola Farina noted that the swastika shape appears to be the oldest, and suggested that the Camunian Rose was a local, region-specific variation. Another theory states that the rose is a sort of the ancient compass that allowed people to draw perfect circles thousands of years before the wheel was invented.

The symbol is called ‘Rosa Camuna’ in Italian because all versions bear a strong semblance to flowers. (It is not known what its original name may have been.) An artistic version of the Camunian Rose is now the symbol of the Lombardy Region in Italy.


Various Interpretations

Many people have tried to decode why the ancients drew this specific symbol or what practical use they may have had for it, but in reality ancient records left very little clue as to the use and meaning of the amunian rose.

  • Solar Meaning – Farina posits that the ‘roses’ may have had a solar meaning. It could be an early attempt to map out the movement of celestial bodies throughout the changing of days and seasons.
  • Religious Symbol – Decorated archaeologist Emmanuel Anati believes it could have been a religious symbol that called on astral forces to bless and fertilize the soil, from which the Camuni derived food and other forms of sustenance.
  • Positioning Offerings – Sacral cults may have used the symbol to correctly position their offerings to Mother Goddess and other deities. It is likely that the cup marks as well as the ‘arms’ were demarcated for the purpose of offering donations to gods and mythical creatures, just like the horned god Cernunnos, who in the Western culture symbolized hunting and fertility of the soil.
  • Modern Meaning – In any case, the camunian rose has developed into a symbol of positive power and abundance for those who draw it. In fact, a modernized rendering of the rosa camuna has evolved to become the symbol of the Lombardy Region in Italy and is featured on its flag.
  • Lombardy Definitions – Obscure as the symbol may be, the Camunian Rose has acquired quite a favorable reputation among shepherds and natives of Lombardy. It is thought that when you tap this rock art symbol with a stick or with your palm, it will bring light and good fortune to your life.


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Camunian Rose, Valcamonica - History

The ancient Camunian language, and the more modern Camunian dialect, are two different languages. However, the modern dialect likely developed from the ancient language. The Camonica Valley is one of the most remarkable regions in European history. So small, yet able to maintain an incredible cultural continuity for thousands of years. For example, some Rosa Camuna images, as well as other ancient symbols, have been dated at six or eight thousand years, while others are dated at fifteen hundred to two thousand years. The language seems to follow this similar pattern. Also, big upheavals, such as the invasions and/or influence of Gauls, Etruscans, Langobards, Romans, Napoleon, Venetians, and Austrians, over thousands of years, did not interrupt this process.

"The camunic language is an extinct language, spoken in the I millennium BC in some valleys of the Central Alps (Valcamonica, Valtellina) and not deciphered.

"The epigraphic corpus is carved on the rock, as similar as the rock engravings of Valcamonica, in one variant of the north-Etruscan alphabet, known as camunian alphabet or alphabet of Sondrio.

"It is possible that the language was related to camuna Rhaetian language its name derives from the people of the Camunni, who lived during the Iron age in Val Camonica and was the author of much of the stone carvings in the area.

"Today there are known at least 170 inscriptions in camunian alphabet, that are written in lines even from right to left than left to right. The iscriptions are formed mainly by one or two words, and many are those ending in "-au".

"Were found few alphabetaries (a series of letters aligned to forming an alphabet) in Nadro (Zurla and Foppe localities) and in Piancogno, next to the Annunciata. These alphabetaries presents variants of each other, but allow us to date the inscriptions from the 4th to 5th century BC to 100 BC-50 AD)."

Another area which we have covered in the past is the alphabet of the ancient Camunni . In the link is the information sent to us from Naddeo Michelangelo. For further reading on this subject of ancient text, see his website at http://www.michelangelo.cn/ . For a look at the characters of the ancient alphabet of the Camunni, see the following link at Wikimedia Commons .

