Monday, June 2, 2014

Twyfelfontein Rock art - Petroglyphs

A visit to Twyfelfontein is a journey back thousands of years to a San hunter-gatherer society that once inhabited the region and depicted its environment in engravings and paintings.

 Amidst the red table-top mountains of Damaraland, a wealth of rock engravings are etched into the Etjo sandstone, powerful reminders of the hunter-gatherers of old who gathered near to the spring in the dry season and chiselled thousands of animals into the rock. 

The Huab valley in northwestern Namibia, a place called /Uis-//aes – place among packed stones – by the San/Bushmen who inhabited the area, or Twyfelfontein – doubtful spring – by farmer David Levin in the late 1940s, contains these remnants of the past that endure in the hot, dry landscape under the clear blue Namibian sky, linking us to our forefathers and our ancient past.

Created through hundreds of millions of years of geological upheavals, the porous wind-laid or Aeolian rock eroded and fractured along natural fissures revealing flat smooth surfaces that provided ideal canvases for the ancient artists.


The Twyfelfontein engravings, recognised for their cultural importance, gained world heritage status in 2007, the Twyfelfontein area offering one of the greatest concentrations of rock art in southern Africa. In the valley, six hectares in size, over 2,000 engravings or petroglyphs have been identified. The dark patina of iron and manganese oxides referred to as ‘desert varnish’, allows us to determine the age of the engravings, the darker rock being the older work.

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