UNESCO World Heritage Site
The rock drawings in Valcamonica are the first of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, comprising one of the largest collections of prehistoric rock art in the world. Valcamonica is a valley situated in the Italian central Alps. Its name takes origin from the Camunni, the original people here living during the Iron Age, then conquered by Rome in 16 BC.
There have been about 200,000 figures and symbols carved into the rocks over a time span of approximately 8,000 years. Located two hours drive from Milan, Valcamonica’s pictures depict various scenes and are connected through common themes like magic, war, navigation and agriculture.
The rock drawings discovered in Valcamonica were the first prehistoric symbols of their kind recognized anywhere in the world. UNESCO first recognized the drawings in 1979 when about 140,000 were discovered.
These drawings are spread all across the valley, but are seen in larger numbers in Paspardo, Cimbergo, Nadro, Capo di Ponte and Darfo Boario Terme. The carvings began to taper off during the Iron Age and the last periods have been attributed to the Camunni people who have been mentioned in many Latin sources. Still there are drawings that have been identified as being from Roman and medieval times with others dated to as late as the 19th century. Many of these were created using the martellina technique of engraving.
Valcamonica (or Valle Camonica), in Lombardy, extends over approximately 90 km (56 mi) in the middle of the eastern Alps, between the Provinces of Brescia and Bergamo.
The earliest rock drawings date back to 8-6 millennium BC. Centuries before Valcamonica was covered by a glacier and after the retreat of the glacier the land was inhabited and the rock engravings completed. The symbols are believed to have been made by nomadic hunters who followed the movements of their animal prey. Most figures depicted in these rock drawings are of typical prey like elk and deer, which were quite common in the area at the time.