The modern Camunian dialect is a variation of the "Eastern Lombard" dialect , which is eastern Lombardy. As we have pointed out before, and stated on this Wikipedia page: In Italian-speaking contexts, Eastern Lombard is often generically called a "dialect". This is often incorrectly understood as to mean a dialect of Italian, which actually is not the case, it's not a dialect but a language. Eastern Lombard and Italian are different languages and are not mutually intelligible. Eastern Lombard is, in turn, a sub-branch of the Lombard language .

Mauro Fiora has assembled an online Italian-Camunian translator , which has the lists of words by letter, as well as a Babelfish-syle translator. Needless to say, and please look for yourself, "Italian" (Tuscan) and Camunian are as different as English and Polish. What is further remarkable, is that the village of Sonico, and it's immediate surrounding area, speak even a sub-branch of the Camunian dialect!

I wanted to give just a few examples of Camunian words. First, Al Camònega stands for Valle Camonica, with the "Al" meaning "Valley." As with many words, it's different in "Sonican," . "Valàr." Also remarkable is that about half the words do not end in a vowel. Many resemble ancient Germanic or Celtic words, but have a unique flavor of their own, very different than the European regional languages that we may be familiar in the English speaking world: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, etc.

One way to get a real sense of the language is to go to the Italian Wikipedia link: Comunità Montana di Valle Camonica. Then see the list of Camunian villages down on the right side. Click each one, taking you to that respective page, where you can see at the top along with the Italian name. the Camunian name of that village. In other words, the REAL name. For example, lets take the first one: Angolo Terme. The proper Camunian name is Angól. Monno is Mòn, Gianico is Janec, Borno is Búren, etc.

On the Italian Logos translation website , which seems to be still in the developmental stage, one can search various words in many different languages. Included in these are "Bresciano," "Bergamasco," "Bolognese," "Furlan," as well as other variations of French and others. The translated word, for example, of "family" is family (Engish), famiglia (Italian), familia (Spanish), famille (French), familie (German), familje (Albanian), famija (Brescian), famigghia (Sicilian & Calabrese), famèe (Furlan), and numerous other words in numerous other sub-branches of French, German, etc. "Bresciano" is basically Eastern Lombard, and family in Camunian is famìa. In fact, in Sonican it is Baghècc.

On the television program 'Cake Boss' on the Learning Channel, the show begins with the proprietor of the Hoboken bakery, Buddy Valestro, a Sicilian-American, proclaiming "Mia Famiglia!" Actually, that's TUSCAN. The Sicilian word for "family," as we covered above, is "famigghia." It sort've makes me feel like using the word baghècc just to disagree with the forced paradigm.

I searched the word "market," which earlier had brought me a number of interesting linguistic variations, but it's not working now. In Bresciano, it was "mercàt," (same as in Camunian), as opposed to the Italian "mercato." This is no small potatoes. A language is the birthright of a people! I'm not referring to the United States, as we, or our recent ancestors, accepted the English language.

The Italian book entitled 'Vocabolario Bresciano-Italiano' by Giovanni Battista Melchiori is a more official source for the Bresciano/Camuno dialect of the Lombard language.

[4/12/10 NOTE: Apparently the word "family" is translated as "famija" in all of the Lombard dialects, except Camunian which is " famìa." Also the sub-Camunic variant of "family" is "baghècc" in Sonican, as was covered.

Lastly, I couldn't help but add one other word that really drives home the variations down to Camunian, and Sonican. The word "council" is "consiglio" in standard Italian (Tuscan), "Consèi" in Brescian/Camunian, and "Fabrisiér" in Sonican!

I couldn't easily search out what the word is in Lombard or East Lombard, but we can plainly see that one little community of villages (Sonico) can literally develop it's own language over centuries of continuity. How do we know that this tiny regional dialect wasn't some surviving remnant of ancient Camunian, ancient Langobard, Celto-Alpine, etc?]


Rosa Camuniana

Rosa camuniana (em italiano Rosa camuna) é um símbolo específico representado entre as esculturas em pedra de Val Camonica (Brescia, Itália). Consiste em uma linha sinuosa e fechada que serpenteia em torno de nove marcas de xícara. Está gravado na forma simétrica, assimétrica ou suástica.

