The Rock Drawings of Valcamonica

Valcamonica rock engravings

Valcamonica is an originally area and is in the lower Alpine regions of Lombardy. It is home to the greatest complex of rock drawings in Sub-Alpine Italy and there are approximately 250,000 petro-glyphs drawn on hundreds of exposed rocks show scenes depicting agriculture, navigation, war and magic.

The best-known and most significant rock carvings in Valcamonica were first discovered in 1909 by Walter Laeng, a Brescian geographer. He announced his finding of two carvings on two boulders on the Pian del Greppe near Cemmo.

The area where the rock carvings were most plentiful was in the lowest section of the valley between the Concarena and Pizzo Badile Camuno peaks. All the figures had been carved on a solid rock complex and were mainly Permian period sandstone.

Four different great periods of carving can be identified that correspond to the evolution of Cammunic society.

Foppe di Nadro- Rock 5. Figures from the Iron Age.

The warrior has a square shield and a sword with an antenna-like hilt.

(Photo ècopy; Centro Camuno Studi Preistorici)

  • Upper Palaeolithic (about 8000 B C.) showing scenes depicting hunting and early civilization.
  • Neolithic (4000-3000 BC) towards the end of the glaciation period, the first depictions of a religious nature appear. The human figure became fundamental to the carvings along with depictions of daily life. This period was the high point in Cammunic art.

Valcamonica Rock engravings

  • Eneolithic (3000-2000 BC) the quality of the drawings improved and they almost became a narrative with highly detailed hunting and rural life scenes. A very important element is the appearance scenes depicting female initiation rituals.
  • After 1000 BC the isolation of the Cammuni ended and they began to meet new people, often while defending their territory. Battle scenes are carved into the rocks as well as drawings showing huts, wagons, harvests and weapons. This was when Cammunic art was at its highest point and from then on it began to wane.

Where to eat:

Darfo – Ristorante Gabossi, recommended by Slow Food