Friday, October 3, 2008

Rock carving event

Below: two sun symbols and the word Pierre (jerk)
Left: the Prof taking some ink rubbings

So I have done something totally out of character, I went on a guided walk with a bunch of people in MY stamping ground and did not bite anyone. And perhaps even more out of character I’m really glad I did go. The all day walk was to explore some rock carvings with an expert, THE expert, Riccardo Dosio. I had expected a couple of weirdos but found 30 odd fun people many of whom as usual in this valley, I have been seeing around for years and never had the opportunity to speak to before. Prof. Dosio is extremely knowledgeable about rock art and totally unlike any other academic I’ve ever met. He has a light in his eyes and an enthusiasm and particularly a way with people which captivates everyone. He spends a lot of his time, like me (or rather I spend a lot of time like him), hunting out groups of rock carvings. Unlike me, he actually discovers them. He took us to three groups of carvings in an area I had not visited, one group of which, and with a fantastic anthropomorphic figure, he discovered only a year and a half ago. All on exposed, south-facing rocks. He, together with the museum in pinerolo is cataloging them and the Prof. was a mine of information about where to find others. So today I’m having a day off and I’m off hunting.

This valley never ceases to amaze me. It’s alive. How many places are there that you can go out for a walk and find hitherto undiscovered rock carvings? These places are vibrant and have character that the mass tourism of bigger sites has destroyed. I think many people on the walk felt the same, these are OUR carvings. They are personal. And because they are hidden and isolated and very few know they are there and even fewer have the slightest interest in hiking up there to see them you can still feel the presence of those that built them. They are just there, hidden and untouched as they have been for thousands of years. The sort of places you can find, uncover mark and photograph and cover over again to remain hidden again for who knows how long.

I resolved a decade of wondering too as we were sitting in a circle munching during lunch. I had always been puzzled by the vast quantity of caved rocks and the total lack of stone tools. BUT you see, I had narrow-mindedly been looking for flint all this time totally ignoring the fact that on a mountain in the area flint-like greenstone was taken and traded in the pellice valley. There IS no flint. As the Prof. said, if you find green stone in the valley it has to be imported and it had to have been imported in the Neolithic or anyway up to the iron age. He gave us all a sample so now I have to start all over again looking at the sites I have come across to see if there are flakes of greenstone. Woe is me!! Such personal sacrifice!!

Another curiosity satisfied. You occasionally find grooves on the rocks which seem to be out of character with the other carvings. Apparently these are simply sharpening grooves used to hone the tools blunted when carving the rock. I find these more fascinating than the cup markings for some reason. It was a fun day and nice to see such a variety of people interested in these things.

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