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Changing Views of Drakensberg San Rock Art: Examining Landscape Use, Ritual Activity, and Contact through Multivariate Content-Based Spatial Analysis

  • Grant S. McCall (a1)


This paper presents a multivariate statistical and spatial analysis of rock art site content and composition for the Didima Gorge, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In presenting an experimental set of methodological approaches, the paper attempts to identify categories of rock art sites based on their image content and other archaeological characteristics, and then explores how these types might have related to various social, religious, and economic contexts in the past. The paper finds evidence for three kinds of rock art site use in the Didima Gorge: (1) large residential "home bases" that were centers of economic activity, (2) large unoccupied sites that were special locations for ritual activities, which the paper argues were sometimes the locations of puberty initiation, and (3) small isolated sites that were locations of private magical activities done by lone individuals. The central theme of this study is that there is clear evidence for diversity in terms of the contexts in which rock art sites in the Didima Gorge formed, and that no single account is adequate for their explanation.


Este ensayo presenta un análisis del contenido de los sitios en arte sobre piedra ubicados en el cañon de Didima, KwaZulu-Natal, Sudáfrica. Se propone clasificar los sitios según su contenido pictoral más las características arqueológicas. Luego esta clasificación se relaciona con los antiguos contextos sociales, religiosos, y económicos. Se presenta evidencia para tres clases de uso para los sitios de arte sobre piedra dentro del Cañon de Didima: (1) bases residenciales; (2) grandes sitios dedicados a actividades rituales, entre éstas las iniciaciones de pubertad; y (3) pequeños lugares aislados donde individuos solitarios practicaban la magia. El tema central de este estudio es que hay indicaciones claras de diversos contextos de formación entre los sitios del arte sobre piedra en el Cañon de Didima; una explicación uniforme para su origen no es sustenible.



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Changing Views of Drakensberg San Rock Art: Examining Landscape Use, Ritual Activity, and Contact through Multivariate Content-Based Spatial Analysis

  • Grant S. McCall (a1)


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