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16 April 2005
Twyfelfontein, a nominee for World Heritage

Twyfelfontein is being prepared by the National Museum and National Archives of Namibia for nomination to the World Heritage List, which encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage. The site is situated in a transitional zone between the Namib desert and the fringes of the Kunene region bordering the desert. It boasts rock paintings dating back to between 2 000 and 3 000 years ago.
     During a presentation at a three-day conference on rock art in the capital yesterday, a lecturer in the Department of History (Archaeology) at the University of Namibia (UNAM), Goodman Gwasira noted that Twyfelfontein has one of the largest rock engravings in southern Africa with more than 2 500 individual figures. During his presentation on 'Challenges and opportunities in rock art management in Namibia', he noted that rare combinations of engravings and paintings are at the site for nomination to the world heritage list. However, graffiti at the site raised concern, as the presenter claimed that visitors are making these marks, which are made with white paint on the rocks.
     Gwasira stressed that graffiti is a physical manifestation of the impact of uncontrolled visitors to a site. He emphasized that in an effort to enhance the photographic quality of rock art, some visitors have applied foreign material to paint surfaces. "At rock art sites, graffiti can especially easily be mistaken for original art by other visitors who may not have the advantage of a trained eye. It also appeared as if some visitors wish to be associated with the heritage sites to the extent that they leave drawings or carvings that documented their visit, thus immortalizing their call to the site," he explained.
     There were also some questions raised concerning the 'removal' of graffiti, such as whether or not it is valid to do so considering the historical value they gain through time. Participants claimed that the graffiti, which appears at Twyfelfontein, would not exclude the site from the World Heritage list and suggested that specialists be called in to remove the white marks at these sites.

Source: allAfrica.com (13 April 2005)

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