The National Archaeological Park
of Massi di Cemmo
The National Archaeological Park of Massi di Cemmo (Cemmo’s Boulders) is located in the little valley of Pian delle Greppe, a short distance from the homonymous hamlet next to Capo di Ponte. This archaeological area is not only greatly suggestive for its natural context, but also very important for the history of Camunian art studies. The recognition of these boulders, in fact, took place in 1909, when young geographer Gualtiero Laeng first mentioned rock engravings in Valle Camonica. Since then, numerous scholars have investigated the area or proposed analysis of the engraved art, from the researches led by Emmanuel Anati for Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici (1962) to the interventions of Lombardy’s Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici since the early 80s, on occasion of public works in the area. The latest research, promoted in view of the creation of the park (established in October 2005), finally allowed reconstruction of the complex and long history of the site.
The zone around the two boulders, which fell off the above rock wall in the early Holocene, turns out to have been frequented by humans since the Ancient Mesolithic (ca. 9th millennium BCE) and in the Recent Neolithic (4th millennium BCE), but it was trasformed into a veritable megalithic shrine in the Copper Age, when the two boulders were engraved, the front area was cut off by three ploughing furrows and enriched by many other steles. In theBronze Age a large wall was built, some 2,50 metres wide at the base, to bound the sacred space, which was remodeled again in the Iron Age (5th-4th, 2nd-1st centuries BCE). The shrine lasted through the Roman age and was definitively dismissed with the coming of Christianity: the steles were knocked down and partly thrown inside some big ditches.
On Boulder 2, beside the figures of animals (ibex, fawn and canines among which are spotted packs of wolves and a dog with an upraised tail), some weapons have been recognized (an axe, a helberd and numerous daggers) along with stylized human figures. Also to be admired are two famous representations of the technological advances of the 3rd millennium BCE: a four-wheeled cart and a plough.
On Boulder 1 there are more than 150 figures comprising animals (deer with long branched antlers, fawn, chamois with short hooked horns, ibex, wild boars or pigs, canines and oxen), daggers and a ploughing scene.
The 20 or more steles and other material finds emerged in recent research are to be put in the National Museum of Prehistory of Camonica Valley at Villa Agostani in Capo di Ponte.