The engraving - La Grotta del Genovese

The Engraving


The engraving show mostly animals of big height, even if we can find four human representation. Every graffiti was dated back to the final phase of Late Palaeolithic. That's the period of passage from the Pleistocenic geologic age to that olocenic one, when the climatic changes due to the regression of the continental glaciers, forced the man to adapt himself to a changed ecosystem. He adopted some cultural changes that transformed him from simple hunter to hunter, fisherman and shellfish picker.

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  • Incisioni grotta del Genovese
  • Incisioni grotta del Genovese
  • Incisioni grotta del Genovese
  • Incisioni grotta del Genovese


It seems that in Levanzo, the same great expressive phenomenon that in the Late Palaeolithic happened in the French-cantabrian region verified in a smaller scale, leaving great reproductions of animals very similar to that ones in the Grotta del Genovese. Walls and vaults of the well-known Pyreneic caves, such as Altamira in Spain or Lascaux in France, keeps about ten Palaeolithic paintings, in a naturalistic style that find is greatest expression in Italy in the Levanzo's engraving.

The animals engraved in the Grotta del Genovese are Cervus Elaphus (deer), Bos Primigenius (bull), l'Equus Asinus Hidruntinus (a short horse) and maybe a cat, or an incomprehensible animal.
About every animal is represented by profile ad has not the inner particularities of the body, because it was engraved with a single stroke which traces only the outline. There's only a bull depicted frontally and an eye for an horse. The animals of Levanzo have very naturalistic features.
Even without depicting details and chiaroscuro, the attempt to reproduce what nature shows is successful. As an example, we can look at the fawn that looks behind him, at the scene where a bull follows a cow, in the depiction of a running bull, where his bustle is perfectly shown.
In the Palaeolithic, the hunt for the animals represented in the cave was surely very important for the survival of the men. Even the simple observation of animals aroused to the cavemen great suggestion, that caused adulation that found his outlet in the wall paintings.

Three anthropomorphic figures are regrouped in a scene that develops around a central character of big size, without arms, with a wedge-shaped head, a long beard and a big belt. The characters around him are smaller, and in contrast to the central figure (which is rigid and statuary) seems to be moving, maybe dancing around an high rank character. The left side character is depicted in profile, with open arms and an hat bird-shaped or horse-shaped. The right side one, instead, has got a rounded body, a wedge-shaped head with a long plume. This group is very schematic, and we can't find any particular common way of realization between this group and the more realistic representation of animals. However, the three human figures remind the anthropomorphic pictures in the French-cantabrian caves, due the anatomic imprecision which characterise them.
The fourth human picture engraved in the Genovese's Cave is two running legs. It's a strong symbolic significance, which is deduced by the lack of any other anatomic detail beside the legs. In this graffito we can find a return to a more naturalistic vision and the abandon of stylization.

Paolo Graziosi found inside the cave a piece of stone with the engraving of a bull very similar to that one depicted on the wall. Thanks to it, and to the dating with C-14 on a shell of Patella Ferruginea, we dated the layer and consequentially the graffiti to 9680 b.C. .