Rock Art Analysis, 2013

Background

One of the most popular sub-disciplines in South African archaeology, is rock art analysis. Apart from the numerous professionals working in the field, we’ve also seen a growing interest from the general public, with rock art enthusiasts wanting to expand their academic knowledge. The latter point was one of the main reasons why the Rock Art Analysis Course was created. Presented by Dr Tim Forssman (presently at the Rock Art Research Institute, University of the Witwatersrand), the course introduced participants to the fundamentals of rock art analysis.

 

Educational content and activities

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Dr Tim Forssman presented a series of lectures on the distinguishing features of rock art, talking about international varieties but focusing mostly on those encountered in southern Africa.

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The book Bushman Rock Art – An Interpretive Guide, by Tim Forssman and Lee Gutteridge served as the workshop manual, with a basic tutorial guide (formulated by Heritageworx and Dr Forssman) providing structure to the course. Each participant received a copy of the book as part of their course material.

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Experimental archaeology:

Participants had the opportunity to mix their own paints using a variety of natural materials such as chalk, charcoal, ochre, blood, egg yolk, saliva and aloe sap. Mussel and abalone shells were used as mixing bowls and participants had to make brushes from sticks, horse hair, feathers, porcupine quills and tree bark.

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 Simply mixing paint was not enough! Putting these mixtures to the test came next. Each participant had to create a work of art, either through mimicking and existing rock painting, or by creating a unique piece.

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The resulting works of rock art

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There was also a bit of fun involved in the “brownie rock art interpretation” session during tea time.