Rock art engravings

Marche – Fabriano (Ancona)

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Valmontagna rock art site

Paintings none
Engravings 5+
Site dimensions not provided
Site orientation not provided
Site altitude a.s.l. not provided

This is the name of the limestone mountain relief that overlooks the karstic gorge of Frasassi in the municipality of Genga (Ancona) in the Marche region. This gorge is rich of natural caves, such as the touristic cave of Frasassi, one of the most famous of central Italy which was discovered in 1971. In 1980 the local speleologist Pietro Giuseppetti of the Gruppo Speleologico Marchigiano announced the discovery of rock engravings on the slopes of the mountain relief, approximately halfway up to the summit.

The art complex described by Giuseppetti had not been studied since the 1980s because of the difficult topographical identification provided by the author who published a short article in the Bullettino del Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici. Mr. Pietro Giuseppetti mentioned a small squared and horizontal panel of 40 cm with figures located at the entrance of a small cave “suitable as a shelter”. In the 2000s, the local history enthusiast Alberto Recanatini wrote that this art panel is located “on a steep and difficult-to-reach slope above the Buco Cattivo cave“. This report may correspond to the one provided by the archaeologist Ausilio Priuli who published in 1991 a compendium about prehistoric and protohistoric art of Italy south of the Alps.

No picture available for this rock art site

Valmontagna rock art figures

According to the only available photo published by Giuseppetti, this panel consists of cruciforms and schematic anthropomorphic figures. The author reported that some of the figures were covered with old patina. As no study has been investigated this set of figures yet, it is currently not possible to formulate hypotheses about their antiquity. Notwithstanding, it is worth mentioning that geometric cross-shaped figures, executed by outline painting or solid color techniques, as well as by deep incisions, are represented in other sites along the mountain reliefs of the Apennines in the Italian peninsula. Examples can be found in the Riparo di Pale in Umbria, Riparo di Sant’Onofrio I in Abruzzo, and Grotta di Fra Liberto in Campania. At the Riparo di Pale, radiocarbon dating of the layers of carbonate accretions sealing a schematic praying figure on the same panel indicate that the figures were painted between 5661±36 and 1569±11 B.C. (1σ, OZE934, OZE933).

The hypothesis of Giuseppetti, given the presence of engraved figures “in segno di croce” (cross), was that this art panel was created by “hermit” in penance around the year 1100, when a Benedictine community settled near the Abbey of San Vittore alle Chiuse (now San Vittore Terme), near the adjacent gorge of Frasassi. 

The engravings discovered in Valmontagna by P. Giuseppetti (from Giuseppetti 1981)



Recanatini, Alberto

La sacralità del Monte Conero : tradizioni mitologiche, religiosità popolare, presenze monastiche Book

Parco nazionale del Conero, 2000.



Priuli, Ausilio

La cultura figurativa preistorica e di tradizione in Italia (vol. I, II, III) Book

Giotto printer, Pesaro, 1991.



Giuseppetti, Pietro

Incisioni rupestri presso Ancona Bachelor Thesis



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