Engraved rocks at Boomplaats farm: farmer settlement rock engravings of Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

Mbewe, Richard
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ABSTRACT The Rock Art of southern Africa represents the single most informative surviving artifact of the social and symbolic lives of many hunter-gatherers, herders, farmers and settlers who have lived and marked our land. Unlike many other forms of archaeology, rock art has always been in the public domain and of late has become a defining element of social identity. Farmer settlement engravings based on concentric circles joined by meandering lines are particularly intriguing images in southern African Iron Age rock art tradition. This study focuses on a large engraved Iron Age site on the farm Boomplaats 29 JT in Lydenburg District, Mpumalanga province, republic of South Africa. This site contains a variety of engravings ranging from concentric circles, animal motifs, drilled holes, spread-eagle designs and a Mhele/ Morabaraba game board. Although the general characteristics and overall distribution of this art are known, the issue of authorship of this art is till unknown. This research, therefore, goes deeper into both the historical and archaeological evidence from Mpumalanga province to investigate and ascertain the authors of these engravings. This study hopes to advance our knowledge of this art by focusing on the specific issue of authorship, and examining the relationship between the engravings and settlement ruins in the area.
rock art, Iron Age farmers, Pedi rock engravings, Boomplaats farm, settlement patterns, Lydenburg, Mpumalanga, Archaeology, Nguni