Art and soul: Ancient rock scrawls that remain a mystery
The Richtersveld is strangely magical. It’s mysterious; moon-like, marked with eerie signs of life from a pre-existing world.
As one of the oldest deserts on earth, the Richtersveld has stories to tell. Some rocks have been around for between 1000-2000 million years, which is virtually half the age of the earth. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know what these rocks have witnessed during their generations and generations of existence? Perhaps hotter or colder climates, glaciers or heat waves, floods and mudslides, abundant vegetation and sparse soils, big and small wild creatures, and, of course, generations of humans.
The rocks of the Richtersveld have been a source of marvel for years; an open-air museum for fanatical archaeologists and astonished tourists. But the rock formations themselves are not the only source of curiosity and intrigue: it’s what’s on the rocks that adds to the mystery.
Rock engravings, known as petroglyphs, can be found in countless nooks and crannies across the Richtersveld. They are believed to have been created by the San people, dating back at least 2000 years. Mesmerising geometric patterns engraved onto the black dolomite rocks, the reason for these creations is, of course, a mystery. But there are some interesting stories that make interesting food for thought…
Many believe that the imaginative dots, spirals and grids are the result of their creators entering a shamanic, trans-like state, where they would build themselves into a frenzy, often through dance. Others believe that the patterns are maps explaining migration roots, or even the birth of a written language.
Bizarrely beautiful, is perhaps the best way to describe these messages from another lifetime. While we will never know exactly what they symbolise, we can relish them for the exciting sense of mystery that they bring to this rich wilderness, and ponder them for what they represent: ideas from an ancient culture, solidified in a near-timeless medium. It certainly gets one thinking – what will our slice of humanity leave behind for generations to come?