Bronze Age in Valcamonica rock art

The Blacksmith's Season

The economic changes that slowly emerged during the Copper Age - that is to say intensive agricultural activities together with the first systematic trades and rising metallurgy - fully bloomed during the Bronze Age, whose main feature was the achievement of this special alloy.

Rock art: Bronze Age weapons carved on a rock at Luine, Darfo Boario Terme (Valcamonica)Copper tools production had basically served more a ritual than a functional use due to the weakness of the metal itself. Experimenting with tin alloy brought the creation of tools made of bronze, a sturdy metal very useful in the production of tools and, especially, weapons. It were these weapons that gave metallurgy its importance. Made of bronze, they were much more powerful than any other weapon made of stone or copper, giving its possessors an undisputed military advantage. There was a rush to have these new equipment that was manifested in trying to secure control of mining sites, production and trading of these new inventions.

As it happened in all the areas where metallurgy spreaded, in the Valley too there were some families able to completely control the economy of this metal (supplying, production, trading) through the use of the new weapons themselves, used by men working for them, the first 'soldiers' history saw. These men were to become part of a privileged caste within the community for thousands of years: the warrior caste.

The peaceful Neolithic cohabitation vanished completely and gave room to turbulent relations among local land owning powers, fighting for new ways to accumulate resources and wealth (mines and the control of trading routes) and to consolidate their power.

Other than this, there are the engravings made on emerging rocks, whose authors selected from the previous Copper Age richness of themes, basically weapons and their combination and a few others (rings and similar) .

This obsessive representations of weapons, becoming themselves cult objects, is a clear sign of the direction taken not only by Valcamonica society, but by all groups of humans in the European continent at the time: the arrival of a warrior society. The discover of iron will bring these human groups into first millennium and into history books with the names of Greeks, Etruscans, Celts, Rhaetics, Camunni and so on until their final assimilation into the wide Roman world.