Working with rock art

By Buhle Zuma

22 January 2013

The first ever collaboration between South Africa and Scandinavia in the field of rock art studies with a focus on hunter-gatherer rock art was presented to the public during the launch of a book entitled Working with Rock Art: Recording, Presenting and Understanding Rock Art Using Indigenous Knowledge. This new publication is co-edited by Benjamin Smith, director of the Rock Art Research Institute at Wits (RARI); Knut Helskog, Professor of Archaeology in Norway; and David Morris, Head of Archaeology at the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, South Africa. 

Smith says that the collaboration holds value for all of the partners and teaches many valuable lessons on how we treat rock art. “Both countries have rock art and paintings of such great international significance that they are registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.”

In both countries, rock art has a high public profile and the governments have made rock art research, conservation and rock art tourism national priorities. However, the research traditions in each region have followed vastly different trajectories, continues Smith.

The book presents the consolidated findings of a prolonged engagement of research and debate in rock art practice and contains cutting-edge contributions that consider new approaches in three key areas: the documentation of rock art; its interpretation using indigenous knowledge; and the presentation of rock art.

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