SEMINAR ON ROCK ART
Good afternoon, everyone!
This is the first seminar in preparation for our archaeological fieldwork in Namibia: we are fantastically lucky to have received partial research funding for this trip from our Institute so I shall expect 200% attention and participation from you all. First in this seminar. I’m going to give a brief introduction to contemporary research on rock art. and in the second part, I’m going to give you some do’s and don’ts for our fieldwork trip in Q31 April so please listen very carefully.
I’m first going to focus on the interpretation of rock art in Namibia. We are very fortunate to be going to an area where you can find some of the most important sites in the entire world. And I hope to show you how easy it is for everyone to make mistakes in looking at cultures which are different from our own the first and most important lesson we have to learn.
In Namibia there arc both paintings and engravings that’s where the surface of the rock is cut out. Many of the engravings show footprints of animals and most scholars used to think that the purpose of these was simple and obvious: this rock art was like a school book with pictures to teach Q32 children about tracks: which track belonged lo which animal – giraffe, lion and so on.
But there were some mysteries. First, when you look at a typical Namibian painting or engraving, you see the tracks are Q33 repeated, there are dozens of tracks for the same animal. You’d expect just one clear illustration if the reason the aim was to teach tracking.
Now there were two more problems. Why are some of the engravings of animals very accurate as you’d expect all clearly identifiable and others quite unrealistic?
And another mystery some of these unrealistic animals that’s in the engravings seem to be half- Q34 human. Some, for example, have got human faces. Many researchers now think that these were pictures the wise men engraved of themselves. They believed they could use Q35 magic to control the animals they had drawn, so the hunters could then catch them for food.
This shows you some of the dangers of coming from one culture to another, as we’ll be doing, without understanding it fully. Scholars imagined that children looked at rock art pictures to learn to track just because they themselves had learnt skills from pictures: many researchers now believe that rock art had a much more complex purpose. And we’ll talk more about it next week!
Now before I invite you to join in a discussion in this second part of the seminar. I’d like to make some very important points about our fieldwork and in fact any field trip to look at rock art.
We’re going to a number of sites, and we won’t always be together. The single largest problem faced by people who manage the sites is – yes. I’m sure you’ve guessed damage caused by visitors, even though it’s usually unintentional.
Whenever you do go to a site, don’t forget you can learn many things from observing at a Q36 distance instead of walking all over it. This can really help to reduce visitor pressure. People often say. ‘Well, there’s only two of us and just this one time’, but maybe thousands of people are saying the same thing.
And then some basic rules to guide you – we’ll have our own camp near a village, but remember never to camp on a site if you go on your own It may be disrespectful to the people of that Q37 culture and certainly don’t make Q38 fires, however romantic it may seem. It’s really dangerous in dry areas, and you can easily burn priceless undiscovered material by doing so.
So, how are we going to enjoy the rock art on our field trip? By looking at it. drawing it and photographing it – NEVER by Q39 touching it or even tracing it. Rock art is fragile and precious.
Remember that climbing on rocks and in caves can destroy in a moment what has lasted for centuries. So no heroics in Namibia, please! Try to be extra careful and help others to be too.
And lastly please don’t even move rocks or branches to take photographs you should leave the site Q40 intact. I’m sure I can rely on you to do that.
Well, that’s about all I want to say before today’s first discussion, but if you have any questions please ask them now and don’t forget you’ll find some fascinating information about world–wide sites on the Internet. Right, first question then?