(Loc. LOA, Town of Berzo Demo, Val Camonica) Photo by Paolo Rondini
NEUNAU:writing as a symbolic act
The prehistoric images engraved on the rocks are, to us, a nearly unintelligible form of communication: one of the most primitive forms of human expression, they have been found in many parts of the world from Australia to Europe, to America. Valle Camonica, an alpine valley in northern Italy, is one of the main areas of concentration of rock art worldwide. Here, between the high mountains and narrow glens, the figures fixed permanently on the rock surfaces go along with the evolution of man and, from 13000 BP until the modern era, have carried their legacy to us, offering a unique link to our ancestor’s way of living, thinking, communicating.
It is in only between the 6 th and the 5 th century BC that we begin to meet, engraved together with the “old” figures of men, symbols and animals, the first inscriptions. The writings are performed in two ways: with the technique of percussing the rocks with stone tools and with the graffiti technique, done by scraping the rocks with metal tools. These inscriptions use a local version of the Etruscan alphabet, moulded to express a language that we, today, still do not understand.
Our actual knowledge allows us to recognize some names, like NEUNAU, Mapas, Enes au, Teniau, and so on. Even if between these words there are some which may be referable to certain known deities, it is thought that the majority of the names inscripted belonged to the people that lived here: maybe to express their devotion to the ancient gods or, possibly, to accompany their journey to the netherworld.
A. Marretta, S. Solano, Pagine di Pietra. Scrittura e immagini a Berzo Demo fra età del Ferro e Romanizzazione, Parco Nazionale delle Incisioni Rupestri, Capo di Ponte, Quaderni, 4, 2014