uKhuhlamba Drakensberg

uKhuhlamba Drakensberg

The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park (UDP) is located between latitude 20° 30" S and 30° 30" S, and longitude 28° 30" E and 29° 30" E, situated between 100km and 150km from the Indian Ocean and is the highest mountain range of the "Great Escarpment" in Southern Africa, rising to about 3 000 metres or more in places. At 3 482 metres, the highest peak in the region is Thabana Ntlenyana in neighbouring Lesotho. These majestic mountains are characterised by two distinct regions, namely, the "High 'Berg" and the "Little 'Berg". The two regions differ greatly in height, structure (the "Little 'Berg" is formed from sandstone while the main escarpment or "High 'Berg" is formed from a basalt layer) and appearance. The uKhahlamba Drakensberg mountains were declared a World Heritage Site on 29 November 2000. It was declared worthy of World Heritage status both for its cultural importance and natural importance. Its cultural significance is rock art and the natural significance defined by fauna and flora. The rock art is made in the "Little 'Berg" region of the UDP, where the erosion of the sandstone lead to the formation of shelters, where rock art was eventually made at altitudes between 1000 and 2000 metres. It is often quoted that there are over 20 000 individual rock paintings at over 600 recorded sites.

There are two rock art interpretation centres at the UDP, namely the Kamberg Rock Art Centre and the Didima Rock Art Interpretative Centre. Both these centres give visitors an opportunity to understand, appreciate and interpret the rock art to be found in the UDP. Kamberg is home to the Game Pass Shelter. Game Pass was the first rock art site in South Africa to be known in other parts of the world following its appearance in the Scientific American in 1915. It was at Game Pass where the "Rosetta Stone" of rock art helped to crack the code behind the meaning of rock art. The eland, which is painted in the "Rosetta Stone", is the largest antelope in southern Africa and is the most painted antelope in the paintings of the UDP. It was from such work that rock art researchers considered rock art to have a religious significance. The declaration of the UDP, even though it was not solely on the basis of its rock art heritage, was a recognition of not only the significance of the paintings but also the testimony of the technical abilities of the Bushmen reflected in the rock art. This brought about significant transformation of the views previously held on rock art. When Europeans first encountered rock art, they found it difficult to associate its origins with the Bushmen. Even when they started doing so, they considered it primitive and crude, like the people who made it. Its significance could only be explained in terms of hunting magic or reflecting daily life.

Comments are closed.