The Prehistory of Southern Africa

By J. Desmond Clark | Go to book overview

Chapter Ten
PREHISTORIC ART

THE prehistoric art of southern Africa is known the world over for the wealth and variety of artistic expression that it contains. Not only do we learn from it much concerning the artists them. selves, as we have seen, but a great deal of their work is of a standard and excellence that has yet to be surpassed. The excitement and satisfaction of discovering one of these prehistoric art galleries is an experience given only to a few, but we can all share in the pleasure that the copies of this art give us to-day and feel something of the great satisfaction which must have been experienced by the artists themselves when they had successfully completed a masterpiece.

In addition to the great wealth and variety of paintings there are also many hundreds of equally interesting engravings. The latter are found mainly in the southern parts of the Central Plateau, and their distribution coincides closely with that of the Smithfield Culture, though there are other unrelated and little- known groups in our Northern and Western Regions. The South African engravings are found almost invariably on the boulders which cover the tops and slopes of dolerite kopjes that could have served as lookout places for the hunters, who would have good views of the surrounding country.

Paintings, on the other hand, are found in caves and rock shelters and are more widely distributed, seeming, as it were, to ring round the engraving sites, though of course there is always some overlapping. Their distribution coincides more with that of the Wilton and Smithfield C cultures. In South Africa they outnumber the engraving sites by about five to one and over fifteen hundred painted sites are known there alone (Map 13).

In the north we find many naturalistic paintings in Southern Rhodesia and a few in Northern Rhodesia which may link up with the groups in Central and Northern Tanganyika. On the west side of the continent is the South West African group, while

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The Prehistory of Southern Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Plates vii
  • List of Text Figures ix
  • List of Maps xvii
  • List of Tables xix
  • Acknowledgements xxi
  • Foreword xxiii
  • Introduction xxv
  • Chapter One - The Land and the People 1
  • Chapter Two - Building Up the Story 24
  • Chapter Three - The Man-Apes 58
  • Chapter Four - Fossil Man in Southern Africa 74
  • Chapter Five - Unspecialized Hunter-Gatherers 102
  • Chapter Six - Specialization Begins 131
  • Chapter Seven - The Microlithic Revolution 166
  • Chapter Eight - The Later Stone Age 185
  • Chapter Nine - Daily Life in the Later Stone Age 217
  • Chapter Ten - Prehistoric Art 253
  • Chapter Eleven - Miners, Metal-Workers, And Builders in Stone 281
  • References 315
  • Index 331
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