Há muitas teorias sobre seu significado, Emmanuel Anati sugere que ele possa simbolizar um conceito religioso complexo, talvez um símbolo solar ligado ao movimento astral. Em Val Camonica, esse motivo remonta à Idade do Ferro, particularmente dos séculos VII a I a.C. Há apenas um caso duvidoso datável na Idade Final do Bronze (1.100 a.C.). Esses números estão localizados principalmente no Vale Médio Camonica (Capo di Ponte, Foppe de Nadro, [ 1 ] Sellero, Ceto e Paspardo), mas numerosos casos também estão no Vale Baixo (Darfo Boario Terme e Esine).

O motivo foi estudado profundamente por Paola Farina, que criou um corpus de todas as "rosas camunianas" conhecidas em Val Camonica: ela contava 84 "rosas" gravadas em 27 rochas. Três tipos básicos foram determinados: [ 2 ]

  1. tipo suástica: as 9 marcas de xícara fazem uma cruz de 5 por 5 o contorno forma quatro braços que dobram cerca de 90 ° e cada braço inclui uma das marcas de topo da cruz. Existem 16 "rosas" desse tipo
  2. tipo assimétrico-suástica: a disposição das 9 marcas de xícara é a mesma que a anterior mas o contorno é diferente, porque apenas dois braços dobram 90°, enquanto os outros se juntam em um único braço bilobado. Existem 12 "rosas" desse tipo
  3. tipo quadrilobato: as 9 marcas de xícara estão alinhadas em três colunas de três xícaras o contorno se desenvolve em quatro braços ortogonais e simétricos e todos incluem uma marca de xícara. É o tipo mais difundido de “rosa camuniana”, existem 56 exemplos.

No que diz respeito à interpretação, não é fácil para um símbolo pertencente a uma cultura perdida e passada, Paola Farina sugere que a "rosa camuniana" tinha originalmente um significado solar, que depois se transformou em um significado mais amplo de poder positivo, para trazer vida e boa sorte. [ 3 ]

O símbolo é chamado em italiano "rosa camuna" (rosa camuniana) porque se parece com uma flor, mas esse nome é uma invenção moderna. Uma "rosa camuniana" estilizada tornou-se o símbolo da região da Lombardia.


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Camunian Rose, Valcamonica - History

Impressive Rock Art In Val Camonica

view at Capo di Ponte center of Val Camonica rock art from one of the mountain sites Val Camonica is the most important pre-historic rock art site in Europe, because it offers the greatest number and density of images plus variety of motifs. Approximately 400,000 petroglyphs were carved in soft greyish black Permian sandstone on over 2,000 rather large bedrock surfaces at over 180 different sites in the Camonica Valley in northern Italy. All bedrock surfaces were grinded flat by moving glaciers during the last Ice Age. This created an ideal working platform for engraving and the fine linear scratch marks here are so typical for glacier movement. The engraved area starts north of Largo Iseo and extends for 70 km further north where the valley climbs and becomes narrower.

How Did It Happen?

The following fictitious story is a good kick off for getting into the right mood for viewing and understanding Val Camonica rock art. The grand chief of the Camuni Tribe had called all the elders from the different villages in the valley to meet at the next full moon at the tribe&rsquos main consultation site to solve an increasingly irritating thus view from Bedolina map site into valley recurring problem. The meeting place was well selected. It was situated high up on a mountain terrace overlooking the entire valley and most of its villages. And most significantly the selected spot was in direct sight of the key ritual site in the valley. At this holy stone circle called Cemmo with various monoliths fully covered with engravings they prayed to their gods and got in contact with their ancestors. Everybody had finally arrived and settled down around the fire. The chief stood at the corner of the steep slope and looked over the numerous small clan villages, which he could identify by their long trails of smoke from their fireplaces. In anticipation the elders watched him and waited quietly what he had to say. They knew it must be something very important, as he was so calm and stood there deeply wrapped in thought. Overlooking the valley he suddenly had the idea, which could solve the problem once and for ever and at best cast in stone. He was certain the gods had followed his thoughts and gave him this brilliant solution here on the spot. The problem he needed to solve was the regular fighting about the borders of territories and farming fields.

picture of Bedolina Map with graphic on the left

First Neolithic Maps?

Every year after flash floods the marked field borders disappeared and often the riverbed moved too. He turned to the elders and pointed at the large bare bedrock behind them. We are engraving this rock with the borders of all fields, he announced. And when there is a dispute in future, we come here to remark our flooded and disappeared fields. They were surprised about this ideal permanent solution and without further discussions nodded in consent. This is how it could have happened, but experts are still not really certain, if the huge engravings found at the Bedolina site really represent topographic maps. The huge layouts with numerous lines, dotted spaces and many other motifs give the engravings the look of a map. But the final proof is still missing. If it is true, they were possibly the world&rsquos first detailed regional maps having been created about 4,000 years ago.

Living 5,000 Years Ago?

But please look at the pictures for yourself and see if you could agree, or come to your own different interpretation. view of engraved bed rock surfaces at Naquane National Park The assumed maps and the house like looking images are the most intriguing and thought provoking motifs found at Val Camonica and are also unique to the area. When you want to understand the meaning and myth of rock art, you have to take a huge step back in history. Play the mind game with me and just imagine you are in the place of the Ice Man also called after the mountain range he was discovered &ldquoÖtzi&rdquo living over 5,000 years ago. One thing is sure, you have to have totally different priorities to be able to survive. There is no social structure of any kind like state welfare or insurances. Your family and clan are the most important things in our pre-historic life. Second comes your animal herd and the most precious possessions are your hunting gear and weapons to defend yourself engraved bed rock at Foppe di Nardo against common attacks. These items all have to be hand made by yourself. It is hard work to get in a good harvest from your small fields and sometimes it is a fight for survival against the elements. Your only transport is on foot and you have to produce everything you and your family need and consume. And finally you try to imagine you would be wearing the Ice Man&rsquos clothing. Please refer for more details to the Ice Man article on this website. Now you will get the picture of pre-historic life and rock art images suddenly get more comprehendible. Rock art is next to the spoken word the only way of communication and is understood by all speaking many different regional languages and dialects. But now beam back into today&rsquos reality and find out what there is to discover at Val Camonica. And how fascinating these engravings really are and what story they can tell you after this imaginative exercise.

Massive Engraving Activity

The Neolithic sites found in the valley offer 10,000 years of steady engraving activity with constant, but different intensities of creations including Bronze and Iron Age. The oldest images are found in the southern part at Luine and are about 15,000 years old. They are not the oldest in Europe, but nevertheless of great significance to experts studying the purpose and meaning of rock art. Image Val Camonica became the first UNESCO World Heritage site in Italy, even before Rome was listed. Today it has eight parks, which can be visited. The most important being the National Park of Naquane in the valley&rsquos center at the town of Ponte di Capo, which also was the first National Park in Italy. All this was achieved through the &ldquoFather&rdquo of pre-historic rock art in Europe Italian born Emmanuel Anati.

Fascinating History

About hundred years ago the first reference was made to a cult site, a ritual circle of twelve carved stelae and engraved boulders, which today is called Cemmo. But only after 5,000 BC the so-called &ldquoNeolithic Revolution&rdquo could be attested in the valley. This change from hunter-gatherer societies to permanent settlers arrived here late and needed 5,000 years to move from the &ldquoFertile Crescent&rdquo in Mesopotamia to Europe. It was an important cultural and total lifestyle change for the Val Camonians. It included for the first time farming activities, animal domestication and breeding, and also the production and use of pottery, weaving, construction of stone houses, plus the critical knowledge of metallurgy to produce better tools and weapons. The famous Ice Man lived during the same period only hundred kilometers further north.

