Dates: Friday 10 to Sunday 12 May

The Centre for Extra-Mural Studies has organised a unique weekend excursion with Emeritus Professor John Parkington to the Cederberg for an immersive experience looking at rock art in situ which will allow participants a unique insight into the lives of the San by tracing their footsteps and analysing their art and artefacts.

The northern Cederberg is one of the hotspots of southern African rock art, with thousands of beautiful, somewhat enigmatic paintings spread across the folded belt mountains, located in caves, rock shelters and small overhangs. As with imagery elsewhere in the Cape and beyond as far as Namibia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, these painted figures are mostly of human and animal subjects and are often, but not always, organised into compositions that appear to depict lifelike 'scenes' or events. Because there are many examples of hunting equipment such as bows, arrows and quivers, and because the animal choices are dominated by large or small game animals, this art is often simplified as a 'hunter's art', although this seems undermined by a near absence of literal hunting scenes.


Archaeologists recognise now, even if they did not some decades ago, that it may be a hunter's art in another sense; not as a target list or a technical instruction manual, but rather as a reference to the social and ontological context of who hunts, who does not and how this balance is maintained. Currently there is lively debate among rock art specialists as to how to read these painted images in the language and mental framework of the painters themselves.

On this field excursion we will look at some of the more detailed and apparently explicit paintings to try to understand the painters' intentions and to discover the painted landscape they created, without ever, apparently, painting a tree, a river or a mountain.

Bio: Professor Parkington is amongst the top 2% of archaeologists in the world. He has been excavating and studying the lives of San hunter-gatherers for five decades and is the author of several books on rock art, rock engravings and archaeology as well as chapters in several books and over 150 scholarly articles.
Fee: Sharing cottage R3 600; own cottage R4 400.

The fee includes accommodation and dinner but not breakfast, lunch, or drinks. All the cottages at Travellers Rest are self-catering. There is a restaurant, the Khoisan Kitchen, which will provide breakfast and lunch for those who don't want to bring their own breakfast and lunch.