A che punto è lo studio dell’arte rupestre della Valcamonica

Angelo Eugenio Fossati, Raffaele De Marinis

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review


The state of the rock art research in Valcamonica, Italy - The aim of this paper is to resume the state of the rock art research in Valcamonica, a valley in the Central Eastern Alps. The rock art tradition of Valcamonica constitutes an archaeological, artistic, ethnographic and historical patrimony of inestimable value (from 1979 inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List), not only for its antiquity but, above all, for the thematic and iconographic wealth. The first engravings were discovered only at the beginning of the 20th century, when the geographer Walther Laeng pointed out the two Cemmo boulders, later on published by G. Marro and P. Graziosi. Most discoveries were made during the 1930s thanks to the archaeologist Raffaello Battaglia, the anthropologist Giovanni Marro, and the German scholars Franz Altheim and Erika Trautmann (sent in Italy by the SS cultural association called Deutsches Ahnenerbe). After the World War 2 the research work was again undertaken by W. Laeng helped by Emanuele Süss. All these scholars were (wrongly) dating all the rock art of Valcamonica to the Iron Age. A more scientific comprehension of the different phases appeared after the arrival in Valcamonica, in 1956, of Emmanuel Anati and the works of the Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici. Other scholars, among them the present authors and the members of the Cooperativa Archeologica “Le Orme dell’Uomo”, in recent times contributed to the enrichment of the discoveries, to the rethinking of the methodologies adopted, of the chronological system and of the interpretation of the art. Unfortunately very rarely engraved boulders or rocks have been found sealed by archaeological layers during scientific excavations. Moreover it is not yet possible to date the rock art of Valcamonica using the AMS techniques applied in desert areas elsewhere. So the chronology of the rock art of Valcamonica is still based mainly on the study of the superimpositions between figures of different styles and/or on the identification among the figures of weapons clearly recognizable, as, e.g., the so-called Remedello dagger. The authors, in fact, still consider important the stylistic classification for the construction of a chronological frame of the art. The paper describes and discusses all the different types of styles that occur in the rock engravings, from the linear geometric to the naturalistic styles. A part from the style, also the presence of particular themes in the rock art can contribute to better define the chronology. For example the introduction of horse riding in Italy has for sure a chronological value: this occurred only at the beginnings of the Iron Age, in fact the rock art of Valcamonica shows the presence of horsemen in the engravings of the linear geometric styles, at the beginning of the 4th style. Also the analysis of the weaponry provides elements of chronological value: the shields, constantly round in the first Iron Age and ovals-rectangular in the Second Iron Age, give clear indication for the chronology of the warriors that are holding them. The interpretation of the rock art of Valcamonica is also discussed in the paper, with the awareness that the significance of the art can be different in different periods.
Titolo tradotto del contributo[Autom. eng. transl.] At what point is the study of the rock art of Valcamonica
Lingua originaleItalian
pagine (da-a)7-19
Numero di pagine13
RivistaPreistoria Alpina
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2012
Pubblicato esternamente


  • Arte rupestre
  • Valcamonica
  • stato della ricerca


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