Vai ai contenuti Vai al menu Vai al footer

Sottolaiolo – palette

The small area of Dos Sottolaiolo has several figures of palette, another of those figures that bemuse and perplex scholars.

The palette is a rectangular or, more rarely, oval shaped figure with a handle which is usually fully engraved or sometimes just an outline. Most are topped by a decorated pommel.

As often happens, palette have fairly well defined distribution patterns—absent on the left bank between Sellero and Capo di Ponte, then occurring from Nadro to Sonico.

Iconographic contexts show groups of associated palette, at times, just two and others, as many as five to six. Recent studies of associations and superimpositions show these figures appear in the rock-art of Valcamonica during the Upper-Middle Bronze Age between the XVI and XII centuries BC and continue being made until the middle of the Iron Age at the beginning of the V century BC, but with a significant break from the VIII to VII centuries BC. As yet, no figures have been attributed to the late Iron Age.

There are various theories on possible meanings for these shapes. In the 1930s, Giovanni Marro maintain asserted they were simply “shovels”; during the 1970s, the notion they were mirrors became popular.

Objects that look like palette have been found in tombs of females in the territory of the ancient Adriatic Veneti and Golasecca people, a Celtic culture in the Po Valley that spread out from Novara, Como and Bergamo. The only finds from Valcamonica are the palette engraved on rock. The discovery of a palette in the so-called “tomb of Nerca”, an aristocratic woman found in eastern territory of the Adriatic Veneti revealed slightly more about its purpose, as it came to light with other funerary paraphernalia connected with tending fire (andirons, spits, springs, …). Nevertheless, it could have been used to remove ash from a fire or to bake Focaccia (a flat bread product) or anything else. Some scholars believe they were connected to the funerary rites, possibly a ritual implement for collecting cremated remains and thus, the palette would really seem to be a feminine object with a certain symbolic rôle tied to ritual.

The oldest depictions of palette, attributable to the Bronze Age, are often found in groups of five to six, perhaps signs to show places for women place, forbidden to men.

Even so, palette are consistenly associated with warriors during the Iron Age. Since women are no longer depicted in the rock-art of this period, it is possible their presence was limited to a few select symbols, as also seen with rose camune.