Local Geography

view from Foppe di Nardo The valley of Camonica stretches over 70 km south of the Alps and is situated about 40 km north of the city of Brecia. The rock art rich area starts north of Lake Iseo. Most petroglyphs are found on a 25 km stretch in the middle section of the valley. Most large rock art areas with multiple bedrock surfaces are close to each other and indicate various Neolithic settlement areas. The highest concentration of rock art are found around the villages of Capo di Ponte, Luine, Sellero and Ceto. Capo di Ponte is a small typical north Italian town and the center with the Naquane National Park and a new museum, worth visiting. Most sites are situated at an altitude from 200 to 1,400 meters, few lie at a maximum of 2,000 meters altitude. I spend a full week here with a local archaeologist hiking up the slopes on both sides of the valley to explore fascinating spots with stunning views over the valley, which even rock art enthusiasts like me seldom see.

Dating Rock Art

The oldest engraved image at Luine is a large elk figure measuring about one meter. From 4,000 BC engraving activity increased dramatically. Rock art is primarily dated by motifs and engraving techniques. Most images were created by pecking with pointed hammer stones and later during the Bronze Age with first metal chisel tools. But most motifs were created during the Iron Age in the Camuni Period. In the valley we also find many new so far unknown motifs, as well as superimposed creations. But we still do not know, who created these engravings and for which occasion and reason? Sure there are many theories, but we only know that later the population in the valley had contact with Etruscan, Celtic, Veneti and Raetian cultures, which influenced some of their motifs and engraved representations. At that time a few short inscriptions were also added.

Purpose of Rock Art

Neolithic rock art had a multitude of purposes, such as: cult rituals, meditation, myth, clan identity, wealth Iron Age engravings demonstration, prestige, memory recordings, funerary purposes, initiation ceremonies and teaching the young. There is a strong relationship at Val Camonica of image, the position in the overall composition on the rock and the landscape. It was also a universal communication instrument understood by everyone across any language borders. It is assumed engravings were created by selected few during celebratory, commemorative, initiation or propitiatory rituals. These special purpose creations included hundreds of images engraved on a single huge bedrock surface, such as on Rock 34 at Luine, Rock 1 at Naquane, Rock 27 at Foppe di Nardo, Rock 2 at Carpene Sellero and Rock 12 at Seradina. These five examples are some of the largest engraved bedrock surfaces in the valley with up to 1,000 images and motifs on a single rock. It is a pre-historic recording or better history book, which unfortunately we cannot yet fully interpret and comprehend.

Images & Motifs

detail of beautiful deer engravings at Naquane Val Camonica engravings are defined by various concepts, topics, styles, subjects, techniques and the careful selection of places. From 5,000 BC we see the evolution from religious to secular motives. During the Neolithic Period to the Copper Age motifs are focused on religious concepts of sun, universe and fertility cults. During the Bronze and Iron Age secular concepts with warrior celebration, prestige and values take over. Various images could be interpreted as male initiation rituals, such as hunting scenes. Duels could be interpreted as possible weapons training as they only depict two persons equipped with the same weapons and defensive gear such as helmets and shields. Certain scenes even show sportive actions or acrobatics on horseback with standing riders. same deer engravings at Naquane Experts believe that female initiation is only depicted by symbols, such as foot prints, shovels and looms, possibly even the &ldquoCamunian Rose&rdquo. Unfortunately no scenes with detailed acts were engraved as part of the compositions. Therefore we have no knowledge about ceremonies, its actors and the creators of engravings. Humans and animals were engraved in both naturalistic and schematic style. We can distinguish two figurative trends, praying humans with raised arms and topographical maps. About the age of praying figures there are still controversial opinions being discussed by rock art experts. Some believe they are Neolithic and about 5,000 years old, or from the Bronze to Iron Age, that means they would be around 2,000 year younger. But possibly the symbol image of praying figures or so-called &ldquoadorants&rdquo was used for the same purpose for a long time in all these periods. But new research results show more thematic distribution patterns. For example great warriors concentrated at Paspardo, radiant helmed warriors at Zurla-Ceto, and the archaeological proven deer god Kernunnos at Naquane. It is close to certain that there were other sacred areas with further still unknown deities.

