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Messages from the Past
The Rock Art of Eastern and Southern
Rock Art Book
Messages from the Past
The Rock Art of Eastern and Southern
The World of Petroglyphs
Society for coverage of prehistoric and ancient rockpaintings
D- 55442 Warmsroth
Fax 00 49 6724 - 95621
Layout: StoneWatch J. Otto Print: StoneWatch ISBN-3-00-007863-0 Copyright by the Author and StoneWatch Bruno Schmidt Messages from the Past The Rock Art of Eastern and Southern Africa Contents List of Maps and Annexes 5 Acknowledgements 6 Preface. 7 Part 1 : Travelling along the Sites. 9 Introduction. 9 The Southern African “San” Zone - Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa. 12 The Eastern African “Hadza and Sandawe” Zone - Tanzania 59 The Central African “Twa” Zone - Angola, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. 66 The Eastern African and Lake Victoria Zone - Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania 88 The Northeastern African Bovidean Zone - Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. 101 Part 2 : History and Archaeology of the Sites. 111 Introduction. 111 The first Discoverers of Eastern and Southern African Rock Art 112 The Techniques of Paintings and Engravings 115 The Art Regions, Styles and Sequences 119 The Problem of Dating. 125 The Art Mobilier 130 Part 3 : Broader Ethnic Picture of Eastern and Southern African Rock Art. 132 Introduction. 132 The early Inhabitants and Artists 133 The Migration of the Cushitic- and Nilotic-speaking Pastoralist People 148 The Migration of the Bantu-speaking Agriculturist People.
I am grateful to the many people who have assisted me with this book, being prepared to discus my numerous and bothering questions with me, to guide us to the sites or to support me by books, articles, papers or other informations. That concerns as well people in the countries
we visited as experts of rock art in Europe. I wish to thank all these persons for their assistance by giving their names, functions and domiciles as follows:
Dr. George H. O. Abungo, Director Regional Museums, Sites & Monuments, Nairobi, Kenya Mrs. Lorna L. Abungo, Coordinator of the Regional Centre for the Study of Archaeology, Nairobi, Kenya Mrs. Rosemary Andrade, Curator of the Swaziland National Trust Commission, Lobamba, Swaziland Mrs. Dr. Erna Beumers, Curator Volkenkunde Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands Mrs. Maud Brown, Kuru Development Trust, D’Kar (Ghanzi), Botswana Dr. Pavel Červiček, freelanced Archaeologist, Darmstadt, Germany Mr. Donald D. Chikumbi, Director of the National Heritage Conservation Commission, Livingstone, Zambia Mrs. Dr. Janette Deacon, Archaeologist, Director National Monuments Council, Cape Town, South Africa Mrs. Svetlana Durkovic, Archaeologist, Washington DC, USA Mr. Domingos Fernando, Departemento de Monumentos, Maputo, Mozambique Mr. Peter Garlake, Archaeologist, Borrowdale Homestead, Harare, Zimbabwe Mrs. Carina Greven, Librarian, Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Mr. Óscar Manuel Fernandes Guimarães, Instituto Nacional do Património Cultural, Luanda, Angola Dr. Ephrahim R. Kamuhangire, Commissioner for Antiquities and Museums, Kampala, Uganda Dr. Tilmann Lenssen-Erz, Heinrich-Barth-Institut, Cologne, Germany Prof. Dr. J. David Lewis-Williams, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa Mr. Willard M. Michala, Director of the Department of Antiquities, Lilongwe, Malawi Dr. David Morris, Director McGregor Museum, Kimberley, South Africa Dr. Paul Msemwa, Director of the National Museum of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Mrs. Rose Nkaale Mwanja, Senior Conservator of the Uganda Museum, Kampala, Uganda Mr. Isaya O. Onjala, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya Mr. Abdul Ghani Osuman, Guide, Abercrombie & Kent, Kampala, Uganda Mrs. Shirley-Ann Pager, President of SARARA, Okahandja, Namibia Mrs. Mag. Barbara Plankensteiner, Museum für Völkerkunde, Vienna, Austria Mr. Tseliso Ramakhula, Director of the Lesotho Tourist Board, Maseru, Lesotho Mr. Gunter von Schumann, Namibia Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft, Windhoek, Namibia Mr. Harrison H. Sinfukwe, Officer of the Department of Antiquities, Lilongwe, Malawi Dr. Benjamin W. Smith, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa Mrs. Kveta Smoláriková, Institute of Egyptology, University of Prague, Czechia Dr. Karl-Heinz Striedter, Frobenius-Institut, Frankfurt on the Main, Germany Mr. Hennie Swart, Director of the !Xû & Khwe Association, Kimberley, South Africa Mr. Taole Tesele, Archaeologist, Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, Maseru, Lesotho Mrs. C. Thorp, Director of the National Museum and Monuments Institute, Harare, Zimbabwe Dr. Hessel Visser, Kuru Development Trust, D’Kar (Ghanzi), Botswana Mr. Andreas Vogt, Senior Cultural Officer National Monuments Council of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia Dr. Simon Waane, Director of Antiquities of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Dr. Nick Walker, Diector National Museum, Monument and Art Gallery, Gaborone, Botswana Professor Dr. Steffen Wenig, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, Germany.
