I often see rock art explained as religious icons or magic. It often seems that it may just be an artist depicting scenes of daily life as it was then.
Things like the Labyrinth and what I labeled the "Glyphs" could just be abstract art, while the village scene might have a title like "Autumn in """"" (insert village name).
The running man may be a depiction of the local Olympic Games from that time.
What do you think? Is every type of ancient art religious in function?
As you can see in the photos the art follows an enormous range of figures and icons ranging from humanoid figures to a "spade".
You can imagine the people sitting down to record their history, their achievements or even like the rider, their everyday activities, on these rocks, a sort of "granite memory" the "disk on rock" instead of the silicon we have today.
The park is well laid out and has comfortable paths leading to the main rock art. There are numerous signs explaining the findings and what you see. At the entrance where you pay your entrance fee, they give you a map which marks out the various rocks that are numbered.
Various information sites:
Valcamonica is a north-south oriented valley, 80 km long, in the Lombards Alps, north of Brescia and Iseo Lake, almost two hours by car from Milan.
The name got its origin from a pre-indoeuropean people named Camunni, conquered by Rome in 16 BC.
The engraved zone (40 km long) corresponds to the lower part of middle valley, between the peaks of Concarena and Pizzo Badile Camuno (3000 meters high).
The latter Matterhorn-like peak always has a presence over the east side of the valley.
All the engraved figures are pecked in a hard permian sandstone, originally heavily polished by the Wurm glacier. This beautiful natural blackboard has now collected tens of thousands of figures from various prehistoric periods.
Pitoti, meaning puppets in the dialect of Valcamonica, is the term used by the indigenous population for the figures engraved by their ancestors.
The engravings of the CAMUNNI were only noted in 1909 when Walter Laeng, a Brescian geographer, gave news about two engraved boulders at Pian delle Greppe of Cemmo in the municipality of Capo di Ponte: these two boulders are now one of the most important Copper Age monuments in Italy.
This is the sign that explains the park and what it has to offer. It's located near the entrance.
The park has coloured trails, i.e. an occasional sign here and there that, accompanied by a map, may let you find your way.
Personally, as regular readers will have already guessed, I got lost a few times and still have no idea where some of the tracks were but you don't get lost to the degree where you'll never be heard of again, more your misplaced for a minute or two.
The three peaks are not so much a "must see activity" as a "hard to avoid not seeing".
Monte Concarena is the mount on the western side of the Oglio River with the highest of the three peaks.
This is the view from the archeological park.
....it's definitely a horse. Even I recognized this one! At times there are strange shapes but many of the carvings are of people, animals and buildings, assuming the triangular-roofed squares are representations of houses.
The park is staffed mainly by volunteers, one of whom assailed me in Italian for about ten minutes when I asked her directions down in the town. I had no idea she worked there in her spare time but after the ten minutes, with my extremely limited Italian but excellent sign language, I got the general idea.
There is a small display house in the middle of the park called the Antiquarium. It houses (and preserves) some of the best pieces and also has a mock-up of people actually carving the rock in period costume.
There is no extra charge to view it.
The particular piece shown here has over 120 figures on it.
The national archeological park of rupestrian inscriptions of Naquane at Capo di Ponte (in Lombardia, Italy) offers one of the most important manifestations of rupestrian art in the world; the engraved figures in this area haven't been completely counted in a census, but their number is estimated to be in the range of ten thousands. The inscriptions cover a very large period of time, that starts from Epipaleolithic (about 10000 B.C.) to the Middle Ages. Over one of these megaliths (at about the half of the Great Rock) there's a symbol that at the first look seems equal to the labyrinth.
On guide-books the following brief description is reported:
LABYRINTH (engraving N.5)
The engraving forms a meander, in which it's possible to follow a whole course, from entrance to exit: then a labyrinth. It comes into one's mind, on this subject, the legend of the Cretan king Minosse, that made to build a labyrintine building, in which he could keep imprisoned the Minotaure, a monster with a human body and a bull head, whom Teseo succeeded in killing with the help of Arianna and of her thread. This labyrinth of Naquane is placed on a more weak human figure. Some researchers attribute the labyrinth to the ritual index of the agricultural world, connected in some way with the seeding and harvest periods and, then, also with the solar cycles. Another interpretation hooks this symbol to initiation courses. There are remarkable analogies with images of the same type present in the Etruscan world.
Now, if you can understand all that (especially the latter), perhaps you can explain it to me!
Driving along route 42 you reach Capo di Ponte. Once in the centre of the village in Piazza Roma you keep driving towards Cemmo - Pescarzo though there are signs indicating the whereabouts of the archeological park. After about 1 km you arrive in Seradina, an area where you can admire the most ancient engraved stones belonging to the iron age, belonging to the neolithic period. The most frequent characters are warriors, duels and fighting scenes and agriculture scenes.
Near Seradina, in Bedolina, you can admire the most ancient topographic maps unique in the world.
Photography is extremely difficult due to the lack of contrast and you would need to be there for a whole day and be using a tripod to get quality shots though, since the latter is banned, that rules it out for all except those who have obtained prior permission.
This symbol represents a real mystery: in fact it appears in very different places and times. From areas as far apart as Sweden, America, India and Egypt its form has shown up from ancient times.
Its meaning is a mystery though some researchers believe that it is a "ritual course", confining it to the religious-mystic field. Others say it may represent a human brain, but none of them is able to give an explanation about its great diffusion in the world. The time frames between its appearances also add to the mystery. The hypothesis that it may have been a street map of Atlantis have some credence but fall well short of explaining its diverse range of sites.
The Chiesa di San Siro is located above Val Camonica on the western side and, in the background is Monte Pitto Badile, the Matterhorn-like peak that dominates the eastern side of the valley, its majestic presence seemingly overseeing all below it.