Epipaleolithic in Valcamonica rock art

The Hunters-Gatherers' Season

Reconstruction of a deer hunting during Upper Paleolithic timesBetween 14.000 and 10.000 years B.C., the last glacial era (Wurm) came to and end, creating a drastic environmental change in Valcamonica and all over the Alps. From a geological point of view there was the transition from Pleistocene to nowadays Holocene. From a human history perspective the Palaeolithic finished and the Epipalaeolithic-Mesolithic begun.

Wealth of water turned the Valley floor and the mountain sides into lush forests, perfect shelter for many animals making their way from the planes to the mountains, followed by small groups of hunters.

These men were of Palaeolithic origin, their life depended on the natural resources they could find: wild fruits in the woods and hunting animals for meat to eat, skin for clothes and bones to make tools. Stones, wood and bones, skilfully prepared, were used as utensils and tools. Their dwellings were made of branches, tents put together with poles and animal skins, but sometimes they just lived under projecting roof of stone during the seasonal migrations of the herds. They gathered in small nomad groups, most likely linked by blood relation (enlarged families and clans), quite independent one from the other.

Thousands of years before, the Palaeolithic ancestors of these men decorated the walls of deep caves in south-western France and in the Spanish Pyrenees mountains with figures of big animals as part of a magic ritual to propitiate a good hunt and the perpetuation of life. The Valley saw the arrival of men well used to the art of magical decoration and engraving, they just kept their tradition alive in a new place.

We have proof of their artistic expression in the middle-low Valcamonica (Parco Comunale di Luine, Darfo Boario Terme, BS) where we can see some big animal figures, the very first of hundreds of thousands that would be produced in the following millennia.