Saturday, January 4, 2014

An Uncertain Spring

One of my primary reasons for visiting Namibia was to see Twyfelfontein, which in Afrikaans means uncertain or doubtful spring.  Twyfelfontein is an area in north-western Namibia which was inhabited by Khoi herders and hunter-gathers for over 6,000 years.  The area was used as a place of worship and as part of those rituals more than 2,000 rock engravings and paintings were created there.  It is one of the most extensive areas of rock art in Africa which is why I was interested in seeing it.

The tour took an hour and it was right in the middle of the day, so it was over 100 degrees outside and you could really feel it.  A few in the group actually decided to turn back early because the heat was too much for them.  I guess after spending five months here I’ve built up a tolerance because I didn’t have a problem at all which is fortunate.  We had to hike over a number of rocks to get to the engravings which was actually a lot of fun:
Due to the sun being so high, many of my pictures didn’t turn out really well.  But a few of the best ones are below.  From left to right you have a zebra, rhino (very small), and giraffe.  The footprints are the author’s signature:
On this rock you can see seals, penguins and a flamingo.  This is particularly impressive because the coast is about 80 miles away; meaning whoever engraved these figures must have travelled a significant distance, by foot, through the desert, and past lots of animals including predators like lions:
This rock has a number of different animals, but the one everyone looks at is the large figure at the bottom, with the tail extending directly to the left and then 90 degrees up.  That is the lion-man figure.  It is called the lion-man because it is shaped like a lion, but the feet have five toes.  Lions only have four toes, so the artist either took creative liberty and gave it an extra digit, he never saw a lion up close, or simply had a flawed memory:
Overall it was totally worth it.  I think I was the only person in my group who was really excited about seeing this, but that’s ok.  The only thing I found surprising was that there were very few depictions of human beings, only about 50 out of the whole lot.  But here is one picture of a human at Twyfelfontein; it’s not a rock carving, but it’s better than nothing:

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