Southern African Rock Art Project
 
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Areas of rock art concentration and GCI activity in Southern Africa.

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The dramatic landscape of Giant's Castle Game Reserve, known historically for the presence of the eland and San hunter gatherers, within the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Area in South Africa. Photo: David Myers.

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This detail of a rock painting from the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Area depicts a herd of eland in stately progression, the largest African antelope, sacred to the San and connected with their initiation rites. Photo: Neville Agnew.

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This image of running figures is from the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Area. Photo: Neville Agnew.

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Some scenes, such as this rock painting from the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Area, appear to relate to trance-dances, healing rituals, rain making and often show elongated human figures with antelope heads and hoofs (therianthropes). Photo: Neville Agnew.

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The Cederberg Wilderness Area, located in the southwest of South Africa, is one of the locations where the project's training activities have occurred. It is a rugged area with many rock shelters and overhangs, which were used by the San hunter-gatherers for creating rock art. Photo: Neville Agnew.

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Like in other San rock art in the region, this panel in Zimri rock shelter in the Cederberg depicts eland in stately procession. Photo: Neville Agnew.

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Paintings in the Zimri rock shelter in the Cederberg, illustrating the experience of shamans in altered states of consciousness. In this example, elongated human figures have wildebeest (gnu) heads. Photo: Neville Agnew.

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Cattle were introduced to the Eastern Cape of South Africa by the first Bantu-speaking farmers about 1200 years ago, but the paintings were probably the work of San hunter-gatherers in the same region. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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Patterns such as these at Chongoni, Malawi, have symbolic meaning and were painted with a finger by elders in farming communities in Malawi and Zambia as part of girls' and boys' initiation ceremonies. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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Rock engravings such as these were made by San hunter-gatherers who scraped away the weathered outer layer on dolerite bolders. They are often found near to water sources in this exceptionally dry landscape in the Northern Cape of South Africa. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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This outline engraving in the Northern Cape of South Africa of a hippopotamus is situated on a high ridge above a river that flows intermittently. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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These exceptionally clear paintings are in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Processions of people are typical of dancing scenes associated with altered states of consciousness. The sheep and dogs indicate that the paintings are less than 2000 years old. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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The central human figure in this painting in South Africa's Eastern Cape is either holding a snake or what San shamans refer to as the 'rope to god'. Both help them to obtain power from the spirit world. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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Large antelope like these eland or oryx in South Africa's Northern Cape were engraved by San hunter-gatherers for the power they were believed to have in rain-making. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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This painting in the Eastern Cape of South Africa of the head of a man, with a tuft of red hair on his forehead like that of an eland, emphasizes the close bond between people and eland in San beliefs. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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Rock engravings at Twyfelfontein, Namibia, recently declared a World Heritage site, play with different metaphors and beliefs, in this case an agile kudu. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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Paintings at the so-called Van der Post site in the Tsodilo Hills of Botswana are generally believed to have been the work of early herders within the last 2000 years but retain some of the characteristics of hunter-gatherer art as well. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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Hunter-gatherer rock paintings at Kondoa, Tanzania, depict elephants encircled with lines and associated with what appear to be branches. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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Trainees at the 2006 workshop at Mapungubwe examining signage as part of their studies of the presentation of rock art to visitors. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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Participants at a local stakeholders meeting held at Mapungubwe National Park. Photo: David Myers.

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Common forms of deterioration at rock shelters, which endanger rock art, are basal erosion caused by rising damp and associated salt efflorescence and scouring by wind. Photo: David Myers.

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An important issue examined at project workshops has been planning for visitor access to rock art sites. Wooden walkways, such as these at Giant's Castle in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Area are one approach used to provide access but in some cases can pose a fire hazard to the rock art. Photo: David Myers.

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An important consideration for planning for the conservation and management of rock art sites is the existence of fragile archaeological materials within the floors of rock shelters, in this case the rim of a clay pot. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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Trainees from the 2006 tour guide course at Mapungubwe National Park with instructor Janette Deacon. Photo: Trinidad Rico.

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An image of a giraffe from Machete rock shelter, Mapungubwe National Park, South Africa. Photo: Elizabeth Werden.

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Training in approaches to interpret rock art for specialist tourist gudes at Warmhoek Shelter, Cederberg, South Africa. Photo: Janette Deacon.

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Participants gaining an understanding of the significance of rock paintings at a workshop at Mapungubwe National Park in 2006. Photo: David Myers.