Roman period in Valcamonica rock art

History's Season

Illustration: a Roman statueFor centuries the Camunni had contact and traded with other cultures and tribes nearby. This prepared them for the impact with the fast expanding 'international super-power' of their time: Rome.

The transit road through the Northern Alps had to be controlled (the sack of Rome by the Gauls was well remembered) and the domains along the Po river plane had to be protected from predatory invasions by alpine tribes, included the Camunni. All these reasons convinced the Romans to conquer the alpine regions and settle there. After some preliminary actions, the year 16 B.C. saw the end of the territorial autonomy of the Camunni and the end of Prehistory in this area.

Quite soon Rome granted the Camunni more and more civil rights, a clear sign that they were not unwilling to be absorbed in the wide Roman world. In fact the arrival of the Romans granted the Valley peace and wealth for more then three centuries.

Crucial point for the control of the area was a new town, built following the typical Roman plan: Civitas Camunnorum (nowadays buried underneath the modern Cividate Camuno), ten kilometres south of Naquane.

The contact with the Roman world knocked out the engraving tradition, already weakened in the last two centuries B.C. The engravers almost disappeared, coming back for brief moments during the Middle Age and even in a very recent past. Within the Christian ideology, which took more than a century to make its way in the Valley, the signs and symbols changed, but not the rocks, neither the thousand years old ritual gestures.