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AFRICAN PICTOGRAMS
Namib Desert: Spitzkuppe, Twyfelfontein, Adam and Eve, Brandberg

Cerimonia di apertura

Exhibition "African Pictograms", Rock Art and Archaeology of Namibia
Pinerolo, Italy, Senate Palace (XIV sec.)
Opening ceremony, 31 August 1997
(from the left) Prof. Dario Seglie Museum Director; Prof.Alberto Barbero Mayor of Pinerolo
Dr.Petter Johannesen Consul of Namibia in Italy.

 

Dario Seglie
CeSMAP, Director of the Prehistoric Art Museum
IFRAO Past President,
IFRAO-UNESCO Liaison Officer

 

Namibia, Brandeberg - Tsibab Ravine
Beautiful reddish-brown painting of a crouching figure.
The artist's painting tecnique is of the highest quality.
Photo: Ben K. Swartz, Jr. ACASPP, U.S.A.

 

 

 

 

Namibia, Brandeberg - Grosse Dom Schlutch
Rock Art: zebra
Photo: Daniel Seglie, CeSMAP

 

 

 

Namibia, Twyfelfontein
This rhino grazed in this territory many
thousands of years ago.
Photo: Daniel Seglie, CeSMAP

 

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
until the early hours.

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
and paintings.

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.
Of course, these natural causes,which usually proceed very slowly, are aggravated by man's behaviour,be it deliberate or not.

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
are frequent attempts to remove carvings and
paintings as souvenirs, or for sale on the unofficial antiques market.

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, embankments.

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