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Ancient Rock Drawing of Valcamonica

Valcamonica, situated in the Lombardy plain, has one of the world's greatest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs known as The Rock Drawings of Valcamonica depicting themes connected with agriculture, navigation, war, magic, and maybe visitors from outer space.  These ancient rock art stretch over a period of 8,000 years leading up to our present era, making these human renderings absolutely invaluable.

Image credit:© Elisabetta Roffia. UNESCO

The Rock Drawings of Valcamonica are prehistoric petroglyphs carved in the glacier-polished, grey-purple Permian sandstone of the Camonica valley that extends for 90 km in the Italian provinces of Brescia and Bergamo in Lombardy. The name of the valley comes from “Cammunni”, the name its inhabitants carried during the Iron Age.

The vast majority of the petroglyphs are made on subglacially streamlined bedrock and glacial erratic surfaces revealed as the last glacier to form the valley retreated approximately 15,000 years ago.

The collection was recognized by Unesco in 1979 and was Italy's first recognized World Heritage Site. Unesco has formally recognized more than 140,000 figures and symbols, but new discoveries have increased the number of catalogued incisions to between 200,000 and 300,000.

Image credit: World History Encyclopedia

The earliest rock carvings date back to epipaleolithic (or Mesolithic, Proto-Camunian, 8th-6th millennium BC), several millennia after the retreat of the glacier that covered the Val Camonica. Those carvings were the work of passing nomadic hunters, following the migrations of their prey. The figures represented in fact depict large animals such as deer and elk, which are the typical prey of that period. The drawings also describe animals wounded with spears. This kind of rock art can be typical for hunters-gatherers and associated with blades and microlites industry.

The long arc of history that these carvings span, executed on over 2500 rocks (on both sides of the valley), render this place particularly moving; roaming among these rock incisions, one will find narrations regarding evolutions of customs and of the mentality of our prehistoric ancestors.

In the 1960s, the archaeologist Emmanuel Anati, among the first to systematically study the area, drew up a chronology of rock carvings. It compared the style and types of the symbols to identify possible correlations with the traditional historical periodization, from Prehistory to the Middle Ages.

According to Anati's research results, Val Camonica is divided into Proto-Camunian, Camunian I, II, III, IV and Post-Camunian (Roman, Medieval ages and recent) periods.

Most of the drawings are of symbols and animals, but a few, such as the ancient astronaut drawings. The petroglyphs seem to show the strange figures in protective suits, while white lines also seem to be coming from the heads, with some suggesting that it depicts lights built into the helmets.

Ancient Astronauts. Image credit: Wikipedia

The cryptic drawings, appear to show two men in helmets with strange weapons – proof that ancient astronauts from other solar system came to Earth, according to some.

Conspiracy theorists believe that aliens are depicted through human history, claiming that E.T. (Extra Terrestrial) has guided mankind’s evolution.

They point to things such as the mystery still surrounding the building of the pyramids and various other rock drawings as proof that aliens have come to Earth to give our ancestors a helping hand.

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