Ancient European rock-art today: the need and an opportunity

  • bedolina

Amongst the most famous of all images in European art are the bulls in the Ice Age cave of Lascaux and other masterpieces of prehistoric rock-art. They are ‘rock-art’ because they are artistic productions painted on to, or cut into the surfaces of natural rock formations. Rock-art is a part of the continent’s heritage. It is hugely popular, yet it is fragile and the presence of mass audiences damages the masterpieces that the crowds come to see. Lascaux and most of those caves are therefore now closed for the safety of the brittle images. The public interest in the roots of European art remains.

Rock-art has another problem. It is fixed in stone. This makes it impossible to take the original art works to the public in the way conventional paintings on canvas can be loaned to exhibitions and so travel around the continent. So how is rock-art to be made visible to the public, both today and in the future?



“Pitoti” is a pilot project that aims to find a solution to this problem. It is a collaboration between archaeologists, museum professionals and media technologists from the UK, Italy and Austria. The strategy is to use the cutting edge imagining technology of today to preserve and show the images that have survived from our deep past.

The exhibition uses the Europe’s largest find of rock-art, as a spring board for developing techniques in the recording and display of rock-art that will have relevance around Europe, since rock art can be found all over the continent from northern Scandinavia to southern Spain. The process of making this exhibition has a key advantage, since an exhibition is both a research tool AND a means of disseminating the results of that work. The exhibition provides a practical focus for the dialogue between disciplines as diverse as archaeology, art history, film, acoustics, heritage management, photography and graphic design.

  • 01 Bedolina Rock 1 - Seradina-Bedolina archaeological park
  • 02 Bedolina Rock 5 - Seradina-Bedolina archaeological park
  • 03 Bedolina Rock 7 - Seradina-Bedolina archaeological park
  • 04 Campanine Rock 6 - Rock art natural reserve of Ceto Cimbergo Paspardo
       full gallery view..

This dialogue is then extended between different nations and language groups, the arts and the sciences, and finally between those concerned with the hi-tech future and those interested in our European roots. The digital nature of the exhibition material makes the project very mobile and allows it to be circulated around the continent to museums and galleries. As a piece of electronic heritage management it will easily have a long life on the internet, music and film festivals.