Last not least named here, but foremost among those who helped to make this book, is my wife Wiltrud, partner on all our common journies and strenous excursions including solving the difficulties to find the sites visited and finally the revising work of the manuscript.
The biggest error of history apparently is the thesis Africa to be an unhistorical continent.
Reasons declaring this traditional (European) misbelief may be seen in the lack of written documents or in the fact that African societies have rather a cyclic than a chronological understanding of life. And for a long time Africa was seen as the Dark or Black Continent caused by the strangeness for the Europeans.
But Africa has a very rich history, possibly the richest history of all continents of the world.
Within the Rift Valley, along the line from Ethiopia via Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi to South Africa, there was the birthplace of human being, here once stood the cradle of mankind. Besides the famous rock art decorating wide areas of the now arid Sahara we find in eastern and southern Africa a much older rock art, thought to be the oldest expression of art made by humans at all. Messages of humans were here painted on rocks or engraved in rocks a long time before European hunters and gatherers of the Palaeolithic draw their beautiful pictures at the walls of the Franco-Cantabrian caves.
Before European explorers roved through the width of the African continent flourishing kingdoms were existing, founded by people groups today still existing, like the Swahili in Tanzania, the Baganda in Uganda, the Marawi in Malawi, the Shona, Rovzi and Ndebele in Zimbabwe, the Tswana in Botswana the Zulu and Xhosa in South Africa etc. etc. The “romantic” period of exploration then was joined by the “heroic” period of colonisation. Land was occupied by European countries by purchase for “nearly nothing” or by clever contracts. New borders were drawn neglecting the old territories, traditions and areas of tribes. A colonial Africa arose which was then discharged to freedom and independence after World War II. Old problems were substituted by new ones, Boubou Hama, a former president of Nigeria, characterised this saying “the colonial time was either to long or to short; we have forgot, what let us life, and not yet learned, how to life further on”.
The rich history of Africa captivated me, so that I decided to write this book on it, in particular concerning the interesting and beautiful sub-Saharian rock art of eastern and southern
Africa. Four reasons were thereby the main motivation expressed in the four parts of this book:
Part 1, headed “Travelling to the Sites”, describes this wonderful rock art with the main target to give a better understanding of this heritage to European readers. I visited together with my wife eleven countries from the total seventeen dealed with. We tried successfully to find several sites in these eleven countries and took a lot of photos. Besides this I made from all eastern and southern African countries a survey of the rock art sites existing and recorded by an analysis from literature given in the annexes. If laying on our route, we visited early man fossil sites and relicts of the old African kingdoms too. As far as always possible I had discussions with experts in the countries visited, with directors of the national monument councils, of the national museums and of associations working in the field of “transferring” the remaining hunters and gatherers from the Later Stone Age into our twenties century.
In part 2, headed “History and Archaeology of the Sites”, one finds the history of discovering sub-Saharian rock art, the technique of painting and engraving, the problem of dating and the attempt to regard this rock art in a broader geographic picture. The main reason for this comes from the fact, that most of the literature describes the rock art of one country only, not looking across the border.
Rock art of eastern and southern Africa is normally seen linked to the Bushmen or San as the remaining hunter-gatherer populations and to the Bantu-speaking people spread out today all over the countries visited. But the ethnological picture is more complicate; I therefore tried to develop in part 3, headed “ Broader Ethnic Picture of Eastern and Southern African Rock Art”, this broader picture by researching other people groups acting as former artist, and to answer to the question concerning the future of the today living hunters and gatherers as the Bushmen or San.
The rock art regarded is an important heritage of mankind, possibly even a World Heritage (according the definition of UNESCO), but a fragile too. The sites are protected in nearly all countries by national laws. But nevertheless a lot of them have been badly damaged by vandals, unauthorised collectors and the effects of natural and anthropogenic erosion. And this danger is going on. Preservation and conservation of this fragile heritage is therefore urgently on the agenda. In part 4, headed “Future of the Eastern and Southern African Rock Art”, I made interviews with experts, discussed the role of UNESCO in Africa and tried to develop a concept to beware this wonderful heritage.
Rock art is a message from the past which we can understand mostly today. We should undertake all possible activities to keep it alive, for ourselves and for our descendants. Joining the title of Professor Bernard Grzimek’s (1909 - 1987) famous and well-known book (“The
Serengeti must not die”) I would like to put my book under a similar motto:
The rock art of eastern and southern Africa must not die.
If a “normal” European - in particular a German - is asked about rock art, he may mention Altamira in Spain, possibly Lascaux2 in France or supposedly the rock art of the Central Sahara3 within the Tassili, Tibesti or Hoggar Mountains. The rock art of eastern and southern Africa will be usually unknown to him. This may be demonstrated by the following simple statistic: I counted the numbers of books and articles dealing with rock art in the public library of the city I am living in and found a relation of approximately 100 : 10 : 1 for the rock art of Europe (Spain and France), the Sahara and the eastern and southern parts of Africa.