Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ancient Graffiti in the Val Camonica


I finally managed to get up to the Val Camonica in Lombardy to visit the prehistoric rock incisions around Capo di Pont. Around this small town are several sites. I managed in one day to visit just two of them.
Val Camonica from Bedolina BS

The guide arrives at Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS
The first place I visited was the “Parco Nazionale delle Incisioni Rupestri di Naquane” just above the town. It is the only one you pay to see, but it is well worth the modest entrance fee. Most of the carvings here date from the Iron age up to when the practice ended with the arrival of the Romans.
Rock 50,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 50,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 50,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 50,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS
At first it is difficult to make out the incisions, but gradually the eye begins to make out the carvings. Bright raking sunlight also helps. Rock 50 the first rock I saw was impressive; but when I arrived at Rock 1 I was left spellbound by the shear expanse and quantity of the carvings. Hunters, warriors, stags and geometrical shapes abound in a wonderful confusion.


Rock 1,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 1,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 1,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 1,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS
Rock 1,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS
Moving on I saw a cart drawn by two horses and at the southern extreme of the park one can see a village depicted along with a deer hunt.
Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 35,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 35,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 35,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 35,Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS

Funeral, Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS
Naquane, Capo di Ponte, BS
I spent a wonderful three hours here. It was time for lunch.

After lunch, I made my way to the other side of the valley. The first stop was the little Archaeological park called “Massi di Cemmo”. This is a very ancient site dating from four thousand BC. Here are just two rocks with carvings. The carved megaliths excavated here are now in the town’s museum.


Cemmo, Capo di Ponte,BS

Cemmo, Cappo di Ponte ,BS
A hundred yards down the road one finds the entrance to the huge “Parco Archeologico Comunal Di Seradina and Bedolina”. Entrance is free. It is a bit less well managed than the first park, but one is freer to explore. The carvings in the lower Seradina park are not as impressive as Naquane, but I found some nice carvings such as the hunting dogs chasing a stag. A stiff sweaty climb on a hot day took me up the Bedolina part of the park. Here one finds the famous Rock 1 which depicts a “map” of a village with houses and what seems to be fields and paths. The location is the edge of a cliff which makes this rock even more dramatic. I managed to spend three hours here as well. Most of the carvings date from the Iron age here too.
Parco Archeologico di Seradina-Bedolina,, Capo di Ponte, BS

Parco Archeologico di Seradina-Bedolina,, Capo di Ponte, BS

Parco Archeologico di Seradina-Bedolina,, Capo di Ponte, BS

Parco Archeologico di Seradina-Bedolina,, Capo di Ponte, BS

Rock 1,Parco Archeologico di Seradina-Bedolina,, Capo di Ponte, BS

Lombard Rose, Rock 1Parco Archeologico di Seradina-Bedolina,, Capo di Ponte, BS

Parco Archeologico di Seradina-Bedolina,, Capo di Ponte, BS



The ticket to enter Naquane also included entrance to the small but fascinating MURPE museum (what a horrible bureaucratic name for a museum). Here it is possible to see the stones excavated at Cemmo and a large section explaining the life of the prehistoric population of this valley

MUPRE, Capo di Ponte, BS

MUPRE, Capo di Ponte, BS

MUPRE, Capo di Ponte, BS
It is amazing how little known these carvings are, even though they are UNESCO World Heritage sites. It was a bit like visiting Stonehenge in the Seventies when one could wander often alone amongst the stones; before the rampant commercialisation of the stones brought the huge crowds, which means one cannot now go inside the stone circle. What is better?

The population of this valley are still known in Italy as “Camuni” the name of the ancient population of this valley who carved many of these rocks.

I finished of the day with a mini cruise on Lago Iseo; smaller and less well known than the classic Italian lakes like Como or Garda. For €5 I took a return trip on the ferry to Monte Isola a mountain that rises out of the lake near Sulzano, BS
 
Monte Isola, BS

Lago Iseo, BS

Monte Isola,BS

Monte Isola, BS
 
Lago Iseo, BS

This is a place I would love to visit again, perhaps in cooler weather.