THE LAST SAN ROCK ARTIST

DRUM - - In The Classroom -

Sci­en­tists have de­ter­mined that the tra­di­tion of rock paint­ing in South­ern Africa is at least 25 000 years old. Some of the more re­cent rock art por­trays Euro­pean set­tlers with their wag­ons, an­i­mals and tools. It’s said the last rock artist in South Africa was a San man who was shot in the Drak­ens­berg in the 1850s. He was car­ry­ing horns with pig­ment when he was killed.

The rea­son why a lot of South Africa’s rock art is so well pre­served is be­cause of a bit­ter irony. The San peo­ple were hunted and forced to flee by Euro­peans, Zu­lus, Ba­sotho and other groups be­cause of their be­lief that an­i­mals, in­clud­ing live­stock, be­long to every­one. The other groups con­sid­ered this to be steal­ing, and the San were driven into the re­mote Kala­hari Desert and Drak­ens­berg moun­tains where their art re­mained un­touched.

Ex­perts agree the San’s rock art is some of the most so­phis­ti­cated in the world. That’s why the places where it’s found have been de­clared Na­tional Her­itage sites and are pro­tected by law.

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