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Rupe Magna, Grosio, Valtellina, Italy

Rupe Magna (‘Big Rock’) is an 84 m long and 35 m wide rock surface which was polished by glaciers and heavily engraved during prehistoric times. The first figures belong to the final Neolithic and/or Copper Age(spirals, arcs etc.). In the Bronze Age anthropomorphic figures were added, the so-called oranti (praying figures, because they hold their arms up as if in prayer). The figures developed into fighting scenes during the Iron Age and there are even some crosses from historic times.There are more than 5000 figures engraved on this rock panel with about 60 % just cupules and lines and 30 % anthropomorphic figures. Representations of animals are scarce. It is the largest engraved rock in the Alps.

Although 83 % of the engravings are assignable to the Iron Age, the first figures belong to the final Neolithic and/or Copper Age. These consist mostly of cup and ring marks, lines or lines which are  combined to arc like motifs.

In the Bronze Age anthropomorphic figures started to be added, the so-called oranti (praying figures, because the hold their arms up as if in prayer).

Here is a figure to show you in more detail what is depicted. It was a rainy day and therefore the petroglyphs are not as visible as they are on sunny mornings or evenings when there is a deep shadow outlining the figures.

Rupe Magna, Grosio, Lombardy, Italy. Outline of anthropomorphic figure.

The figures developed into armed figures and even fighting scenes during the Iron Age and some crosses from historic times document a late use, although probably only to de-devilish the site as it was done in other areas. Representations of animals are scarce.

On the Rupestre.net webpage you can find this excellent chronological table for the Rupe Magna:

Most anthropomorphic figures were made during the Bronze Age, a time when the site was already settled. Excavations at the castle site showed that it was settled at least from the beginning of the  Bronze Age. Here the stratigraphy from the excavation (the dark red colour symbolises the prehistoric, mainly Bronze Age, settlement):

Castello Visconti near Rupe Magna. Site stratigraphy

There is also an undeniable connection to Situla art, especially the depiction of fist fights with dumb-bells. Situlas can be found not only in the Etruscan area of influence but even more so  in the complete Eastern Hallstatt Culture, especially Istria and Slovenia, and as imported goods even in Germany and beyond.

http://www.lessing-photo.com/p2/070103/07010351.jpg

In 1978 a consortium for the protection and study of the engravings was established and there is a small museum, called the ‘Antiquarium’ near the site which displays objects from the excavations of the castle site. A bookshop is also present.

Further reading:

Arcà, A. et al. 1995. Rupe Magna, la roccia incisa piú grande delle Alpi, Sondrio.

http://www.rupestre.net/alps/valt_rupe.html

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