The Cemmo's Boulders

The Archaeological Site at Pian Delle Greppe

Incisioni rupestri: dettaglio del Masso di Cemmo n. 1The name 'Cemmo's Boulders' comes from the village of Cemmo, part of Capo di Ponte and located North of the municipality (around 400 metres a.s.l - Capo di Ponte, Brescia), and indicates two big boulders made of Verrucano Lombardo (Permian Sandstone, grey-violet in colour) that fell from the high wall of rock enclosing the small glacial valley know as Pian delle Greppe to the North-West. They were found by the ancient local people who decided to engrave them during the Copper Age (III millennium B.C.).

Known to the local population only, the boulders were introduced to a wider audience in 1914 by Gualtiero Laeng, an alpine climber from Brescia who wrote a small entry about them inside the Italian Touring Club guide of Lombardia. After that only the first boulder (Cemmo 1) remained visible, while the second one (Cemmo 2) was covered by pebbles and debris and was brought back to light again only at the beginning of the '30s.

After the first research carried on by Giovanni Marro, Paolo Graziosi and Raffaello Battaglia (1930-31) we have to wait until 1962 to see new archaeological studies. In that year Emmanuel Anati began a new excavation under the patronage of the Archaeological Superintendence. He found an alignment of big stones between the two boulders and a deposit of ochre's most likely used to paint the engraved figures.

At the beginning of the '80s a lucky find brought the number of the boulders to three (Cemmo 3), about twenty metres south from the first two. Other excavations carried on by the Lombardia region Archaeological Superintendence (Raffaele de Marinis) found another piece of boulder (Cemmo 4).

In the '90s excavations started again with new energy, getting bigger and bigger until they became a real extensive campaign in 2000. A piece of a fifth boulder (Cemmo 5) recovered in 1995 near the excavation done in the '80s had hence convinced the Superintendence (Raffaella Poggiani Keller) to widen the research. The still ongoing project brought to light the structure of a real megalithic sanctuary, composed by a big semi circular dry-stone wall just in front of the two boulders, built in prehistoric times and lasted well into the Roman age. A lot of vertical stones were put around the walls and the boulders, all decorated with the characteristic Copper Age imagery (solar signs, weapons, animals, ploughing scenes, garments and so on). A lot of these stones have been found intact or fragmented during the excavations (so far the numbers of decorated monuments found in Cemmo is well over twenty). The site was abandoned only very late (IV-V century AD) when the infiltration of Christianism lead to the foundation of a new sacred site in the nearby Pieve of San Siro.

Right now only two (Cemmo 3 and 4) of the engraved rocks recovered in Cemmo are on display in the Antiquarium, inside the Naquane Park. The other findings will be showed in the soon to be opened Archaeological Museum of Capo di Ponte.