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Time, Color, and Sound: Revisiting the rock art of Didima Gorge, South Africa

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Aron Mazel


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This paper explores the abundance of rock art in the Didima Gorge where 3909 paintings were documented in 17 rock shelters. It is proposed that the richness of the gorge’s rock art is associated with its acoustic properties which may have established the gorge as a significant spiritual place for the San hunter-gatherers. In making this correlation, the paper explores Pager’s (1971) comment that the Zulu name for the gorge means ‘The Reverberating One.’ It is proposed that the word ‘Didima’ may be an adaptation of the /Xam word ‘!gum’ meaning 'to roar' (Raper 2010 pers. comm.). The relationship between the rock art and acoustics may have been established when the hunter-gatherers intensified their occupation of the northern uKhahlamba-Drakensberg about 3000 years ago, and then deepened it around 2000 years ago with the emergence of shaded polychrome paintings. The need to undertake in-situ acoustic research in Didima Gorge and other valleys in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg is stressed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mazel AD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Time and Mind

Year: 2011

Volume: 4

Issue: 3

Pages: 283-296

Print publication date: 01/11/2011

ISSN (print): 1751-696X

ISSN (electronic): 1751-6978

Publisher: Berg Publishers


DOI: 10.2752/175169711X13046099195474


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