Copper Age in Valcamonica rock art

The Big Stone's Season

Boulder with prehistoric engravings from Borno, Naquane National Rock Art Park, Capo di Ponte (Valcamonica)The steady evolution of the Neolithic in the Valcamonica lead at the beginning of the III millennium B.C. to a new and well definite situation.

The Valley saw the arrival of the plough which, combined with the use of the oxen, started the season of the animal energy, still in use in a lot of places around the world.

With the development of cattle breeding the practice of milking started too, then cheese production was the next step, still today a valuable resource in the mountain economy. Wool begun to be seen as useful for spinning and weaving, until then done with vegetable fibres. Thus followed sheep breeding. All these animals needed to be fed and this lead to the seasonal use of high altitude pastures.

While the Valcamonica was slowly undergoing these changes, from the outside came other extraordinary innovations. The wheel and the cart arrived and then, almost at the same time, the very first metallurgic technology: the copper production.

Boulder with prehistoric engravings from Ossimo, Naquane National Rock Art Park, Capo di Ponte (Valcamonica). Detail.The internal development, together with the contribution from outside, rapidly changed the traditional socio-economic structures: the growing agricultural output created a food surplus, consequently a demographic expansion and then the necessary division of jobs within the society. The job producers ended up creating specialized groups (farmers, hunters, cattle farmers, artisans and merchants) that changed interpersonal relationships and social rules. From the communal sharing of everything during the Neolithic an increasing class-consciousness developed, where there were people that could amass and control communal resources. It could be that this development was obtained by ideological manipulations created by the arrival in the Valley of a strong philosophical current, at that time spreading all over Europe, scattering it with megalithic monuments most likely dedicated to the cult of the ancestors.

In this period a lot of boulders, decorated with celestial symbols (the sun-disc), animals, weapons, ploughing scenes, lines of human figures and other signs, were erected in a few but very famous sanctuaries (for example the Cemmo Boulders Park and the Anvoia Park in Ossimo). They were dedicated to the ancestors, themselves the symbol of the community identity and of the settlement stability, within a territory almost completely occupied by men and, thanks to the new technologies, almost 'tamed'.