Alpes-maritimes: Neolithic Rock Paintings Discovered In Valdeblore
Prehistory lovers, who already appreciate the site of the Valley of Merveilles in the Alpes-Maritimes, will be delighted to learn that a major discovery has just been made above the hamlet of La Roche in Valdeblore. This time, it is not about engravings but about an exceptional set of 120 rock paintings!
An amazing discovery in the Alpes-Maritimes
A new prehistoric site has just been discovered in the Mercantour Park, which is already home to the famous Valley of Wonders!
It is a few kilometers from the Italian border, on the cliffs overlooking the hamlet of La Roche on the commune of Valdeblore, that Marcel and Loïc Pietri made this amazing discovery in August 2022.
Father and son did not expect to find 4000 year old cave paintings when they passed by last summer during a simple mountain hike.
"The incredible discovery of a prehistoric site in the Alpes-Maritimes. A "mini Valley of Wonders" has been discovered in #Valdeblore. This time it is not about engravings ..." https://t.co/3Y1cGvNGhD? @Nice_Matin #AlpesMaritimes #Archeology #History06 #Nice06 #NRDV pic.twitter.com/QDIOMfDor0— NiceRendezVous® Nice06 (@nicerendezvous) January 31, 2023
A rare set of 120 cave paintings
While the Vallée des Merveilles is known for its rock engravings, the commune of Valdeblore may soon become famous for its... 4,000-year-old paintings! Carbon-14 dating has estimated that these paintings were executed between 2100 and 2000 BC, at a pivotal time between the end of the Neolithic and the beginning of the Bronze Age.
The site revealed by the two hikers on the bare surface of the cliff near the climbing routes is home to a total of 120 rock paintings. These drawings had previously gone unnoticed because their light yellow color is difficult to discern on the rock and they were partially camouflaged by vegetation.
This rock fresco, which has been authenticated by members of the Institute of Prehistory and Archaeology Alps Mediterranean, is believed to be a representation of fighting scenes and funeral celebrations.
The motifs traced with the fingertips by our prehistoric ancestors represent warriors in the elementary form of anthropomorphic silhouettes. Specialists have recognized men, but also some dogs, other animals and representations of deities, not to mention drawings of bows and daggers.
A mini valley of wonders?
The local press, which echoed the discovery, has already labeled it the mini Valley of Wonders even though the two sites are very different, both in scale and in the nature of the artworks found there.
The famous Valley of Wonders is located about 20 kilometers away, near Mount Bego. Some 40,000 engravings dating from about 3300 years before our era have been discovered there and the site has been classified as a historical monument.
Although the Valdeblore site is much smaller, it is a rare discovery. Rock paintings drawn with pigments are much rarer than engravings. There are only two other examples listed in the whole department of the Alpes-Maritimes.
According to Claude Salicis, president of the Institut de Préhistoire et d'Archéologie Alpes Méditerranée, this remarkable discovery suggests that this place was a sacred site for Neolithic man. Although the figures drawn on the rock are very simple, even schematic, they could constitute one of the most important Neolithic sites in Provence.
The fragile paintings discovered in the commune of Valdeblore are now waiting to be duly protected, so that this testimony that has come down to us from prehistoric times can be shared with future generations.