Working with Rock Art presents the outcomes of the first ever collaboration between South Africa and Scandinavia in the field of rock art studies. The particular focus was on hunter-gatherer rock arts. Norway and South Africa are two countries that are famous for their ancient rock engravings and rock paintings. Both have rock art of such great international significance that they are registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In both countries therefore, rock art has a high public profile and both governments have made rock art research, conservation and rock art tourism national priorities. However, the research traditions in each region have followed vastly different trajectories.
Our collaboration therefore sought to bring together a series of teams from each region to share their experiences on how we work with rock art. We hoped that our different experiences would prove mutually challenging, and they did. It caused a series of profound debates about what constitutes best practice in the field of rock art studies and these have changed the way we work in tangible ways. We challenged all of the collaborators to report their perspectives at a joint conference in Kimberley, South Africa in 2006 and then to engage in further discussions and workshops before writing up these experiences for this volume. This volume therefore represents the consolidated findings of a prolonged engagement of research and debate in rock art practice. It is therefore predominantly a book about method, and this has great importance in itself, because rock art studies is a growing discipline but one in which we have no internationally agreed upon methods or standards of practice.
We divide the book into three parts, each reflecting one of the core foci of our collaboration:
METHODS OF DOCUMENTING AND RECORDING ROCK ART
All of us face a common problem in our rock art data capture: how do we reduce rock art on a three dimensional surface to a two-dimensional recording in a manner that does not damage the art in any way and without losing any three-dimensional features that may prove vital to interpretation? In both Norway and South Africa research has shown that natural rock features such as cracks and hollows played a fundamental role in determining the placement of rock art imagery.