Valley of the Wonders
Protohistoric engravingsDiscovered at the end of the 19th century, engravings are on rock exposures (moutonnées rocks) or of course of the erratic blocks (Pélite and sandstone primarily).
They are of two kinds:
- of the furrows out of V corresponding to inscriptions or diagrammatic layouts allotted to the recent periods;
- of the depressions or broad cups flat-bottomed, carried out by percussion is allotted to the Bronze Age.
The recent research directed by Henry de Lumley offers a first result concerning the comprehension and the mechanics of the social organization and pertaining to worship of the ancients of the Mediterranean Bronze Age.
Studied for more than thirty years by the team of Henry de Lumley, the site has still nowadays accommodated students in history of art, Archéologie, Géologie of the Quaternaire and Géomorphologie of the whole world under the responsibility of specialized Archéologue S.
More than 30.000 engravings were recorded since the systematic statement undertaken as from 1967 by a collective resulting from a collaboration between universities, museums and scientific institutes, financed by the ministry for the culture and the general advice of the maritime Alps.
The majority of these engravings are laid out around the Bégo Mount, which let suppose with certain scientists that this mount was crowned. The distribution is approximately 50% in the valley of the Wonders, and 50% in the valley of Fontanalbe (or Fontanalba), valleys located respectively at the west and the north of the Bégo Mount.
Cepandant, certain sectors, located more at north of the Bégo Mount, also contain series of engravings, even if those are very residual (at best a few tens of engravings per sector). One can thus establish the following distribution, by decreasing order of importance, with at the head the two principal sectors:
- Valley of the wonders
- Valley of Fontanalbe
And residual sectors
Sector of Valaurette
- Sector of the collar of Sabion (to horse enters France and Italy)
- Secteur of the Lake Holy Marie
- Secteur of Valmasque
- Secteur of the lake of Vei LED Goat (in Italy)
The whole being unequally distributed in a rectangle of 40 km
Geological contextThe sector of the Wonders is located in the middle of the alpine external crystalline solid mass of the Argentera - Mercantour.
Three formations are distinguished within this Permian series.
- At the base, the “formation of Inferno”, transgressive on the base cristallophyllien, is primarily gréso-conglomeratic with some levels of silteux fall.
- Succeeding the formation of Inferno, the “formation of the Wonders” essentially includes/understands Siltite S greenish on which the majority of the protohistoric representations of the valley of the Wonders dated from the Bronze Age were engraved. This homogeneous Sédimentation in lake field knows then episodes of emergence marked by the development of structures stromatiformes and the bioturbations.
- Above these levels, a fluvio-lake sedimentation continues with the deposit of a gréso-conglomeratic unit intersected with silto-sandy finer levels. This unit is called “formation of Bego” and constitutes the last term of this Permian sedimentary sequence.
The carbonated series Mesozoic S were completely eroded in the zone and it is necessary to go down again towards the valley of Roya to find them.
One modelled glacial set up approximately 10.000 years ago confers its morphology particular to the zone with a series of glacial polishes, Moraine S and erratic blocks.
Visits and excursionsA Sentier of great excursion (GR52) crosses this valley. Some Gravure S are visible starting from this path which it is interdict to leave without being accompanied by an approved guide. According to a on the spot working Archeologist, the ideal would be to start by visiting the Musée Wonders (with Tende), then to take part in a guided visit.
Caution: these engravings are far away from the roads, therefore to envisage is:
- a guide which will approach you in 4x4 (1. 30 approx.).
- 3 to 4 hours of walk to reach the entry of the Valley on the basis of the lake of the Wicks (stopping EDF) located at Saint-Dalmas of Tends (in direction of Casterino).
- One night in refuge of the CIF (alpine Club French) or in bivouac in authorized zones (assembly of the tents 19:00, disassembling 9:00).
- Stick of walk shoed.
- Produced nonbiodegradable: detergents, shampoos etc
- to engrave on the rocks.
One can go in the Valley of the Wonders during the season of snows (to envisage the adequate equipment, rackets, gaiters, possibly cramps). The snow-covered landscape is worth the turning, and one is less gene by tourism: engravings are then under snow.
- Site of the tourist bureau of Tends - Valley of the Wonders
- Official site of the museum of the Wonders of Tightens
- Entretien with the director of the Museum of the Wonders
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