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Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings, Namibia

What makes these Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings so special is that they are about 10 000 years old. They were engraved by Bushmen (hunter-gatherers) over a period of 1000 years. The drawings were made by cutting through the outer layer of red-crusted rock, that in turn exposed a lighter yellow shade underneath. These were then covered by ‘desert varnish’, a tarnish that is produced by oxidization of stone over a very long period of time. The colouring appears brown or dark grey. There are images of animals, humans, mythical creatures, pictograms (such as rows of dots depicting a physical object) and indentations from the constant use of a particular tool.

One image in particular has created quite a bit of controversy, that of a ‘Lion man’ that depicts a lion with an extremely long rectangular-kinked tail that ends in what resembles a human hand. It is said that this represents the transformation of humans into animals. However, this transformation is believed to be created as part of their tribal rituals. Another train of thought is that these were mere artistic expressions of animals by the bushmen at the time.

There are other engravings that look like sea lions, penguins and possibly flamingos, which indicates that the bushmen may have had contact with these animals  even though they were 100km (62mi) away along the coast. However, a modern archeologist, Sven Ouzman, describes them as being ‘strange animals’ and does not believe the busmen had actually encountered these animals. He suggests that they are merely rough works of animals such as the giraffe. Perhaps the truth will be told through your eyes if you go on one of these very interesting african budget safari tours.

About Bronwyn Paxton

Article by: Bronwyn Paxton
on April 16, 2013
Filed under  Africa Blog • Namibia 
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