GOTO WESTERN ALPS ROCK ART     |    499 / 806   

Italia    Valsusa - Roccia dell'Ascia

Italy map
Keywords: meander, zigzag, bronze age, axe, little axe
Institution: Cooperativa Archeologica Le Orme dell'Uomo (Footsteps of Man)   |   CONTACT
Orme dell'Uomo - Footsteps of Man, Valcamonica - Italy




Mompantero - Costa Seppa






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Mompantero, Roccia dell'Ascia (photo A. Arcą - Footsteps of Man 1990)
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Mompantero, Roccia dell'Ascia, the great axe overlapping the meanders (photo A. Arcą - Footsteps of Man 1991)

Environment & Surface


1015 m
Open-air   Shelter   Cave Portable   Megalithic

Rocky slope, southward exposed, panoramic site, abandoned sheep pasture, xerophilous vegetation (Juniperus, little pine-tree), stone walls, arid and windy area, lateral morainic pudding-stone deposits.




Filladic calcschist (metamorphic rock composed by calcite and mica). This kind of rock allows the pecking technique, but is more affected by the erosion (water and wind) than the Permian sandstone, thus the siliceous component, not soluble in water, is quite resistant.


Smooth, convex, microgranulated, flat, 30° of inclination, patina

Length 1.50 m.  Width 1.50 m.  Depth 0.30 m.


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Mompantero, Roccia dell'Ascia, the tracing (tracing Footsteps of Man and Soprintendenza Archeologica del Piemonte, 1994, axes in black, meanders in grey)
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Engravings   Paintings   Painted engravings   High or low-relief   Sculpture
The three axes are quite different: the first is very large and the second much more tiny, thus of the same shape. They seem to represent a couple, like in CHM2 rock, and they overlap the underlying meandering figure. The third axe is tiny with a very thin handle, quite strictly recalling some little votive axes of the Gallo-Roman period (like in the Roman-Celtic sanctuary of Thoune - Allmendingen, Switzerland-). The pecking of the axes is also larger than the pecking of the meanders, which are more eroded. Two meandering figures take origin from the typical round little-cup-mark.

total number 35
3 axes, 1 unidentified tool connected with the axe, 5 meanders, 1 modern letter "V", sparse dots or groups of pecking


Palaeolithic   Epipalaeolithic - Mesolithic   Neolithic   Copper Age   Bronze Age   Iron Age   Roman   Middle Age   Modern   Unknown
The axes are very similar to the late Iron Age axes (I cent. BC - I cent. AD, in this period the area was occupied by the Celtic people called "Segusii", after the 9 AC the Romans). The meandering subject is a problematic one to be dated. It's possible to find a double chronological attribution: Neolithic-first Copper Age (by comparison with the meanders and the spirals of the Irish passage graves and of the megalithic art) or Bronze Age - First Iron Age (by comparison with the engravings of the Haute Maurienne French valley where such patterns seem to be related to the Iron Age topographical compositions). The study of the superimpositions in the Valsusa area testify that the meandro-spiralic pattern is overlapped by late Iron Age figures, like the axes of this rocks which clearly cut the meanders.


Looking at the engraved surface in the complex it seems evident that the rock has been reversed, probably coming from the terrace above. In this case it is possible that the slab was dressed, like a stele. The entire area was terraced and cultivated (vines, potatoes) till the '50-'60s. No water available if not through artificial channels. It's one of the possible ways to reach the top of the Rocciamelone mountain (more than 3500 m), the highest mountain in the Susa valley, where traditional pilgrimage is still practised (the Holy Mary of the Rocciamelone,

European total bibliography, by EuroPreArt partnersTotal (Europe)
Italia EuroPreArt general bibliography, by Cooperativa Archeologica Le Orme dell'Uomo (Footsteps of Man)General (country)
Specific Valsusa - Roccia dell'Ascia bibliography, by Cooperativa Archeologica Le Orme dell'Uomo (Footsteps of Man)Specific (site)
Rock Art Studies: A Bibliographic worldwide Database (external link). Compiled by Leigh Marymor. Copyright (C) 2001-2002 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley Bibliographic
Rock Art




Public   Private   Park   Classified site


Figures are visible only on a grazing light. The site is poorly attended, thus some people is passing with motorbikes along the mountain path (the rock is just on the path). The surface is affected by the erosion. The area is rarely covered by snow.


Good   Quite good   Mediocre   Bad


The rock has been completely recorded (International western Alps rock art record), traced (contact tracing and digital vectorial rendition), photographed (normal light and grazing light colour slides) under enchargement of the Archaeological Superintendence of Piedmont. More info (Italian version) at and




Andrea Arcą


Cooperativa Archeologica Le Orme dell'Uomo (Footsteps of Man)   |   CONTACT
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Orme dell'Uomo