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Tsodilo Hills – Botswana

Tsodilo-Hills

Rising majestically from the flat barren landscape of the western Kalahari, the sheer quartzite cliff-faces of the four Tsodilo Hills (often referred to as the Louvre of the Desert) are an impressive sight.

It received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2001 due to its unique religious and spiritual significance to San peoples of the Kalahari (Botswana), as well as its unique record of human settlement containing over 4,500 rock paintings.

The hills have been visited and occupied by people from the region for over 1000 years; probably having come from central Africa. They were cattle farmers who settled on the plateau who traded copper jewellery from the Congo, seashells from the Atlantic, and glass beads from Asia, probably in exchange for specularite and furs. There was a great deal of interaction between different groups, and trade networks were extensive. Evidence of an ancient lake bed at the foot of the hills tells a story of abundance.

The San believes the hills are a resting place for the spirits of the deceased and if you hunt or cause death near the hills; these spirits will cause misfortune and bad luck for that individual. They practised their unique art against the magnificent stone faces of the Tsodilo Hills, making it one of the most historically significant art sites in the world.

Two of the most famous images are the rhino polychromes and the Eland panel, the latter situated on a soaring cliff that overlooks the African wilderness. Indeed the inaccessibility of many of the paintings may be linked to their religious significance.

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