The premises of the choreutic tradition of ancient and medieval Europe are to be found in two figurative repertoires developed between the end of Bronze Age and the beginning of Iron Age, more precisely:
A – The figurative repertoire of rock engravings of Valcamonica, of the decorated Stelae of southern Spain and France, the Stelae of Bologna, of Lunigiana (Tuscany) and Daunia (Puglia), lingering manifestations of European megalithism. Anyone, family or friend, had approached the surface of the engraved rocks or the sacred area where the stelae were placed, could have interacted with them according to the liturgy practiced at that time (singing, gestures, dance, prayer, sacrifice).
B – The figurative repertoire of decorated ceramics found in the cremation necropolis of the Midi of France (the so-called Late Urnfields: Moras-en-Valloire, Vendres, Camp Allaric, Vidauque, Cailhac, Vaucluse, Villeplaine, Villement, Las Fados, Queroy , Rancogne, etc.), the Proto-Etruscan one (Cuma, Sala Consilina, Pontecagnano, Veio, Montalto di Castro, Campo Reatino, Marsiliana d’Albegna) and Alpine (Bourget, Sesto Calende). The fact that these vases and decorated plates were part of the outfit that accompanied the deceased in the world of the dead, leads us to believe that no living being, after the funeral ritual, could have access to such images, whose use therefore became an exclusive prerogative of the spirit of the deceased. The dance represented on the sacred support would thus have continued to dance only in the presence of the deceased, cheering him up until the dawn of time.
In the funeral ritual the ceramic object had a double function: the vase was the container of the remains of the deceased collected after its incineration; other vases and plates were part of the outfit with which the deceased would have faced life after death. On the walls of the vases is represented a wide repertoire of formalized gestures: the worshiper (Cosmic Man), the anthropomorphic with the arms forming a cross (Universal Man) or facing the earth (Chtonian Man). These gestural expressions, which are placed inside metopes in association with geometric elements and symbols, are part of the strips placed on the bulge of the vase or the inside of the plate. The recent research carried out on the Hopscotch Game (Ragazzi, 2015), in which I analyzed the path on which children perform the jumps from one panel to another, has clearly shown how in archaic iconography these geometric elements express the structure, the position and sometimes even the movement of the sky with respect to the observer. Thus, in the dynamics of representation, an important cosmological function is attributed to geometric figures.
At this particular moment of transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, the trade routes that connected the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean to the south of Europe were not yet fully open. For this reason, cultural influences were transmitted following the traffic that took place along the land routes. In the archaeological excavations carried out in the lake hamlet of Bourget (Savoy, IX-VII century BC), for example, objects from sites located beyond the Alps have been found, metal artifacts such as double-spiral pendants, snake-arched fibulas , terracotta matrices used to impress the shape of the swastika or concentric circles in ceramics (Bocquet, 1984). The materials we are talking about were the result of a native production whose models often came from distant regions with which there were stable land contacts. The cultural uniformity that is perceived by comparing the figurative documents coming from many areas of Mediterranean Europe, is particularly evident in the dance and gestural scenes represented on ceramics. We can find this formal affinity comparing the dance of the plate of Moras-en-Valloir (IX century BC) with that engraved on the stele Ossimo 12 (Valcamonica, late III millennium BC). The Moras plate is an interesting encyclopedic treatise on the figurative themes of Mediterranean Europe: the worshiper, the swastika, the water bird, the sun, the plowed land, the orthogonal and diagonal cross, the point or the cup, etc. One of the five registers on the plate is entirely occupied by a circular dance which is the central moment of the entire representation.
A more in-depth study of the symbolism and linguistic organization of this plate of Moras-en-Valloire, together with the many other ceramic documents that preserve the images of the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age, would allow us to formulate more likely hypotheses on the meaning, not only of gestures and dances, but of the entire religious thought of protohistoric man.
The context in which the anthropomorphic moves by dancing and making gestures, is a space in which the ritual action is oriented by the presence of cosmological symbols. If we analyze two ceramic plates, one from Campo Reatino (Rieti) and the other from Marsiliana d’Albegna (Savona), we can see that in the central part of the plates two different ways of representing the center (axis mundi) are recognizable, around to which the gestural action develops. In the case of Campo Reatino we see a circular dance performed by six dancers whose gesture is oriented towards the bottom of the bowl, a cup inside which a swastika is stamped. On the contrary, the four anthropomorphic adorants by Marsiliana have the lower part of the body reduced to a simple line that is detached from the cup in the center of the plate. It is probable that with this graphic solution the one who decorated the dish wanted to render, with a simple straight line, the moment of the exit (anodos) of the lower part of the body of the four adoring from the coppella, axis mundi, point of communication between the human world and hell.