Tuesday, March 4, 2008

30: rock engravings at Twyfelfontain

Twyfelfontein is one of the biggest and most important rock-art concentrations in Africa. The name means ''Doubtful fountain'' and it was given to this site by a local farmer who doubted that a spring which existed in the area could support cattle for a long enough time.

There are approximately 2 500 engravings around Twyfelfontein. They belong to several different rock-art styles, the most popular ones being the iconic style which depicts animals and their spoor; and the geometric style, which is characterized by abstract figures like ovals, circles, and all sorts of curving and wandering lines. It is unknown when and why these paintings/engraving were maid, but there is evidence that area was occupied as early as 6 000 years ago. It is also hypothesized that the engravings were part of the people's spiritual ceremony and were created by shamans while in a state of trance to represent their dreams = prophecies.

Soft red and yellow sandstones of Twyfelfontein provide an easy base for rock engraving, but are also susceptible to erosion:

Giraffes were supposed to symbolize presence of the nearby water source:

Iconic Twyfelfontain engraving - "Dancing lion":

Close up of dancing lion:

Other animal motifs: