Exhibition "African Pictograms",
Rock Art and Archaeology of Namibia
Namibia, Brandeberg - Tsibab Ravine
Namibia, Brandeberg - Grosse Dom Schlutch
During the 1996 international expedition to Namibia organised by Shirley-Ann Pager, President of SARARA and of IFRAO, for the IFRAO World Conference in Swakopmund, the group of ten scholars on assignment to the main Rock Art sites in the North-West territories decided to set up this exhibition.
Every night, huddling around the campfire, between desert
and veldt, after a hot day exploring, under the blackest
sky - with the southern stars shining like beacons and
the Milky Way dazzling like a river of light - we talked
away about Namibian Rock Art
We had all stepped into an emotional clime triggered off by an awesome and fascinating setting, full of extreme contrasts, surrounded by animals we could see or only just perceive.
The Rock Art we had the privilege to examine in this
territory is absolutely extraordinary for the beauty,
the quality and the quantity of iconographic documents
that have been preserved up till now in petroglyphs
This vast archaeological heritage, among the world's best, is of capital importance for understanding the history and prehistory of Southern Africa, a sub-continent in which there are very few, or only relatively recent, written documents, monuments, ruins and inscriptions, even though it represents the cradle of oldest Humanity.
Unfortunately, Rock Art is very fragile and vulnerable, and can decay and disappear very easily.
Even a moderate measure of climactic variations andenvironmental
modifications can destroy the psychic activity transferred
onto rock faces during the last 30000 years.
Man's capacity of altering Rock Art has an aetiology which recalls the virulence of a plague epidemic for its destructive effects and speed of infection.
Tourism implies more or less knowledgeable vandalism
because the average tourist has not been specifically
educated to respect the historical heritage of the places
he visits, and often tour guides or site personnel, if
any, exercise slack surveillance. Furthermore there
Further serious damage can be caused by the economic
exploitation of sites, e.g. quarries and mines, or the
building of infrastructures such as roads, bridges, dams,