Route 8 – The Camuni people and the petroglyphs - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Valcamonica is located in the surroundings  of  the western side of  Adamello  mountains , heading north from Brescia; about 10,000 years ago human being  appeared for the first time in continuous settlement:it was a community with its culture, having their indigenous  Myths, cults, and an established economy based on hunting .  Among  its cultural uses and rituals, there  was already  the concept of  symbolic representation of the figures. Their rituals and topic scenes of their lives were represented through drawings and signs on rocks.

the valley is known for being one of the biggest places for rock art and cultural knowledge of the Man in pre history. There are more than 300.000 figures engraved in rocky surfaces, which describe more than 10.000 years of history of human kind. The rocky surfaces with  prehistoric rock drawings are located in an outdoor museum; some of those rocks are  still partially undiscovered .
the figures may appear caotica, but it is possible to observe an evolution of simbolic  and fine arts. These drawings are one of the most ancient ones that have been studied so far.  Studies of its artistic evolution reveals  a conceptual and psychological evolution devided in six main periods:  it starts from the oldest  one dated 8000 BC, which drawings are left by  nomad populations  who sustained themselves on a hunting based living, and heading up to  Medieval Age. this means that its unique site is gathering more than 10.000 years of humankind  history, that collects an entire process of intellectual development of modern man.  The engravings often appear  in relation with each other  when representing a religious ritual or a hunting or battle scene. Each engraving is representing a concept.  Its  function has propitiatory purposes such as celebrations, rituals, memorials and initiations.  Hereunder we are listing some of its rock engravings:

(1)  Camunian Labyrinth
the Labyrinth (a symbol that is often refered to the Man) probably symbolizes the path of initiation from youth to adulthood.

(2) Heaven and Earth
  there are scenes  representing the  worship of  Sun Disc deity , as well as other figures representing probably gods and godesses. This seem to testify a vision of heaven and mother earth. There are engravings representing deities for  the fertility of the fields, fertility of the land, and other representation of women and animals indicate the worship of Mother Goddess,the  female entity of fertility. The figures with  raised hands represent both prayer and scenes of magical  possession

(3) The Camunian Rose
According to the latest researches, this engraving is considered to be an astral map, indicationg different spots where  sun is rising and falling  during  winter and summer solstices. The presence of spherical engravings (so called cupels)  are crediting  the hypothesis that these symbols represent the sun.

(4)  God Kernunnus (Deer)     
this figure represents the hunting and forest deity. It’s a tall human figure dressed in a long robe , with deer antlers in the head (it was a rare animal) symbolizing fertility and reproductive power of nature, both of which are necessary to keep the tribe alive.