Sequence And Phases

A relative chronology of motifs and styles has been established. In the beginning only deer and elk were created by hunter-gatherer clans. From 4,000 BC onwards the period of early settler petroglyph creation took off with different motifs important to their new lifestyle. A Second Phase started during the Copper Age when ritual circles were erected with engraved monoliths used as ceremonial sites and religious sanctuaries. Engravings on these monoliths or stelae included two types of motifs weapons and fertility symbols. They represented male or female depictions. Weapons were always arranged in vertical order, possibly indicating their mass production or military strength. About 100 stelae or fragments thereof were found in the valley. These monoliths are interpreted to represent deities or deified ancestors.

negative imprints from Seradina-Bedolina

negative imprints from Seradina-Bedolina engravings

The Third Phase started with the Bronze Age with new complex social structures, stable settlements and long distance trade. The possession of metallurgic knowhow gave power and created wealth through trade. This was also the time and change from burial to cremation. During the Late Bronze Age the first warrior images appear. The Fourth Phase started with the Iron Age or Camuni Period onwards. It was the most creative rock art phase, about 60% was created with the largest diversity, complexity and evolution of shapes. Warrior images are the most prominent motif including hunting and duels scenes. These are explained in more detail in Part II. We see also hunters with bow and arrow, but only few men on horseback. Later more static warrior figures were created with square bodies, possibly indicating body armor as a next step of metallurgical development. Next to horses, deer, hunting dogs, birds and domesticated goats, buildings and agricultural scenes with ploughing, horse drawn wagons became a common motif.

Few Settlements Found

Neolithic settlements in the valley could be attested over all periods at various sites. They were often erected on elevations, which are easy to defend, as well as at strategic points to control the trade routes passing through the valley. But unfortunately they are too few with little archaeological evidence found which could be linked and help to explain rock art images and compositions.

Important Cult Sites

So far nine different cult sites with over 100 monolith or stelae were found, dating from the Copper and Bronze Age to Cemmo cult ring with few boulders, rest can be seen at museum the Iron Age with some attested use still during Roman times. These include Bagnolo Ceresolo, Cemmo, Cevo, Corni Freschi, Foppe di Nardo, Ossimo Anvoia, Ossimo Pat, Ossimo Plasagrop and Paspardo La Bolp. Monolith or menhirs were used for funerary purposes and represented ancestors or clan founders. Cult circles certainly were places of worship and oracle, because female symbols and sun disks point to fertility. Cemmo is certainly the most important, but recent excavations have brought new interesting facts to light at Pat. These give it a new significance because the findings explain in more detail the ceremonial use and value of cult sites in the valley. Valtellina Valley was in the past thought to be only a &ldquoprovince&rdquo of the Camonica Valley. But more recently the two areas are seen as one culture because of its similarities in motifs. It has also become one of the most important sites for Copper Age monolith or menhirs in Europe. This we will explain in more detail in Part II.

Burial Sites

Only few burial sites were found, possibly most were destroyed through building activity in the last hundred years, when archaeology had little importance. Normally burials were done in caves or under natural rock shelters. Most were collective burial places also using secondary depositions. Some small stone mounds exist at Ossimo Pat and a necropolis was excavated at Breno Val Morina dating back to 500 BC. Later burial practices changed to cremation.

Camuni Tribe

The first tribe mentioned by ancient historian Strabo living in the valley was the Camuni Tribe. He described them as socially well organized and divided into various social classes. The ruling chief had all power, but warriors and priests enjoyed a special position. The Camuni were known as a superior warrior tribe using iron weapons and living in fortified villages. For their weapons they mined and produced iron in mass and were masters of a well-developed metal technology including smelting and forging. So they produced swords, daggers, knives, lances and iron tools. Their houses were built from stone and timber and they even established a simple road network. So they could use for their extensive farming activities ploughs and four wheel carts for transport of their harvests. The Camuni people were excellent farmers, breeders and herders. From the Bronze Age onwards they created the majority of engravings and used iron tools. For them rock art was a secular and cultural message. Their inscriptions have unfortunately not yet been deciphered. Normally they consist of single words representing names of people, warriors or deities. So the inscriptions are too short to be able to be deciphered, despite the fact that their alphabet is similar to the North Etruscan. Other known alphabets discovered in northern Italy are Bolzano or Raetian, Magre, Veneti and Lepontic. Finally depictions of Celtic gods show trade ties with Gallic tribes living in southern flatlands.

