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Rock Carvings in the Italian Alps

  • M. C. Burkitt

Most prehistorians are aware of the existence of a group of rock carvings depicting oxen, ploughs,etc., on the slopes around Monte Bego in the Italian Maritime Alps. As long ago as 1650 they were mentioned by the historian Gioffredo in his History of the Maritime Alps. Since then the only people of archaeological importance who appear to have paid visits to a certain few of the carvings were M. Rivière, in 1877, Professor Celesia in 1885, and Sr. Barocelli in recent years. It was, however, only when the late Clarence Bicknell, a keen botanist who lived at Bordighera, visited the Monte Bego district in search of alpine flowers and became interested in the carvings that a systematic study of them was commenced. For the best part of twenty years, from 1897 onwards, Bicknell worked on both sides of Monte Bego examining and taking rubbings of all the figures he could find. In all, something like 15,000 figures were thus studied, and for the purpose Bicknell built himself a house in the Val Casterino. This is a high, upland valley leading off the Miniera valley which is itself a side valley to the Upper Roya and runs up from San Dalmazzo di Tenda on the Franco-Italian frontier. The Casa Fontanalba, as he named the house, is beautifully situated just at the mouth of the Val Fontanalba, a narrow, steep valley running up from the Val Casterino to Monte Bego itself. The existence of the Casa as a base of operations made a careful study of the carvings possible, but even so they cannot be reached without a two to three hours walk and climb from the house-and it is uphill going all the way !

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1 One must not, of course, forget the possibility of a second autumnal pilgrimage, corresponding to our harvest-home festivals.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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