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20 April 2008
Exploring rock art in South Africa

The Western Cape's rich rock art heritage has been further enhanced with the discovery of two new sites in the Cedarberg mountains area depicting ancient Khoisan 'rain making' imagery Zimbabwean archaeologist Siyakha Mguni has been searching the Cedarberg mountain range in the Western Cape area for rock art imagery. The images relate to 'rain making' imagery that bushmen (Khoisin) may have used when they gathered to call or welcome rain, hundreds if not thousands of years ago.  
     The region known as Bushmans Kloof is renowned for it's rock-art legacy of an estimated 130 documented bushman rock art sites and it's dedication to preserving this heritage. Mguni says over the past 15 months he has been walking systematically from north to south documenting and accessing about 110 rock art sites in the region and thinks he has only covered about 65 percent of the area so far. He says they have come to understand more and more about the rock art in the area and also the likelihood of finding something new is high and is quite exciting.  
     Mguni says he is particularly interested as these paintings were of a style that is usually associated with rock art in another region of the Drakensberge mountain range in South Africa. The figures are nearly all of men, and closer inspection shows that the heads of the men were of antelope which the bushmen associated with water and rainfall. Professor John Parkington from the University of Cape Town says that the rock art could be anywhere from a few hundred years old to twenty five thousand years old. Being the resident archaeologist at Bushmans Kloof has given Mguni the opportunity to share his skills and experience with hundreds of tourists who come to visit the area every year.

Sources: Associated Press, MSN (11 April 2008)

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