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Presenting the San hunter-gatherer past to the public: a view from the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, South Africa

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Aron Mazel


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The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park (UDP) was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000 on the basis of its magnificent scenery, biodiversity, and archaeological richness, comprising a rich corpus of rock paintings and occupation deposits relating to the San hunter-gatherers. The desire to encourage heritage tourism to the UDP following the declaration, along with the wish to present a more positive picture of the San hunter-gatherers, led to the development of the Kamberg (in 2002) and Didima Rock Art Centres (in 2003). These centres, together with the Main Caves visitor attraction, which had been redeveloped in 1998, distinguish the UDP as the premier region in South Africa for the interpretation of the San past. Cognizant of the critical role that public interpretation plays in the management of archaeological resources, this paper investigates which aspects of the archaeological record have been stressed and which have been overlooked, the relationship between the interpretations and the findings of UDP archaeological research since the 1970s, and whether these findings enhance the significance and value of the resources and thereby promote their management. It is shown that the overall interpretive emphasis is on rock art and that information derived from Later Stone Age hunter-gatherer excavations since the 1970s have been neglected. Furthermore, it is revealed that the display of Early and Middle Stone Age material at Didima is inconsistent with regional archaeological findings and that there is a neglect of local archaeological remains. It is concluded that the development of any further attractions should be based on an interpretive plan which considers the interpretive requirements of the region as a whole.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mazel AD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites

Year: 2008

Volume: 10

Issue: 1

Pages: 41-51

ISSN (print): 1350-5033

ISSN (electronic): 1753-5522

Publisher: Maney Publishing


DOI: 10.1179/175355208X404330


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