UNESCO cultural heritage

When Valcamonica rock art was recognised as World Cultural Heritage, the first listing in Italy, many people wondered on what ground apparently indecipherable engravings left on rock surfaces by a small number of prehistoric inhabitants of this valley should be granted such an honour. In fact, a similar recognition was granted only later to artefacts and sites that occupy more important positions in the Italian cultural conscience and textbooks, such as Venice and her lagoon, the Last Supper by Leonardo at St. Maria delle Grazie (Milan), the Roman Forum, and the Historic Centre of Rome.
The granting committee, with representatives from different countries, established that Valcamonica rock art was not just the expression of short periods of glory or an icon of national identity, but a testimony of European history, a piece of history that was still largely unpublished. As a matter of fact, Valcamonica, located to the north of Brescia and Bergamo, with its thousands of rock engravings, which have been dated, grouped by periods, and analysed in their content, provides 10,000 years of European history, 8,000 of which preceding Roman rules, a history almost ignored by contemporary historiography.
And what a story! Extraordinary “strip cartoons” printed on rocks by the protagonist themselves, the artists; we would rather call them authors, scribes or narrators who followed one another over the millennia. This immense heritage has remained in situ, from where it is being unearthed, while we can even work out the position in which the engraver was when he carried out that millenarian testimony.

Therefore the Valcamonica rock engravings are rightly considered a cultural heritage of humanity. So far, no other source provides a similar amount of data for the reconstruction of the origins of European history. This historic reconstruction is being carried out by decoding and reading the messages left on the rock by the ancient inhabitants of this valley, the Camunians. This may justify the nameĀ Civilisation of rocks, for the art sequence of millennia unearthed in this valley.