You are in Home / Travel ideas / UNESCO World Heritage Sites / Valcamonica, the Rock Art / Brief History of Valcamonica

Brief History of Valcamonica

Valcamonica - Rupestrian representation of a warriorThe history of Valcamonica begins with the end of the Glacier Age, otherwise known as the ‘Würms Glaciation’ (or Last Glacial Period), which retreated about 15,000 years ago, to reveal the wide expanse of valley that we see today. The Pre-Indo European population known as the ‘Camuni’ (as the Romans later called them) began to settle in the area only during the Neolithic period, leaving – first as visiting nomads, then as permanent inhabitants of the Valley – innumerable drawings in the rock of caves. With these primitive and singular artworks, Valcamonica fully earns its spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  

From the 16th Century B.C. to 476 A.C., the Valley was occupied by the Romans that guaranteed to its inhabitants ample territory in which to govern autonomously. Yet the Latinization of the Camuni took place rather rapidly, and for this Roman politic was responsible, having conferred upon all the valley’s inhabitants Roman citizenship. During the Roman era, Valcamonica was also subject to Barbarian invasions, while the subsequent fall of Rome brought the incursions of the Heruli and Ostrogoth clans, who left wide death and destruction in their wake.

The Lombards ruled the area until 774 A.C., and were then overtaken by the Carolingians, who eventually bestowed the Valley unto the Abbey of Marmoutier. The Benedictines influenced the zone’s turn to Christian faith and traditions.

In circa the year 1000, the sense of self-identification and autonomy that characterized the settlements in the valley gave birth to the so-called ‘Vicinie’, a type of neighborhood association. After 1164, the area's first communes formed (under the Emperor’s permission); in 1428 the Valley was then annexed to the Republic of Venice, putting end to the long dispute between the Lagoon communities and Milan over its control.

Later, in 1769, Brescia was conquered by the French, and so Valcamonica took its name from ‘Canton of the Mountain,’ and was subdivided into seven distinct villages. Agriculture and livestock farming signaled the Valley’s decline during the Napoleonic period; in 1861 it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. During the First World War Valcamonica was several times a battle theatre (one of which was the White War in Adamello). 

Useful Information

Valcamonica - Foppe di Nadro - Melee duel and hand-to-hand fight - Iron Age

Melee duel and hand-to-hand fight - Iron Age
Valcamonica, Foppe di Nadro (rock 6)