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Valcamonica - Italy

Contribution of Footsteps of Man to EuroPreArt

Angelo Fossati - Footsteps of Man

The Footsteps of Man Archaeological Cooperative Society recorded and studied during the last 15 years of field activity hundreds of engraved and painted Alpine rocks: the Europreart database is the right (and in some measure unique) occasion to share all over the world information about some of these sites.

Our set of 100 records is devoted to Val Camonica and Valtellina (Lombardy), Val Germanasca, Valle Po, Valchiusella, Valsusa, Valcenischia, Val Chiusella, Val Pellice and Valle Po (Piedmont), which are all central and western Alpine valleys. More info about alpine rock art can be found at Most of the sites chosen in the western alps set were scientifically recorded by Footsteps of Man under the direction of the Piedmontese Archaeological Superintendency. Two French records were added, one in the Haute Maurienne (the Ibexes Rock) and the second in the Haute Ubaye valley (Copper age daggers).

Alpine valleys were shaped during the Ice age and rocky surfaces where flattened and smoothed like natural blackboards by the glaciers, like in Val Camonica and Valcenischia. Sometimes engraved surfaces are vertical as a menhir (see the records of some stelae found in Valcamonica) or painted over vertical walls of rock shelters (see Val Germanasca or Valsusa).

Val Camonica is a valley of the Italian Central Alps situated to the north of the Brescia city. In this area one of the major concentrations of open air European rock art is present. Hundreds of thousands of figures carved by prehistoric men lie over the surfaces of polished sandstone and form one of the most important European treasures of prehistoric art. It was for this reason that in 1979 Val Camonica rock art was included in the UNESCO’s "World Heritage List". In Valcamonica we have chosen, among other rocks, some Copper Age stele found starting from 1953 in the special area of the Borno-Ossimo high-plateau. Other records derive from the summer fieldworks undertaken in the last two decades of the last century at Paspardo (Dos Sottolajolo, In Valle, Vite). Some rocks studied for special University degrees as Bedolina, Redondo and Dos del Merichì have been also catalogued.

In Valtellina, a 80 miles long valley in the earth of the Central Italian Alps, extending from the Como lake till the Stelvio pass close to the Swiss border, there is a large concentration of rock engravings, covering 5000 years of prehistory. We decided to insert in the EuroPreArt database the most important sectors of the Rupe Magna di Grosio (the Big Rock of Grosio) in the National Engraving Park of Grosio. This rock represents the largest engraved rock of the Alps.

Valsusa in Piedmont presents a major concentration of engraved rocks, especially in the Mompantero area. Here rock paintings have been found at the end of the last century. Valsusa non-figurative rock art was studied by the GRCM (Mountain Heritage Research Group, in the '70s and the '80s, while the figurative complex was recorded and studied by the Footsteps of Man team and by the Archaeological Superintendency of Piedmont in the '90s. In this area the rocks present engraved boulders with anthropomorphic and Iron age weapons motives, accompanied by some spiral-meandering figures of the Bronze age. Also Valcenischia, a lateral valley of Valsusa, where the most important engraved rocks were discovered by the GRCM (Mountain Heritage Research Group,, presents engraved rocks at very high altitude, with an imagery very similar to the Iron Age rupestrian tradition of Val Camonica (warriors and topographical figures).

Val Germanasca, Val Pellice and Valle Po, again in Piedmont, where the CeSMAP ( ), another EuroPreart partner, has conducted a long series of research and studies, have been chosen for the singularity of their rocks. In Val Germanasca and Valle Pellice we decided to show two topographical rock paintings sites, both situated in rock shelters, while Valle Po offers a special rock, Roca 'd la Casna, engraved with anthropomorphic figures etched on a rock that has a special position on the valley. In the same area the important complex of cup-marked rocks of Bric Lombatera has been also selected.

Last but not least Valchiusella presents a very special rock, the Pera dij Cros (the rock of the crosses), where human figures and crosses overlap and interlace creating a chronological discussion among the scholars, discussion that is still going on.


The Footsteps of Man Archaeological Society
Cooperativa Archeologica Le Orme dell'Uomo
Piazza Donatori di Sangue, 1 25040 CERVENO (Bs)
Tel. 0364-433983 Fax. 0364-434351
Email:cont@ct form

Project Team

  • EuroPreArt database management and Webmaster: Andrea Arcà
  • Western Alps records: Andrea Arcà
  • Central Alps records: Angelo Fossati, Elena Marchi
Map of the Alpine rock art (click to enlarge)
Map of the Alpine rock art most important areas (click to enlarge)

Valcamonica, the Cemmo 1 boulder, Copper Age
Valcamonica, the Cemmo 1 boulder, Copper Age

Valcamonica, Vite, rock 55, Iron Age
Valcamonica, Vite, rock 55 Iron Age

Valtellina, the Rupe Magna, 'Jumpimg figures', Bronze Age
Valtellina, the Rupe Magna,
"jumping figures", Bronze Age

Valsusa, meandering figures, Bronze Age
Valsusa, meandering figures,
Bronze Age

Val Pellice, grid-paintings, Neolithic
Val Pellice, grid-paintings,

Valle Po, Bric Lombatera, cup-marks, Iron Age
Valle Po, Bric Lombatera,
cup-marks, Iron Age

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