- Museum number
Digital photograph (colour); view of engraved rock art on the side of a large rock showing the landscape beyond at the right. The rock art shows multiple animal figures including three rhinoceros, four giraffe, an elephant and several unidentified figures. All the figures are upright and pecked either in outline or in filled. Twyfelfontein | /Ui-//aes, Namibia.
- Production date
- 08 May 2014 (date digitized:original photograph date unknown)
File size: 74 megabytes
Resolution: 300 dots per inch
- Curator's comments
- Twyfelfontein | /Ui-//aes is a UNESCO world heritage site in north-west of central Namibia with one of the largest single groupings of engraved rock art images in Africa. Covering about 57 ha in the core area and home to over 2,000 engravings, the rock art sites are situated near a small but permanent spring. First noted by Reinhard Maack in a 1921 report, following a report to him from a surveyor mentioning the engravings, in 1952 the site was made a National Monument. In 1963 Ernst Scherz visited Twyfelfontein | /Ui-//aes as part of his work to record rock art sites throughout South West Africa. Scherz documented around 2,500 images in the wider valley area. A 2005 survey of the core site found 2,075 individual images on 235 separate rock surfaces.
The engravings are found in several loose conglomerations, on sandstone surfaces at the base of a hill scarp within the Huab Basin, while the few painted panels are found on the underside of sandstone rock overhangs. The engraved images are pecked and/or ground/polished and are made in a variety of styles, with ubiquitous geometric patterns of cross-hatched, looped and linear forms, as well as circles and polished depressions and cupules. A range of patination colours seem to indicate these having been created over a wide timescale. In addition there are numerous depictions of animals, ranging in style from more naturalistic to stylised and distorted. Chief among the animal images is the giraffe, which is most numerous. Also common are images of rhinoceroses, zebra, gemsbok antelope and ostriches. There are occasional images of cattle but images of human beings are almost absent. Also featured are images of human footprints and animal spoor (hoof and paw prints).
Archaeological fieldwork around the site undertaken in 1968 recovered evidence of occupation including stone tools, worked ostrich eggshell and stone structures. The dates recovered from radiocarbon dating ranged widely from c.5850- 180 BP (years before present). The relationship between periods of occupation/site use and the production of rock art is not known.
Namibia is home to over 1,200 rock art sites countrywide. Rock art is found across the country from the southern border almost to the northern border, although rock art sites are scarce in the far north. The majority of known rock art sites are found in the rocky and mountainous areas forming the escarpment edge in the west of the country. Particular concentrations of rock art are found in the west-centre of the country, north of the edge of the Namib’s coastal sand sea. Namibia’s most well-known rock art locales are clustered in this area, among them the Brandberg (also known as Dâures) and Erongo mountains and the Spitzkoppe peaks, as well as the well-known engraved rock art complex at Twyfelfontein | /Ui-//aes.
Much of the painted and engraved rock art in Namibia may be broadly compared to the wider hunter-gatherer-fisher rock art tradition found throughout southern Africa, similar in theme and composition and believed to be a part of the same general tradition, although some geometric and schematic rock art has been attributed to herder people and some finger paintings appear to have been painted later which fit neither tradition.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Previous owner/ex-collection number: NSNAMDMT0010098 (TARA number (BM))