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18 August 2010
Rock-art recording in the Italian Alps

An international team led by Professor Angelo Fossati of the Catholic University of Brescia and the Footsteps of Man Archaeological Society have been involved in the search for new prehistoric rock-art sites around Paspardo, high up on the intermediate slopes of Valcamonica in the Alpine region of Lombardy, northern Italy. Carved rock-art scenes depict wild and domesticated animals, hunting parties, duelling warriors and structures (interpreted as huts and houses). The finely pecked engravings have survived for thousands of years, protected by soil and leaf litter deposition. To record all them, the team used a number of different techniques including mirror reflection from oblique angles, acetate tracing, and 3D and laser photogrammetric survey methods.
     Over the past 12,000 years Valcamonica has provided important a settlement area and trade route. The area containing over 200,000 petroglyphs was, in 1979, the first Italian site to be included in the prestigious World Heritage List of UNESCO. The majority of the petroglyphs are carved onto polished smooth sandstone and schist rock-outcropping located on the lower and intermediate slopes of the valley to an altitude of c. 2100m above sea level; the earliest dating the Late Upper Palaeolithic.
     This year an international team involving Bristol students concentrated their efforts on recording the large Rock No. 4 of In Valle, which was first identified in the 1930s. This large exposed surface is divided into a series of panels containing a plethora of stylistic and representative carvings that span the Bronze and Iron Ages. The team worked on the upper section of the rock, where a series of new carvings were recorded, including duelling warriors and hunting scenes.
     The Footsteps of Man Archaeological Society, who have been involved in intensive fieldwork on this side of the valley for over 20 years, have been engaged in the discovery, recording and study of numerous sites such as Dos Sotto Laiolo, Dos Custapeta, Dos Sulif and Baite Fles-Saline. It is hoped that next group of Bristol students will complete the recording of Baite Fles-Saline, the highest decorated surface to be discovered so far, located around 300m above the village of Paspardo.  

Source: Angelo Fossati, George Nash, Mila Simőes de Abreu (17 August 2010)

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