Lago Moro - Luine Park

main rock surface at Luine, glacier scrating can be seen This is the most ancient site in the valley with over 100 engraved rocks and is situated on a mountain terrace above today&rsquos spa city of Darfo Boario Terme. Here the oldest human traces from hunting tribes were found and date back 17,000 years ago. Luine like most important pre-historic sites close to Neolithic settlements, has a high concentration of rock art engraved again on the typical large bedrock surfaces. These were grinded flat by glaciers and made these surfaces ideal for engravings. The most ancient rock art in Val Camonica is found here and is about 15,000 years old. The most famous Epi-Paleolithic images are found on Rock 6 & 34 in the park. The huge elk and one meter long deer wounded by a spear or arrow with backwards turned head was created by our ancestors Luine engravings are the oldest in the valley over 10,000 years ago. For comparison that happened 5,000 years before the Ice Man &ldquoÖtzi&rdquo lived. Certainly it was a sacred ceremonial hill site with a wide variety of motifs including various human figures in adoring position with raised arms or armed warriors in fighting scenes and armed horsemen. Their weapons include axes, daggers, halberds, spears and shields. They were created as single figures or in groups. Interesting are also the numerous geometric figures and symbols, which invite many theories about their purpose and meaning. They include abstract signs, dots, wavy or straight lines and foot prints. Rectangular shapes are often decorated inside. In addition we see here also maze shapes, long lines, grooves, cup marks and rare circles. The short alphabetic inscriptions are of Camuni origin.

What To Expect In Part II

In the second part of our Val Camonica rock art article we will cover the Capo di Ponte area in more detail. This will include the Naquane National Park, famous Cemmo Cult Circle and rich in rock art Seradina-Bedolina Park plus the areas on the eastern valley side of Foppe di Nardo and higher up Cimbergo and Paspardo. We also will illuminate the purpose of the intriguing house like images plus the interpretation of the fascinating warrior depictions. And we will also focus on the excavation results and new findings of monolithic cult sites such as Cemmo and Ossimo Pat.

3D &ldquoPitoti&rdquo Project

The most modern digital techniques are used today to document all 400,000 Val Camonica depictions. The aim is to find out common symbols and styles, plus to establish with certainty the sequence of image and motif creations. This technique also makes the filiform very fine sub-millimeter scratching depictions visible, as well as highly eroded rock art. We are looking forward to these new findings and future publications. It is a pity that various new interesting interpretations of Val Camonica rock art are not published as long as the father of European rock art E. Anati is still directing the local archaeological authority.

Please read Part II for more details and pictures

We thank archaeologist Alberto Marretta and Milena Tosana for guiding us. We also thank Sara Rinetti for organising a most interesting and varied tour, well versed guides, good accommodation and excellent restaurants.

Alberto Marretta & Tiziana Cittadini, Val Camonica Rock Art Parks, Guide to the visiting routes, Centro Camuno di Studi Prehistorici 2011, English version, ISBN 978-88-86621-36-6

Alberto Galbiati, Naquane National Park of Rock Engravings, Concise Guide, Libreria del Parco, (no ISBN number)

Sara Rinetti will organise everything from tours to accommodation and restaurants. They offer weekend tours with lectures as well as personalised tours. We choose one week and did not see every site but the most important. Sara and her team speak also English.


Watch the video: The Rose of the Camunni: Typology, Chronology, Interpretation. Valcamonica Rock Art in 20 Minutes (August 2022).