The National Park of Rock Engravings
in Capo di Ponte
The Naquane National Park of Rock Engravings in Capo di Ponte was the first park established in Camonica Valley in 1955. The area extends over 14 hectares of rock art land, a most important section belonging in Camonica Valley’s World Heritage UNESCO site n. 94.
In this park, in a magnificently wooded environment, one can admire as many as 104 engraved rocks, endowed with information panels, divided into 5 easy-to-walk routes for about 3 km. The entire tour of all paths takes at least 4 hours.
On these broad surfaces of glacier-polished, grey-purple sandstone, ancient Valley dwellers made some figures by pecking the rock with stone strikers or, at times, with pointed tools. The rock art chronology in the Park ranges from the Neolithic (5th-4th millennium BCE) and the Iron Age (1st millennium BCE), and there are also engravings from historical times. The best represented period is undoubtedly the Iron Age, when the Valley was inhabited by the Camunni as documented by the Romans.
Some rocks are remarkably large, notably Rock 1, impressive for its extraordinary wealth and variety of engraved figures, all in all a thousand. Among them, many animals, armed men, vertical looms with weights, shovels, huts, cupmarks, and a labyrinth.
On many rocks stand out human stick figures in the so-called orant position: arms upraised, symmetrical legs and a linear body, with some variations. According to studies, this type of figure was first conceived in the Neolithic and lasted till the early Iron Age. On this Park’s rocks one may also see warriors, knights, animals, huts, symbolic figures and Camunian inscriptions, sometimes interpreted as elements of complex scenes, which can’t be figured out easily. Quite often the rock surfaces were engraved over and over, superimposing figures from different ages. In this way, for instance, was created the so-called “village scene” on Rock 35, where some huts engraved over some preceding scenes of deer hunting seem to show a village in action. Some figures display a particular artistic value, such as the famous representation of a running priest or shaman on Rock 35. In some cases we have veritable divine images, as in the case of Rock 70, where an impressive human figure with a remarkable set of deer antlers is interpreted as the god Kernunnos, according to comparisons with the well-known Gundestrup cauldron in Denmark.